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The Fear Boundary

White Law Office, Co. > Cultural  > The Fear Boundary

The Fear Boundary

Several members of our firm attended the ProVia Leadership Symposium recently. I walked away with several lessons from every speaker, but a few things specifically stood out to me from Erwin Raphael McManus‘ presentation.

“What you fear establishes the boundaries of your freedom.”

Fear finds us all. Personally, as a kid, I was afraid of normal things – like heights – but I was also afraid of being called to missions, especially to Africa. The only clue I had for why it scared me was because I couldn’t visualize it – I didn’t know what to expect, and it seemed too far from home. Ironically, I eventually participated in several missions trips that changed my life, the longest of which was in the heart of Africa, Uganda, where I later returned to during law school. Now missions will always have a big part of my heart. But when I went on my first missions trip, at 16, I was terrified. Cold sweats, couldn’t-eat-couldn’t-sleep terrified. More terrifying now is the thought of what I would have missed if I had never overcome my fear if I had never gone.

Because I only overcame my fear by going. If I had waited until I was comfortable and unafraid, I would have never gone.

As for my fear of heights (which admittedly, was not as crippling as it is for some), two years ago, I jumped off a cliff in Hawaii. I know, jumping into clear blue water is not as terrifying as some alternatives, but still – it was a 40-foot leap! Despite my fear of not only the height but also falling off the sketchy ladder I’d have to use to climb back up, I jumped. I didn’t want fear to hold me back from a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Which is kind of how I felt about law school.

“Myth: if I’m supposed to do it, then it should come naturally.”

This really raised its head in law school. If you’ve ever had to write an essay in a language that you neither read nor speak, that’s what it felt like on a typical day in law school. It would’ve been so easy to say, “This is hard, I’m not understanding this, so law must not be for me!” But I would’ve been SO wrong. Who gets to decide what the “right” career is for me, anyway? Just me.

You don’t learn by reading material you already know or doing something that you already know how to do. You learn by doing something you’ve never done before and stretching the limits of your understanding.

So, finally…

“Greatness requires sacrifice, suffering, resilience. Greatness never emerges without hard work.”

In order to be good at what we do, whether that’s parenting, working, playing sports, public speaking, or anything else, we need to do what scares us. This means constantly challenging ourselves, stepping out of our comfort zones.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life that isn’t defined by fear. To extend the “boundaries of freedom” we need to continually step out into the unknown, going deeper, higher, and further.

Next up, skydiving?

Moriah E. Schmidt

Attorney At Law

1 Comment

  • Rachael E Archambault
    Reply May 22, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Lovely piece Moriah. I particularly appreciate the reminder that becoming good or great at something requires diligent hard work. Not many have a “natural affinity” for most things and becoming skilled takes time and effort 🙂 Which we often forget so easily!

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