To get the reward, you must take the risk…

May 28, 2021

Pastor Freed used this Mario Andretti quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“If everything seems under control, you’re not driving fast enough.”

Mario was a winning driver in Formula 1 and IndyCar racing because he always drove fast enough and managed to stay in control at the same time. Mario’s advice is really about overcoming fears and taking risks to get ahead in racing and in life. When your life is too much “under control” it is usually because you have let fears stop you from exploring what is right beyond your comfort zone.

Here are some great quotes by an impressive array of people about getting beyond our fears –

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” (1841) —Popularized by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not to do what you are afraid to do is to guide your life by fear. How much better not to be afraid to do what you believe in doing!” (circa 1881) —Jane Addams

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” (1960) —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” (1997) —Mary Schmich

You might ask why you should follow this advice. To extend the Andretti thought just a little, if you are allowing your fears (and prejudices) to control and constrict your life, you are not living life to the fullest. It’s as if you never moved from black and white TV to color TV (I know many of my readers don’t even know what black and white TV was). It is as if you went to the Baskins Robbins ice cream store and ordered plain Vanilla every time. Life has more to offer than your fears allow you to experience.

Life offers many rewards in terms of new friendships, new experiences and new knowledge to those who are unafraid to reach out for those things – to take the risk of meeting someone new or trying something new, something that you may be afraid of trying. Sometimes those fears hide under the cloud of prejudice, but the real base of all prejudices is unfounded fear.

I like Mary Schmich’s quote because it is a simple pro-active challenge to think about something that you are not doing because you are afraid. There are many things that really are too dangerous to try and, in those cases, your fears are serving you well. At the same time, there are many instances in life where holding back because of some unfounded fear really is a missed opportunity to make a new friend or have a great new experience, one that you may even learn from.

If you do not take the opportunity to talk to a person who looks different from you, you have missed an opportunity. If you do not go to that sporting event or that show, because its venue is in a neighborhood that you fear going into, you have missed an opportunity.  If you turned away from the person who was dressed differently or spoke differently or perhaps had piercings or tattoos because of fear or prejudice, you may have missed the opportunity to meet the most interesting person in the room.

So, let go of your fears and allow yourself to get right to the edge of control in life. Take the risk of not being afraid and you will be richly rewarded with a life that is much more interesting and fulfilling.

Do something that scares you today.

Remove the debris in your life…

April 15, 2021

I get a daily newsfeed from Realty Times that contains real estate advice. One article this morning that caught my eye was headlined “Remove the old debris in our lives”. The Realty Times article was about getting rid of the stuff than may have accumulated, especially during the COVID lockdown. It told of a woman who finally bit the bullet and cleaned out her garage, which was so full of debris (stuff) that she could not get her car into it. Does that sound familiar?

As I read the article it popped into my mind that we all carry around tons of mental “debris” in our personal lives, mostly in the form of pre-conceived notions or prejudices. The things in the backs of our minds that kick off knee-jerk reactions to people or events are mental debris – left-over stuff that we have not discarded that serve no useful purpose and may, in fact, have become a disservice. These old mental artifacts may cause us to hesitate or draw back from someone different from us for no good reason. They may direct a decision to do or not do something or to go somewhere or avoid those places out of some unfounded fear.

I often advise people who are getting ready to sell their house to declutter to the extent that people can walk freely through their homes without bumping into things or being afraid to knock something over. Life is like that too. Declutter mentally, so that you can walk through life without fears. There is no reason to limit your experience of all the things that life offers just due to your mental debris.

Just as in clearing clutter from a dark and overstuffed garage, these old bits of mental debris need to be dragged out into the light of day and evaluated with the thought in mind that you will discard those that it serves no good purpose to keep. Unlike some of the odd tools that you may have accumulated over time, there is little excuse to keep these mental bits of debris because, “I may need it again someday.” Fears and prejudices served no real useful purpose when they first came into your life and they certainly won’t be useful someday in the future. Perhaps you had some life experience that conditioned that fear or prejudice into you. It is time to discard that event and put it behind you.

The first step to getting rid of this mental debris is to recognize that it is there and drag it out into the light of logic. Many, like a dark place in the corner of your garage, dissolve where exposed to light. At the least, acknowledging them will let you take steps to discard them. Almost all of the things that make up our mental debris are based upon unfounded fears. Face those fears. Expose them to the light of logic and watch them disappear.

Once you clean out your mental debris, you will find that there is room for new things – new experiences and new friends. You will be able to walk through life without bumping into fears and pre-conceived roadblocks. Life is a little more straightforward and enjoyable without that mental clutter causing detours.

It’s Spring. Time to clean out the mental debris in your life. Prayer makes for a good cleaning tool. Ask God to help you declutter your life and get rid or your mental debris.