Be Fearless: Stories That Will Inspire You to LIVE Your Life
Pursuing Personal Passions
But what about when the aspiration is less lofty? When it's your personal passion or dream that requires boldness? Faith in yourself is key, says Mary Wilson, 63, for whom disbanding the Supremes and going solo is one of the scariest things she's ever done. "I'd been a Supreme since I was 13, and being in a group was all I knew," she says. But at 31, she forged ahead with a solo career, because deep down, she believed in herself. As a spokeswoman for Speaking of Women's Health, a nonprofit foundation educating women to take charge of their health, Wilson now counsels others about finding inner confidence.
When you're leaping into the great unknown, sometimes all you can do is prepare, says Joanna B. Pinneo, 52, a contributing photographer for National Geographic. While on assignment, she has traveled through sandstorms with nomads from Sudan, flown in single-engine planes to the Arctic Circle, and hidden behind trash cans to avoid being hit by stray bullets in the West Bank. Pinneo says her courage comes from knowing that she's done everything she can to protect herself. "I hire the best guide, make sure I've got the proper clothes, check my equipment, and once everything is in order, I say, 'Let's go,'" she explains. "My dad says I do the riskiest things in the safest way."
Fearlessness also requires mental prep work, adds Misty May, 30, an Olympic gold medalist and AVP pro beach volleyball player. "In a big game or when a match is on the line, you don't have room for error or time to think," says May. "So what makes me a fierce competitor is my mental practice. From running through scenarios over and over in my mind, I just know I'm going to put the ball away when it comes to me. If you tell your brain something often enough, your body will just follow."
Another way to keep your nerve up is to take a matter-of-fact approach. As a referee in the NBA, the first woman referee in fact, Violet Palmer, 43, has had to stare down the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and insert herself between players before they start swinging at each other. "Once the ball goes up, I'm at work," says Palmer. "I don't care how tall a player is. He's not getting in my face. I'm not putting up with his crap. I'm just running the game, doing my job."
Or think of the leap or plunge as a way of honoring your commitment to yourself, suggests Susan Piver, 44, a meditation teacher and author of How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life. That's how she dove into the great unknown of marriage. "I loved the man who's now my husband, but I also loved my life exactly the way it was. I found the courage to leave it for something that was truly terrifying to me because I contextualized it as a risk I needed to take to grow as a human. I decided I owed it to myself to try," explains Piver.
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