The following is a list of personal challenges I designed to catalyse mastery of fear. The program is structured in five categories which represent the five fundamental fears: mortality, scarcity, inadequacy, condemnation and liberation.
The main purpose of setting out this entire list from the beginning is so I can understand where I started from as a natural consequence of personal growth is a shift in perspective. I’ll lay out the specific requirements for each challenge closer to the time. I reserve the right to change items if they loose their appeal; but I’ll always replace them with alternatives which are every bit or more awesome.
overcoming the fear of mortality
death defiance, daring do and transcendence of physical limitation
I’ve had the opportunity to do a bungee four times in the past and always chickened out. Figured it would be a good way to kick things off. What can I say? You only have to be brave for a moment.
This one really excites me. Similar fear times one thousand. I’m expecting a transcendental experience. Did I mention I have a fear of heights?
Epic Vertical Climb
I do mean epic. It has to be beyond merely recreational. Something that requires sustained focus and nerve. Venturing into impossible territory now.
Swim with Sharks
I originally had Fire Walking in this position, but after a little research concluded that it’s not actually as scary as I had imagined. Now, Sharks on the other hand most definitely are scary. In fact, after a little more research I discovered that they are thoroughly terrifying. Thanks to Jodi for suggesting this challenge.
Why hang gliding? I’m not quite sure. There’s other things I could have chosen here. I thought about running a marathon, but there was a little problem with that: I don’t really want to. I’m all for pushing the limits, but unless there’s desire it misses the point. I chose hang gliding because it would be thrilling but it seems nigh on impossible. Perfect, really.
overcoming the fear of scarcity
brazen entrepreneurship, philanthropy and other affirmations of abundance
Scarcity is the belief that there’s not enough and that because of that we have to jealously guard what we have. Its the fear that keeps people in jobs they hate and the root of every human conflict. I’ve had just about enough of it.
Prove there’s more than enough
Put $1000 aside to be given away freely, gladly for the good of others.
One part of me thinks this should be easy. Another part of me wants to skip it and choose something else. Why? Generosity feels good, but often we hold ourselves back because subconsciously we believe that the supply is limited and that when we give wealth away there will be less left for us. That’s not a belief that’s congruent with material abundance.
Say goodbye to working for money
Like most people on the planet, I’ve become a little too attached to the idea that I have to keep doing what I’m doing to pay the bills. But if money is your primary reason for doing something, it’s time to call it a day. There’s no shortage of opportunity to do what you love. My challenge is to believe it. To demonstrate it. To say goodbye to the old system whether I’m ‘ready’ to or not.
Follow your bliss to meaningful work
Refuse to settle for a half-life. Refuse to spend your days doing something that doesn’t light your fire. Commit to living a passionate life, a meaningful life. Stop waiting. Stop marking time. Make a radical career change. This kind of goes hand and hand with the previous challenge, but it’s a big deal so I figured it’s worth double points.
Do full time volunteer work for 1 month in a developing country. The volunteer work itself is not scary. In fact, I think it’s pretty exciting. What’s scary is not having an income. I’m not allowed to do any paid work for the duration of this challenge so in order to support myself (and my family) through it, I either need to save up in advance or live on passive income streams—assuming I’ve managed to create any.
Be an Entrepreneur
I’ve fancied myself an entrepreneur for a long time, and while I like to think I take an entrepreneurial attitude towards life, I’ve never built a business that’s bigger than myself. Why? Basically afraid of going broke; or losing what I have. The challenge here is to build something to make the world a better place—a big, scary, worthwhile project— and fund it. Raise capital; invest capital if necessary. It has to be bigger than me.
overcoming the fear of inadequacy
dauntless self mastery, openness, vulnerability
Meet your heros
This is an example of the times 100 principle.
My initial goal here was just to get someone inspiring on the phone for a few moments. Then I started thinking about in-person meetings. Then I realised what I actually want to do is do in-depth interviews with inspiring people. I plan to use this blog as a platform for leveraging that. I’m also raising the bar on the league I want to eventually reach.
