Learning to be fearless: one step at a time

I took a long weekend for a random, last-minute getaway to the Hudson Valley. It is absolutely beautiful and it was also a chance for me to connect by disconnecting.

During a day hike at Bonticou Crag, I came across my first rock scramble. What is a rock scramble? Well it’s a way up a mountain that involves scrambling up rocks, using your hands! This particular rock scramble is 150 feet up, which is high enough to make you wonder if it’s a good idea or not to climb.

What I was reminded of was that there is no one way. There is no right or correct path. The “rocks” are scrambled randomly and it is on you to find your own way. That is your journey. Every single person who has gone this journey has taken their own path, no two paths the same. It is useless to even try to describe the path to someone, as they will end up taking their own (or worse, put themselves at risk by blindly following your path versus creating their own).

At many times during the journey (up the rock scramble), I was convinced it was not safe and I should return down. I was talking myself “down” versus “up”. Consistently. And agreeing with myself that it’s okay to not climb it because I was feeling scared.

I found myself wishing someone else was with me. Or that anyone random was also doing it. That would make me feel safe and feel that it’s okay to try. I was looking outside for a leader when the whole while, the leader was sitting inside of me.

When I looked way up at the top, at the steep rocks, I could only help but be filled with feelings of fear, anxiety and doubt. The path was not clear at first, or even later actually. I found myself confused and uncertain when trying to plan too far ahead.

I was most at ease and felt safe and comfortable when I focused on “the next step”. Setting small, incremental goals as my focus. Bringing my attention to what was immediately in front of me, versus trying to plan out the entire journey. Staying focused on “single tasking” (versus multi-tasking) was paramount.

What I experienced during those moments when I brought my attention to the next step, were feelings of momentum, energy, enthusiasm, excitement and a sense of fearlessness. I saw progress along the path, even though I was not sure how in the world I was going to make it to the top. I discovered new paths up the mountain that I could not see before when trying to plan the entire trip in my head. My perspective changed (literally) as a made my way up the mountain, and new paths opened up that I could not see before.

And focusing only on the next step, I ended up at the top of the mountain without even realizing it.

We often have a vision of where we want to go but will get intimidated by not knowing how to get there. And because the path to achieve the vision may not be clear from the start, we often don’t even try.

Being fearless is taking that first step, and the next step, and the next step, even though the full path may not be clear. Being fearless is to trust that if you continue to take the next step, one step at a time you’ll get closer to realizing your vision.

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Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar. He leads a talented team transforming the media publishing industry with technology. He is passionate about leadership and finding focus in a modern era, read more on his personal leadership blog on Medium or connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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