Look closely at this picture. Do you remember this movie? Indiana Jones is compelled to cross an impassable chasm that has no bridge in order to save his dying father. As he stands frozen in uncertainty, he suddenly sucks in his breath, closes his eyes, and raises up his foot to step into the bottomless cavern. He hesitates…
Have you ever felt like this? You know what you have to do. Perhaps God has made it clear to you or circumstances have played out in a way that you must take action. But you hesitate. You are trained, you have the experience, you even have the desire, but you are frozen.
As I led a coach training this past week, I volunteered to be coached by one of my students in order to let her practice. She started out with a typical coaching question, “What would you like to focus on during our conversation?” I listed a bucketful of possible action steps laying before me pertaining to my personal and professional life. She listened patiently as I listed 5 or 6 possible action steps. I expressed my confusion and even frustration at not knowing which step to take first. This brilliant novice coach then asked me the zinger question that I was NOT expecting. “What is keeping you from choosing an action step?” I sat back in my chair like the air had been sucked out of me. I was thinking I would talk through the pro’s and con’s of each action step, but she pointed me directly to the bulky, submerged portion of the iceberg. The answer was immediately obvious to me: “Fear.” We spent the rest of our 10 minute “practice” coaching session discussing ways for me to overcome or deal with this fear.
Now I know that everyone’s situation is different, but I would like to invite you into my world as I process my reluctance to move forward because of fear.
What am I afraid of?
Fear of Success
If I am successful with my action steps, my life may be altered in some dramatic and exciting ways. My schedule might change as I spend more time doing something I love that at the same time makes it possible for me to spend time with my family. The prospect of succeeding is exciting… and terrifying. Even though the potential future is full of benefits for myself and my family, it is still different. It represents change. Sometimes what “might be” is scarier than “what is” – even when it is better. Isn’t that crazy?
This past week during my devotions I read this verse:
Lazy people take food in their hand
but don’t even lift it to their mouth. (Proverbs 19:24, NLT)
What good is it to stockpile continued education, resources, and endorsements and yet stand frozen when it comes time to put them into use? The Bible calls this “lazy.” Ouch.
Fear of Failure
It is so much easier to hope for the future than to actually step into it. The tagline on my coaching website reads, “Focused action begins with a single step.” As I confided my struggle to a friend recently, she calmly pointed to my website homepage and said, “It looks like you need to take your own advice.” Now that is a true friend.
This week I think that the Lord has been trying to get my attention because I also read this:
The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Proverbs 22:13, NLT)
And again later in Proverbs:
The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road!
Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” (Proverbs 26:13, NLT)
Are you seeing the same pattern as me? Avoiding action because of fear of failure is not called courage or wisdom, it is called laziness. Ouch again.
Lack of Knowledge
As I processed further with my novice coach, I realized that the heart of my hesitation was gaps in my knowledge. I simply did not know which step would be most effective and I had no idea how to best take action. On the surface, I was definitely afraid… but maybe also for a third reason.
Last week I also read this:
Plans succeed through good counsel;
don’t go to war without wise advice. (Proverbs 20:18, NLT)
Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good;
haste makes mistakes. (Proverbs 19:2, NLT)
I wrote these verses down for some reason because they seemed to apply to me. It wasn’t until I entered into this coaching session that the verses came rushing back to me. I believe that this is God’s way of saying, “Hey Amy, pay attention. I care about your future.” Cool.
After Indiana Jones sucks in his breath, he places his hand over his heart, resolutely raises his foot and… steps out onto an invisible bridge. The bridge was such a part of the landscape that it was impossible to see until he stepped out onto it.
So what is my next step? I need to talk to an expert. At the conclusion of my coaching session I decided who I needed to talk to. A couple days later the very person I wanted to consult with passed by me and said, “Hey, let me know if you ever need any help with your business!” Talk about hitting me over the head with a two by four. I stopped what I was doing and said, “Let’s talk. Right now.”
So, what is God calling YOU out to do? Are you paralyzed in fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Or are there simply gaps in your knowledge? Sometimes you might need a coach to draw out of you what you already know, and sometimes you might need an expert (a consultant) to fill in your gaps of knowledge.
Remember this quote from someone who is traveling a similar path as yours, “Focused action begins with a single step.”
QUESTION: What single step will you take this week in response to what you know God is calling you to do? Please comment below.
To learn more about me and the personal leadership coaching I provide to individuals and teams, I invite you to come poke around my website, kick off your shoes, and stay a while. www.coachamydevries.com.