Be fearless!

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This past weekend, I was watching my one-year-old "flying" down the slide, the look of pure glee on her face as she picked up speed and then landed on her nappy-covered bottom with a gentle thud on the grass below, only to pick herself up, run into my arms with laughter, pointing to the slide so that we could repeat the entire process again … and again … and again. This child is absolutely fearless. And with two slightly older brothers to learn from, it's not surprising."

Watching her reminded me of myself when I was three or four years old, playing with my older brother in the park near our parents' cafe. Our game was to swing as high as we could and to jump off and 'fly' in the air before landing on the ground … the winner being whoever landed the furthest. Talk about being fearless!!

I wonder though, what happened to that fearless little girl. Because when I think back to my school days and the last 20 years of my adult life, somewhere along the way, fearlessness was replace by fear: fear of taking risks, of failing, of succeeding, of not being perfect… and it's not just me. When we talk about stepping out of our comfort zones, the women who attend the RenewYou workshop say that fear (of "something") is what stops them from pursuing or achieving their dreams and aspirations.

Numerous studies have been carried out demonstrating the confidence gap that exists between men and women. In her March 2016 TED Talk Teach girls bravery, not perfection, Reshma Saujani talks about how "…most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure…", and how we "…raise our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave…" and that this has an impact later on in their adult lives, especially in their careers. If we're teaching our girls to be perfect, we're teaching them that taking risks is not okay, and so the fear of failure begins at an early age. Boys on the other hand, because they are raised to be brave and to take risks from childhood, when they reach adulthood, taking risks is already a habit; it's part of who they are.

Separate research tells us that women will only apply for a position if they meet 100% of the criteria (no risk taking), whereas men apply when they only meet 60% of the requirements (taking a risk). Fear of failure, of not doing something perfectly, has immense consequences in the careers of women; it certainty resulted in missed opportunities in my career.

So, how do I ensure that my fearless baby girl grows up brave and maintains her adventurous little spirit? I hold my breath every time she climbs onto and over the couch, or up the slide, or on the jungle gym, and I encourage her to be brave as I do with my boys (whilst standing not too far away, just in case they need me ;) ). And I hope that as she grows up, I will continue to foster her fearlessness to prepare her for the world of work.

I've also realized that if I want to raise brave children, I need to be brave myself and step out of my own comfort zone and challenge my self-limiting beliefs. And as I say to my workshop ladies, stepping out of your comfort zone means exactly that … taking it one step at a time, until one day, before you know it, your comfort zone has moved and you're doing or achieving that thing you never thought was possible.

When last did you step out of your comfort zone? How often do you let your fears stop you from taking risks and pursuing your goals? Be the fearless young girl you once were and start today, working towards the dreams you've put aside because you don't want to fail. You won't fail; you will learn and you will grow, and before you know it, you will have achieved.

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