We’ve all heard the term “Leap of Faith,” but how many of us actually take leaps of faith when it comes to expanding our relationships, our artistry, our level of service and contribution, or the experience of adventure or fulfillment in our lives? Most of us hold the idea of a leap of faith as a concept while doubling down our perceived insurance policies on security, safety, and the almighty comfort zone. This tends to sound like “When I have enough money saved, I will start the business I’ve always wanted.” or “When the kids are older I will have the freedom to volunteer or travel.” or “When I have more confidence I will take a risk, write a book, make the art, say the thing, apologize, forgive, ask someone out, tell someone I love them.”
Unfortunately, there is an inherent flaw in this plan. Confidence arises when we know that we can deliver a certain outcome. We can’t possibly know that we can deliver anything at all unless we have actually delivered it in the past or at least practiced what it is we intend to deliver. The practice of a new skill, a new way of communicating, new levels of vulnerability, or creating something you haven’t done before will likely be messy, flawed, and full of challenges and the bad news is that it’s the only road to the city of confidence.
If true confidence comes with experience then it stands to reason that action comes first. Confidence comes next. Not the other way around.
Someone shared with me that the word confident comes from two Latin words “con” meaning “with” and “fident” which means faith. To act with confidence means to go forth with faith. This little piece changed everything for me. I may not have had great faith in myself but I had faith in something I had a little practice in.
I recently released my new memoir, Through the Cracks, for pre-sales. Creating and releasing the book was an 18-month journey that took me places I never expected to go, some of those places were dark and shameful. I have been terrified, excited, sickened and heart warmed, nervous, and satisfied. I have experienced self-doubt and moments of pride. I’ve healed old wounds and deepened my level of compassion and empathy. At no time did I actually know what I was doing but I kept going even when everything in me was justifying pulling the plug. “Maybe this is just a personal project?” I thought many times, “I don’t need to publish it.”
Hitting the “publish” button on my website was one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. Writing a book about some of the most vulnerable details of my life and taking full responsibility for them was perhaps the most frightening thing I’ve ever done. Digging up old bones and picking scabs off of old wounds was not a task I was comfortable with at all. Now there would be nowhere to hide, no secrets, and no pretense of any kind of perfection. Would people look at me differently? How would my family react? My heart nearly pounded out of my chest and truth be told my palms are a little sweaty thinking about the thousands of people who will know all about my life. Before the book got all the way to the release date I had no previous experience with writing anything other than high school essays, a few speeches, and some curriculum. Who the hell was I to even want to write a book? In fact, I was so afraid of baring my soul, I had talked myself out of ever writing a book at all. I thought about it many times and came up with a lot of good reasons not to write it, not to share. So what changed? What encouraged me to take a leap of faith and write my story?
You see, I may not have experience with writing a book but I do have a deep desire to be of service in the world. I feel the most fulfilled and lit up about life when I help others. The experience with being of service is messy sometimes, uncomfortable a lot of the time, but unfailingly fulfilling all of the time. The thought that I could help other women who have survived abusive relationships or help other parents who are dealing with children in addiction was compelling to me. Once I got the idea in my head that what I had to say could help, (with a lot of encouragement from a dear friend) I found a way instead of an excuse.
I realized that the skills I would require could be learned, practiced, and improved with some guidance and the willingness to start. I hired great content editors and committed to working with them for months. I envisioned all of the people my story could help when the story felt too raw or too personal to write. I committed to working on the book each day for the better part of a year and I told a lot of people that I was writing the book so I felt accountable.
The book had been a thought for a long time but the catalyst for actually stepping into the arena and writing it was believing that my story might just be medicine for someone else. When I had the thought that I could serve humanity by sharing my story, something that had been a concept suddenly felt like a mission. I felt responsible to share my story as an access point for others to shed the shame of past experiences. Making it about something bigger than myself gave me the courage to take a leap of faith.
You see, I’ve realized that it’s not confidence at all that’s required to take any kind of leap; it’s courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to act in the face of fear. We don’t have to be confident in our ability to deliver. We only have to have the courage to act. How I get the courage to do anything in my life is by attaching the act to service.
What if you knew that apologizing or forgiving or speaking your truth was a great act of service to the people in your life? Could you then garner the courage to take that leap? What if your art could touch someone so deeply that it changes their life? Would you withhold that medicine from the world? What if the business you want to start would create an incredible work environment that has yet to be experienced in the world? What if your idea or invention helps humanity in some small way? I wonder what would be possible if we removed our fear of humiliation, rejection, and judgment and got up to something bigger than ourselves? I for one am on a mission to find out. I hope you’ll join me.
With love and gratitude.