I was blessed to see Alison Wright speak at the Tower Theater here in Bend, OR. Alison is a National Geographic photographer and winner of the Traveler of the Year award. She is lauded for her cultural and conflict photography around the world and has a most fascinating life story.
As she recounted the decisions she made along the way that culminated into what is by most standards an extraordinary life, I was most struck by her comment, “I walked through every door of opportunity that presented itself.”
Wow! Who can say with true authenticity that they have done that?!?!? And it’s not that she just said “yes” to just any old thing that came her way, it’s that she said “yes” to opportunities that were scary, that were challenging, that may have been downright dangerous, and that she herself may have believed she was not ready for.
But she said “yes,” and walked through each door of amazing opportunity.
And upon reflecting about my own life, I realized I have done the same. Any time an opportunity presented itself – most recently including moving to Bend, buying Call of the Wild, leading trips in far flung places for my own and for other companies – I have also walked through that door.
Fear is a big part of the process. When an opportunity presents itself, I do a gut check with the emotions that the opportunity elicits. Is it a bad feeling – that intuition juju that we all have – despite appearing to be fantastic on the surface? Then the answer is “no.” Is it a gut wrenching soul shattering fear but the objective is aligned with my purpose in life? Then I take a deep breath (maybe more than one!) and say “yes.”
Take a moment to check in with how you have reacted to key opportunities in life. Did you feel the fear and shrink back?
Saying “no” is not the problem – it’s the reasons you may have said “no” and fear is usually the culprit. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear that you don’t deserve the success…all are common and all are powerful.
So yeah! I get to pat myself on the back for being good about feeling the fear and setting into opportunities that feel rewarding…but upon further reflection, I know my own weakness and how I’ve held myself back.
The next step beyond simply reacting to things that come our way is to CREATE those opportunities. Man, you must really believe in yourself to have a vision of the success you want and then persevere in pursuing it.
I still sit back sometimes and say, “Why don’t I have more demand for Call of the Wild trips that I know are amazing and well priced? Why don’t I have more people knocking down my door for speaking gigs given the feedback I’ve received?“
The problem is working through all of those fears and commit to pursuing and creating the doors of opportunity that I WANT to walk through. I fear failure, rejection, and even success, just like many others do.
So wherever you are on your personal journey – reacting to opportunities or creating them – take the time and take your pulse about why you might not be charging forward with more confidence and gusto.
The answer you will often find is the fear that lives deep within you…and if you address those fears and say “yes“, I guarantee you won’t regret it.