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Facing Your Fears Brings Achievements

When was the last time you purposely put yourself in a situation where you would feel fear? Can you remember the difficulty you faced? Did you experience the intensity of the moment?

Many times we go through life avoiding situations that cause us to be afraid. Fear is appraised internally, and we decide to not take part in the activity. We recognize that there is some risk facing us and decide not to go forward. Oftentimes we totally abandon the activity and never return to it.

Avoiding situations due to fear, may limit your opportunities and growth. Something inside us resists the temptation to try a fearful activity due to a feeling of discomfort, failure, or defeat. Yet as we reflect over our lives, oftentimes our greatest achievements were made as a result of facing our fears.

I experienced intense fear this week as I sat in a monoski on the top of a mountain in Colorado. Since I now must ski from a seated position due to my paralyzed legs, I must learn new skills. The mountain looked so steep, even though it was rated as a beginner´┐Żs slope. My perspective of fear was more intense sitting close to the snow.

This is my second season of learning to ski anew. With outrigger poles on my arms, and my body strapped into the seat, at times I felt like I was a speeding sled out of control. The mechanics of skiing on one ski are quite different than skiing on two skis. My arms and shoulders had to be strong enough to direct every turn and slow my speed.

I was afraid a good deal the first day. I listened intently to the words of the instructor. I sought constructive feedback and made full effort to correct my form. Muscles ached. Tension set in. My teeth were clenched. My arms were stiff. I was fighting the mountain. I knew that gravity would always win, and somehow I needed to use gravity to my advantage.

I had a goal for this ski trip. I aimed at skiing the intermediate slopes. I wanted to once again ride the chair lift to the top of the highest peak and ski the same slopes with my husband, Mark, that we had skied before I was injured. I kept this goal in mind during my ski lessons.

I needed more mileage. Skiing the same beginner hill over and over gave me a small dose of confidence. I was breathing, relaxing and getting into the groove and rhythm. I was even smiling and starting to enjoy the descent.

On the second morning, as comfort set in, I agreed to go up the chair lift to the upper range of mountains to ski the intermediate slopes. My adventure had begun. The steepness of the slopes terrorized me at first. These same hills I had skied before my injury looked steeper and more complex. The surface of the snow was more difficult to ski due to the mounds of fresh snow and bumps. A new challenge faced me. Fear grew. I realized that this was the time that I had looked forward to. It was now time to harness confidence and only think of succeeding.

Taking all the instructions from the morning into my memory, I positioned the monoski downhill. As I glided across the steep hill, I forced my body to look down the hill as the instructor had taught me. Looking down a steep slope intensified my fears, yet soon I realized that this body orientation was critical to controlling the ski.

Soon I reached the bottom of this intermediate slope and crossed back over to the beginner slope in order to get back on the chair lift. The beginner slope was now very easy for me to ski. My abilities had reached a new level. I was zooming down with ease.

Learning to ski again teaches me about who I am and what I can do. Where else in life would I be so physically and mentally challenged? Facing my fears on the slopes better prepares me for everyday living.

We can choose to live an adventure, or live each day without challenges. It is a conscious choice. Out of our adventures come happy memories and experiences that we treasure.

What can you do to challenge yourself? What goals have you identified and shoved off to the side because you were afraid to start working towards them?

You cannot be paralyzed at the thought of the challenges that face you, but rather see obstacles as opportunities for personal growth. Trust yourself, test your limits and have the courage to succeed. Take success in small doses.

Each new experience brings with it some measure of success. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Copyright © 2000, Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.

Byline: Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. would like to read your comments about her column and the impact it has made on your life. She also encourages your ideas for future columns. Contact her at: Rosemarie@RosemarieSpeaks.com, or 1008 Eastchester Dr., Columbus, OH 43230-6230.

To book Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. to speak at a conference, contact her at: (614) 471-6100; www.RosemarieSpeaks.com. Rosemarie works with organizations and corporations that want to bring out the best in their people, and she demonstrates how to live life with conviction.