Excerpt from Take the Stairs by Rory Vaden
I once heard a true story of a woman who was trapped in a burning building on the 80th floor. Intensely scared of heights and enclosed spaces, she absolutely refused to follow her colleagues into the stairwell to evacuate to safety.
She could not handle the thought of going down the stairs being able to look down in the middle all the way to the bottom. And the thought of being trapped inside the enclosed stairwell was just too much to endure and so instead she made a conscious choice to hide under her desk and wait to die.
Some firemen made it up to her floor and were doing a sweep of the building when they found her with enough time to where they could still get her out. They told her she would have to take the stairs or she would surely burn alive in the flames. She knew this, but she was paralyzed with fear.
Finally a fireman grabbed her and picked her up and started dragging her towards the stairs. She wouldn’t stop kicking and screaming “I’m scared! I can’t do it because I’m scared!”
The fireman grabbed her by her shoulders and yelled in her face over the flames:
“THEN DO IT SCARED.”
What task are you putting off starting because you are scared of failing? What job or school application are you delaying because you fear being rejected? What desk are you hiding under as the flames get closer and closer?
Feeling scared doesn’t mean you’ll fail. Failing doesn’t mean your life is over. When your life is over, all that matters is what you tried.
I don’t care what you’re hiding from. I don’t care how small of a step towards your goal you need to take to be able to come out from under that desk. I don’t care if you’re scared. Because you know this is important, and the only way to expand our comfort zone is to take baby steps outside out of it. It’s okay to be scared.
You’re never going to feel ready – so do it scared.
Further reading: If this resonated with you then you would benefit from Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, PhD. She outlines very clearly how some people let their failures define them, and it creates enormous pressure on everything they do. She also outlines how we can change that into a growth mindset where setbacks teach us instead of labeling us a failure.
I’m always going to remember this from now on whenever I’m scared—-“Do it scared.” Who would have thought words could hold so much power?! How much strength that lady must have gained in that moment when those words reached her ears.