You’ve probably heard this phrase. The idea is that really important, creative work is also scary, and that you can find the most important work by just doing what makes you most afraid.
But it never quite made sense to me. I mean, there are lots of scary things that you shouldn’t pursue. Jumping off tall buildings. Mugging a drug dealer. Feeling exactly how electrified the third rail is.
And there are non-ridiculous things I also fear, and also don’t intend to do. Skydiving and motorcycles, for example. Activities that, while not suicidal, are much less safe than, say, an afternoon at an art gallery.
But here’s the thing: Until I had to come up with examples for this post, I spent roughly zero time thinking about any of those things. Because my mind can recognize things that are scary for a reason, and it doesn’t bother putting them into my conscious thoughts.
But something you think about a lot, mull over, but don’t do because it’s scary? There’s a reason your unconscious keeps putting that into your thoughts. That’s the sort of fear you should follow: The activities you keep thinking about, but turning away from out of fear.
(Unless you keep obsessing about how cool it would be to mug a drug dealer. That one, you should probably let go.)