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  • Writer's pictureJudy C. Arnold

The “F” Factor—do you have it?

How you can and why you should…

Has anyone ever called you fearless? When it comes to my personal life, I’m not very adventurous. But recently, when my husband and I took a special trip to Hawaii for the first time, he suggested ziplining—over treetops and waterfalls! I do not like heights. I do not visit light houses or observation decks with scant railings or glass floors. And, I occasionally get motion sickness. Not a great combination. Just watching the promo video made my heart race.

Yet, I didn’t want to miss out. (Okay, so maybe I have FOMO, too!) That said, I did it.

The Big Island’s Umauma Falls Zipline tour sent us zipping 30 miles an hour on 9 zip lines, across 2 miles, over 14 rushing waterfalls, suspension bridges, and treetops. The first zipline provided a false sense of security and calm as we walked up a few steps to a relatively low platform and traveled a short distance across the field. Line 2, however, was the critical test. The worst part was walking up the slightly rickety wooden steps to the 65-foot-high platform. My heart was pounding in my chest and I took several deep breaths chanting in my head, “I will not faint.” (Yep, been there/done that!) Stepping up on the main platform, I had to then walk up and stand on 2 more narrow steps and lean against a pole. The tour guides latched my harness to the line to secure it then casually told me to jump off. That is the most unnatural feeling. Focusing on the horizon in the distance, and not looking down, I made the leap. I gradually glanced down to see a 100-foot waterfall, almost 300 feet below me, and the top of Mauna Kea mountain in the distance. After that, flying along the remaining 7 lines, I became more and more comfortable, slowly releasing my death grip on my lifeline and enjoying the view spinning past me.

Ironically, at work, I have been called fearless. There have been many times in my career when I was offered a promotion when I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. But that didn’t stop me. When I discovered a process was taking too long or was too cumbersome, I invented a new streamlined procedure. When I was asked to start a new department within the company, I jumped in with both feet and figured it out. I’ve learned many digital marketing skills on the job and have always, fearlessly, welcomed a new challenge.

I recently heard Ava DuVernay, an award-winning filmmaker, speak at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. She had a great perspective on the topic. She said that although she has been called fearless, she thinks of it as ‘fearing less’ not as ‘having no fear at all.’

Leadership guru John Maxwell believes that constant growth is critical to unlock your full potential. He has said that “Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.” And, “You have to stretch to grow.”

For some, that’s easier said than done. So how do you go about it? To get started, it requires a mindset change. And, it takes practice and patience. It builds your confidence and changes your priorities. Ultimately, it will change the way you work every day.*

The biggest fears to overcome at work are failure and the unknown. Corporate cultures that reward testing, innovation and learning understand that failing is just ruling out what doesn’t work so you can get closer to figuring out what does work. Take careful, calculated risks. And welcome the unknown as an opportunity to learn.

Being fearless isn’t about becoming a superhero. Instead, it’s about gradually being afraid of one less thing and pushing your boundaries a little bit at a time. It’s about finding the courage to tackle the unexpected. Ultimately, having that ‘f’ factor will allow you to experience a powerful and meaningful transformation and greater personal and professional satisfaction.

* Sep 3, 2018, Jennifer Davis, Forbes Contributor, “Becoming Fearless: 5 Moves for Marketers,”

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