Last year, I bought a key to put around my wrist on a daily basis that had the word “Fearless” on it. I wanted to become that word so badly it was eating away at me. Frustration came when all I felt was fearful. I kept putting they key on, every morning on my right wrist, and I would look down at it to remind myself to simply be fearless. But I let myself down because it was anything but simple. I ran in opposite directions, hid, and cowered away from things if I couldn’t walk up to it without a single remnant of fear in my bones. I was never meeting the expectation that I had for myself so I would never take the next step.
Then this past summer, I kept hearing the message be | b r a v e |. At first, fearless and brave meant the same thing to me. Frustration only rose into anger and bitterness because I couldn’t be brave if I couldn’t be fearless. I was wondering if I would ever be able to make “progress”, if the key would ever be able to come off my wrist…
Until this year when I read this quote from Michael Hyatt,
“More often than not, being BRAVE means doing it scared.”
Cue the gasp…I re-read that quote multiple times and I am pretty sure I would have shared it countless times if people wouldn’t think I was technologically impaired.
If I had done more when I was scared with an overarching tone of bravery then I feel like the year of frustration would have looked very different for me. It shook me solely because I feel like as a young leader, if I I would have spent less time worrying if I was going to make a mistake and more time taking the great gamble of risk (with self awareness, appropriate questions, and seeking wisdom) then I would have realized that being fearless maybe isn’t really even a thing…but being brave is.
And being brave doesn’t mean that I will always have it all figured out in time to move. Most times I will probably have very little figured out and my perfectionism will have to be ok with trying and failing and evaluating and moving on with what I learn.
I am currently twenty one while writing this, and probably handling much more than a twenty one year old should be. I get frustrated when people say, “You’re so young!”, whether as a compliment or an indirect insult, because I don’t want to be. It’s my own hurt that I feel like I haven’t “arrived”, but don’t worry because God and I are dealing with that together every day. “Young” often feels like a label that makes me unqualified, exempt, or in need of temporary grace because I don’t and shouldn’t or can’t know know better at my age. I would rather “young” be the thing that strikes bravery, potential, and risk taking adventure in myself and others because sometimes young shouldn’t be the thing putting me in the box, but rather putting me outside of it saying, “you can do this!”.
I know there is some truth to those implied connotations with being young because as a current millennial I definitely feel the pressure and answer the questions in my own head that I’m not qualified or good enough to be leading at this age. I know that I have a long way to go, a lot to learn, and a lot of growing to do. But I also hope to know, acknowledge and remember that the growing doesn’t stop, and the learning doesn’t stop. If I ever reach a point where I feel like I know it all or that I have arrived, it may be time for me to humble myself and move on to something where I am forced to climb back down the ladder. I hope that I remember this feeling in twenty years when I am leading someone younger with so much spunk, potential, and willingness… when there are people questioning them and believing in them simultaneously. I pray that the leader I will be by then is one who would coach and teach and let them be an adventure seeker, just as others have been that for me.
I have been unbelievably encouraged to do things scared…
I’ve been lead to believe in myself and to also walk humbly and I hope I hold onto that forever. I have been surrounded by unbelievable leaders who have taken the time to get to know me and my wiring, who have challenged me, who tell me the wonderful and difficult truths about leadership, yet I know at the end of every day that they are my people and are on this gritty ride with me. It isn’t perfect, but nothing is. What I love most about this circle of influence is that when there is tension, we will address it and we are stronger for it. I hope that if that is something you haven’t had the pleasure and stretching pain of experiencing then you would realize it is possible.
You will shine and you will fall.
You will make mistakes and you will fix them.
You will start things and end things and make-shift things as you go along.
You will never always get it right.
You will need to make decisions and lead strong through adversity.
You WILL need to rely on grace and love and truth about who you are and who you were made to be.
Surround yourself with people who believe the same. Who will encourage and guide and give you the tough love and the empathy when you need it. You will carry each other.
So, I am doing it scared. I hope you might too. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a young adult, or a seasoned leader…our circumstances are always going to provide tension and unmatchable joy, but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes things come up that we never anticipated or never dreamed and we are called to lead and maneuver our own dreams, emotions, and values.
But be brave, and do it scared. Whether you are young or not, people need your leadership. Others want to see you move, God wants to see you move, and I am sure you want to see you move too…
Take the risk so that there is unmatchable potential to achieve the dreams and pursue the passions that have been placed deep within our hearts.