A couple of nights ago The Husband came home from London all excited about a conference he had attended. He handed me a leaflet illustrating the philosophy of the speaker: a motivational expert (when did we start having such job titles? Where was I while it happened?) going by the unforgettable name of Jim Lawless. I thought I was starting hallucinating and had to read it a few times before concluding that it is actually his name. He could have called himself Braveheart and it would have provoked the same effect. But I don’t even know if it’s a show name or his true one. And who am I to judge people’s names?
Mr. Lawless, who is of course British, has no fear. He tours the world giving motivational speeches to middle-aged, often disillusioned and bored corporate employees and showing them that anything is possible. He wrote a book called Taming Tigers to teach people how to manage that inner fear that “snarls at us when we think about making a change in our lives and stops us developing and achieving our potential”. He proves that with his own life: one day, he announced the world he would become a professional jockey in a year time. And he did it, despite being unfit, overweight and never having ridden a horse. He lost 20 kg and actually became a jockey. Bra-vo! Then he also broke the free-diving limit of 100 m, becoming the first Briton to do so. You see why I think that Braveheart would have been an even more suitable name.
Listening half-hearted to this story I armed my cynical antennas and looked at The Husband with a raised eyebrow: “So, if I understand well, you were inspired by a crazy Englishman who runs around doing anything that can provide him the needed dose of adrenaline”.
“You should read the leaflet, it’s perfect for you! Look here, n. 7: it says DO SOMETHING SCARY EVERY DAY”
“Well, it’s not his. Eleanor Roosevelt said it almost a century before him. Do one thing everyday that scares you. Braveheart didn’t invent anything”.
Then I told myself that for once I could renounce being right for the sake of being happy, and looked at the leaflet. Act boldly, rewrite your rulebook, it’s all in the mind, never give up! I’ll take Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice, the others sound too manly to me.
What’s with fear these days? Sheryl Sandberg started at the end of last year urging women to be fearless, the Huffington Post published a series of articles on fear and photos of Facebook’s hq with posters saying “What would you do if you had no fear?” circulated on the social network earlier this year.
Have we become fearful? And when did it happen? Is it because beside the latest decade’s terrorism concerns we had the privilege to grow up in a West largely untouched by wars, famines and real-life worries? What scares you most? What would you do if you were fearless?
I’ll tell you what I’ll do this week to overcome my fears: host a sale. I do it for a friend and I hope at the end it will be fun but it’s a small thing that brings me out of my comfort zone. I can’t sell anything. Not even water to the thirstiest person on earth. But so far I like having my living room full of summer clothes, it’s messy and joyful. I bet the Lawless guy would be proud of me.