“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”- Eleanor Roosevelt.
This morning before I delivered my Fear Is Your Future keynote at Universal Music in Santa Monica, one of the participants handed me this quote. It appeared on his daily quote notepad and he felt the need to give it to me. I thanked him, placed it in my handbag and went on to deliver my keynote. At the conclusion, a different participant asked me, “What are you afraid of now given you’ve stepped into some big fears?”
Fast forward a few hours and I'm sitting in a Melrose Place coffee shop only to look up to see the image below painted on the huge wall in front of me.
I returned to my hotel room later in the day exhausted and reached into my handbag. Out came the quote. I read it, sat on the edge of the bed and reflected back to those two moments earlier in the day. Then the question presented itself ... what is it that I fear most when I travel alone? I realised quite quickly it was my own company. Why does it feel so awkward to book a table for one? Does the discomfort lie in worrying about what others will think when they see me sitting alone? I wondered how I might apply what I teach in intentional adaptability to this personal challenge.
What if I brought focus, courage and curiosity to the table with me? Was I capable of shifting my lens whilst dining alone away from my ego and more towards just observing myself?
It was at that moment that I decided to face my fear of the dinner date for one. I headed out the door to Tao in Hollywood, I figured if I was going to ride the edge of my comfort zone, I was going to do it somewhere interesting.
What happened? There was no hiding behind liquid courage as I'd pressed the pause button on wine for the month whilst I tested a vegan diet. Instead, I sat, watched the world around me, ate some amazing vegan food, knocked back two virgin cocktails and then put pen to paper. I filled two pages writing down how it felt to hold up the mirror, what was going through my head, why I was feeling the way I did and what the experience was teaching me. Was it awkward? Hell yes, but then I started to relax and enjoy myself even though I was the only person in the restaurant seated alone. My own company wasn’t as excruciating as I thought it would be and I realised this was way more fun than sitting in my hotel room watching Netflix.
This experience left me questioning what if the happiness we seek is not found in focusing on the wanting for what we don't have, but on the other side of the things we avoid?
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