All success is overcoming the panic one feels in the face of a challenge

Why can’t this ever get easier?

I desperately want to get this piece of writing done. I’m satisfied with the idea, and the way that I will execute it, but still I have a prickling in my stomach. I am nervous.

When I think about what has to be done, and that I haven’t done it yet, I feel a rising panic.

I am conflicted because I want to finish this. I want to be productive. I want to create new content that others will enjoy.

I want to put more out there so that I don’t dissolve into oblivion as a writer. And yet, I have an urge to run away, to flick over to the other screen. To lie on the bed.

To avoid being here with this.

Why am I doing something that I love to do while at the same time not wanting to be here at all?

How can the two co-exist?

Can they?Then I have to remind myself that I could never love what I do if the work were entirely easy.

I remember that work worth doing moves me a level up in the process.

If I am never pushing a little closer to the edge, the work stays flat, and so do I. It’s not a challenge, and without challenge, there is no growth. I remain the same person.

To stay the same person is to deny the reality of how life works, which is ever-changing. Always in flux.

To do the work I love, I must be growing with it, even if it’s by a hair-width at a time.

So I remember that the anxiety — the mild panic — it’s necessary — during some moments, if not through most of the process. It is a sign that I’m doing the right thing…as long as I understand it, and as long as I stay with that fear and treat it like a friend.

When I think about it, all success is overcoming the panic one feels in the face of a challenge. In the face of ‘the edge.’

Successful people are always pushing to grow, and they know that fear in all its manifestations is an inevitable part of it.

Everything I’ve done that has been worthwhile involved a moment — fleeting or ongoing — of anxiety. Of frustration. Of panic. Of sadness. Of boredom. Of despair. The sense that I wanted to leave. To be somewhere else ‘enjoying’ my life.

And it is when I have managed to stay on course through it all, knowing that on the other side of panic is always a form of bliss, that I have been most rewarded.

We are often told that success is about working hard and working smart. I forget all that, and try to keep in mind two things:

1. I must always be moving towards the edge.
2. I must expect and accept anxiety as I approach the edge.

‘The edge’ is the threshold that delineates new, unexplored ground from the familiar. We grow when we move away from what we know.

The edge is sitting down to write when we’re not in the habit of doing it.

The edge is staying on course with a planned project, rather than moving to something else that seems more novel, more easy.

The edge is improving our writing a tiny bit, even if we’re already in the habit of showing up to do it.

The edge is staying committed to specialisation (seemingly vulnerable, but inherently strong), over spreading oneself thin (seemingly strong, but inherently vulnerable).

The edge is saying no to an addiction that is impeding our ability to grow and succeed.

We all have edges we can be moving towards. Be conscious of these edges in work and life and see them as an invitation — as a necessity even.

When the body and mind see that we’re getting close to an edge, it’s like tripping an alarm.

We know we must grow to move beyond that impending edge. The mind and body can sense this. We are about to change our very physical makeup. New pathways need to form.

We must stretch ourselves or die.

This alarm sets off a rush of chemicals that show up as anxiety.

The scary emotion you feel when you are face to face with that edge is simply a form of energy that can be seen from any perspective you choose.

It is energy that can consume you through rumination, or it is energy that can be redirected powerfully into taking action with freedom, and joy, and play.

We do the latter by watching it and sitting with it. When we watch it and feel it in our bodies, we can see that we are separate from it. It, therefore, cannot control us. The fear is no longer a reality when we can observe it. It is just a feeling.

When we can see that these feelings are not our thoughts, it can only carry us forward.

Over the edge.

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