5 Steps To Forging Ahead Fearlessly

5 Steps To Forging Ahead Fearlessly

There’s no doubt that the past six months have been like no other half year in our lifetimes. But there will be good things that come from it, silver linings of a sort.

For example, I believe that there are a lot of people who have used this pause to find themselves, to re-think their direction and goals and what really matters. That’s a good thing. Some people are choosing to start their own businesses. Some are continuing their education. And some are in the process of deciding what’s next for them. Being proactive about what you want to do in this life and staying alert to signs that it’s time to pivot are how we end up with the life we were meant to live.

Here are five steps that I have found to be helpful in my own career journey:

1.    Get quiet- The average knowledge worker in the U.S. is interrupted every 11 minutes by some form of communication. Even at home, finding solitude can be difficult…perhaps your rescue dog, Waldo, wanders in during your Zoom meetings without knocking! But you can do it. You can find a place that will give you room to breathe deep and spend time. This is your life. You only get one. This quiet time you’ll spend is very important if you plan to do your best and use all of the gifts and talents you have to soar. You might even have to go away for a weekend. If so, go for it.

2.    Be introspective- Focus on you for a time. Look deep inside. Recall old dreams that maybe you’ve given up on long ago. Did anybody every ask you what you want to be when you grow up? What did you say when you didn’t know that there were any limitations on the answer? I’m reading Martha Beck’s bestseller, Finding Your Own North Star which helps you identify long buried talents and dreams.

3.    Get to know yourself-There are lots of assessment tools these days. Pick out one or two and see what they tell you. Most of them are amazingly accurate and based on science. Remember that these assessments do not fully define who you are because we are much more complicated than any assessment tool can reveal. But these instruments will certainly give you the trends and guidelines and the taxonomy to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, inclinations, approaches, relationships, etc.

4.    Be comfortable with what you discover- I love the story I read recentlyabout Dr. Virginia Apgar. Never heard of her? Perhaps. But, if you have ever birthed a baby, you most likely have heard of the Apgar Test that she created. Before her test, invented in 1952, there was no objective way to determine the health of a newborn, and babies were given little medical attention immediately after birth. Problems often escaped notice until they became critical. Dr. Apgar created a quick and reliable way to determine the health of a newborn baby, an examination that is usually referred to today as a baby’s Apgar test. Her test is still saving little lives today, every day. If she only had done this one thing, she would be one of the most notable women of the 20th century.

But Virginia Apgar was also a pioneer in several fields of medicine, helping to establish anesthesiology as a medical specialty, working to study and improve obstetrical anesthesia, and advancing the study of birth defects. She helped organize and administer the first Division of Anesthesia at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, her alma mater, and became the first woman to be a full professor there.

Dr. Apgar was also an avid gardener, fly fisherman, and an excellent amateur violinist. She even took flying lessons!

She knew herself well and was comfortable being exactly who she was and she did it so well that she will be remembered and revered, as she should be.

5.    Be fearless- Dr. Apgar’s story is a great segue into this last point. She apparently lived a fearless life. She may have had some concerns about whether or not she could fly an airplane or play the violin, but she didn’t let those concerns stop her or define her.

We can do the same. There’s a lot of important work that needs to be done. If we all bring who we are to the table we can use our uniqueness to find solutions and make the world better. That’s the very definition of a life well lived. I wish that for you.

Forbes.com Contributor

It is a true privilege to be a columnist at Forbes. Forbes is a community of talented people with deep knowledge in their genre.

Following the herd is the road to nowhere.