Let go of disempowering relationships
Did I mention yet I’ve had an issue letting go of things? Yeah, relationships too. Not so much out of insecurity on my part; often it’s a sense of obligation or fear of hurting others, and perhaps of the void. Deep breath…
Dance like no one’s watching
Dance is so joyous. As is song. But both activities cause me to bottle up. Unless I know some steps I feel extremely inhibited. Why is this so scary? I think I’m afraid to let go. To be out of control. Or just to look dumb. Maybe it’s poor body-image. What ever it is, I’m showing it the door.
Model for a life drawing class
Like, you know: without any clothes. I would never think to do this. In fact it’s a mistake. How did this get on here?
overcoming the fear of condemnation
audacious creativity or courageous authenticity in the public arena
Show yourself to the world
Put your smiling face on a YouTube video. Tell the world your message. What’s so scary about that? Commitment. Taking a stand. Being open to criticism. Throwing away the comfortable blanket of anonymity.
Sing your heart out
Music was the center of my life for a long time. I performed (mostly Piano) a fair bit in years past; but I’ve always had a great phobia of singing. I think it’s because I’m afraid to let go and be vulnerable. Even the prospect of karaoke makes me shrivel into a ball. I so want to crush this, big time. I wont stop until I’ve sung a solo for a live audience of at least 500 people.
Give an impassioned speech
Similar fear, different arena. Public speaking is one thing, but impassioned speaking is a whole other level. To speak with profound conviction; to bare your soul; to move people; to hold them in the palm of your hand and fill the room with your aura. Therein lies a challenge. Giddy up.
Rally the troops
To be a leader. A real leader who can empower and persuade others to give their efforts a worthy cause. Build a team; inspire them to action. Create art that touches many. It must be my own initiative. It must be bigger than me.
Make ‘em laugh
Comedy. Hard to think of any other art where failure is so crushing. Courage wont help you here. You have to be in the zone. It requires great rapport, confidence, nerve; oh yeah, and you have to be funny. Why is this so hard? Same reason anything is hard: identity. I don’t think I can do it. Can hardly wait.
overcoming the fear of liberation
fearless embrace of the unfamiliar, personal emancipation and defiance of all limitation
This category is all about doing new things. Things that lie outside your current identity. Things that require you to break patterns and embrace the unknown. I had a really tough time thinking up what these would be.
Be in a movie
Okay, so making movie’s isn’t really scary per se. But doing something that’s radically different from what you usually do takes a bit of moxie. This is an exercise in stepping outside the box and playing in a different industry. It doesn’t necessarily need to be films, but that seems like a fun place to dip your toes in the water.
Play Spin the Planet
Here’s how to play Spin the Planet. Materials: 1 globe of the earth, one blindfold, one friend, one sense of adventure. Method: 1. don the blindfold, 2. have your friend spin the globe, 3. pin the tail on the donkey. 4. reveal your destination. If it’s somewhere you’ve been before, you have to spin again. If not, you have 24 hours in which to purchase a plane ticket departing within the next 3 days. Bon Voyage.
Live in an unfamiliar country for 3 months
I got a taste of this when I moved to Thailand in 2007; but I had my wife to guide me through it so it was a relatively gentle transition in that respect. I’d like to try this again without the safety net.
Ride a motorcycle across Asia
So, maybe I’ve been watching too much Top Gear, but this seems like a great way to see the world. It’s one of those things which seems great in the abstract but I really have no idea what this might actually be like. I mean—it’s a long, long way. It’s way outside of my current schema. I have no idea how I might do this so it’s sure to be a life changing experience.
Go into space
This is really the most audacious thing on this entire list. I have no idea how this can happen. Maybe my buddy Richard Branson will give me comps to a Virgin Galactic flight.
What are you afraid of doing?