Over the course of this blog series you will have seen that I think there are three significant aspects of a journey worth highlighting: the destination – the ultimate ends the journey aims at, which gives a significant sense of meaning to the journey itself; the path – the actual steps of the journey itself which give us a sense of movement toward meaning; and the drive or passion – the sense of fearlessly pursuing the path towards purpose which creates momentum in our journey.
Again, these are all key parts to a journey filled with personal and professional transformation. However, equally important is the starting point of the journey. And that starting point is a clear assessment of where we are regarding our sense of purpose, path, and passion. They are crucial for experiencing permanent, positive change, but do we have them? And if we do, to what degree?
In this blog series, we have worked to triangulate our starting point and assess where we are in regard to purpose, path, and passion. We began with Purpose and asked, “Am I Scattered?” (Part 1) and “Am I Focussed?” (Part 2) to help us evaluate the level of meaningfulness in our lives. Then in Part 3 & 4, we turned to our Path and asked, “Am I Unsure?” and “Am I Firm?” to evaluate the level of movement in our lives. In Part 5, we turned to address Passion and asked, “Am I Stuck?” to evaluate the level of momentum in our lives. Finally, Part 6 finishes our overview and continues our evaluation of our momentum by asking “Am I Fearless?”
What is a fearless life and what are its markers? A fearless life is one where we have a sense of passion driving us forward. Many different markers could indicate a life that is fearless. Here I offer three as a starting point for assessing your sense of passion. Compare them with your own experience. You’ll find out if you are stuck, or if you experience momentum in a fearless pursuit of your path to purpose.
A fearless life looks beyond the immediate horizon of today’s or tomorrow’s decisions. When we are fearless we recalibrate our sense of the essential against our purpose. We prioritize, rather than get drawn into every decision brought to us. We give our first and best time and attention to the things that are truly important. Further, we acknowledge that we have a limited amount of decision-making energy; and so, we minimize the number of low-stakes decisions we’re responsible for. We do this by making the most of long-range planning and leveraging routine where we can. As a result, we look back and see that we’ve made decisions we can easily live with. Even better, they are decisions that move us towards our big goals.
At its best, this practice of prioritizing some decisions and minimizing or giving away others leaves us with enough energy to truly drive towards our purpose. We maintain a higher level of self-control and willpower because we’re less tired. We take bold action because we’re not looking for the perfect choice, simply a choice that aligns with our values and our sense of purpose. If you regularly share decision making and prioritize decisions based on your larger goals, you are probably fearless.
To evaluate yourself against the marker of returning to vision take the “Am I Crushed by Decisions?” self-check quiz.
A fearless life is one where we actively look to others for support and resources. Rather than accept and carry the mental load of a project or the life of a community/organization (as though it could reasonably be the sole remit of any one person) we invite others to join us. We reach out and ask others to help hold responsibility for the outcomes of projects and the culture of our organization/community. Further, we delegate to others because we trust other people.
Moreover, we acknowledge our own limitations. We model a pattern of identifying and naming mental fatigue in others; and we respond constructively by asking key questions like ‘what do you want?’ and ‘what do you need?’. When we look back, we discover projects are moving forward at a pace that can’t be explained by just our own action items.
At its best, choosing to delegate and invite others to care about our goals leads us to results where the total is greater than the sum of its parts. We find new energy and new freedom to act. We see more projects finished and new initiatives undertaken, and in it all a sense of camaraderie, mutuality, and reciprocity grows and binds the team and community together. If you readily involve others in your work and seek support and resources rather than carrying a fatiguing mental load, you are probably fearless.
To evaluate yourself against the marker of delegating and inviting take the “Am I Drowning in Details?” self-check quiz.
In a fearless life, manageable risk paves the road between where we are and where we want to be. And so, we cultivate an attitude of experimentation instead of control. We try out new ideas and test options in small doable steps. We refuse to let any single attempt to move forward become a make-or-break for us, for our community, or for our organization. Additionally, we choose to gauge strategies by their fit for us rather than relying on the opinions of others. Meanwhile, we may occasionally experience overwhelm, but we have learned that overwhelm is a call to rest. As a result, we invest time in play. As a result, we look toward the future with the joy and optimism of child crossing a stream on steppingstones.
At is best, experimenting with manageable risk gives us a sense of empowerment and adventure that energizes us. We begin to let go of rigid and unreasonable expectations. Then we find that guilt/shame loses its grip on us, freeing us up to try new things. Thus, as we gain more ground, our sense of optimism and possibility grows. And our determination to prioritize rest and play increases our capacity to cope with stress. If you readily try out action steps that draw you just outside your comfort zone, you are probably fearless.
To evaluate yourself against the marker of experimenting with the manageable take the “Am I Paralyzed by the Gulf?” self-check quiz.
If these markers sound familiar, or you used the self-check quizzes and the results raised some hopeful possibilities, you might well be fearless. A fearless life certainly sound promising and even releasing, but you might ask is being fearless truly significant? The answer is simple but profound:
All of us want a sense of momentum. We want rising passion and fearlessness as we pursue paths toward the larger ends our lives are aimed at. A fearless life where we consistently return our focus to our vision in order to prioritize decisions and recover drive; where we regularly delegate and invite others to share cognitive labour and find space for the big picture; and where we consistently experiment with manageable risk and find freedom to act; is a life that leads to experiencing momentum.
If you’ve discovered you are focussed, firm, and fearless, and you want to amplify your momentum, coaching can help. Make an appointment here or check out the upcoming blog: “The Goal of Fulfillment”.