Let’s talk about Stairway to Heaven, shall we? You guys know that I’m a big music nerd, and Led Zeppelin is absolutely and unequivocally the greatest band of all time. Don’t bother arguing with me.
In Stairway to Heaven, the Zep begins with the simple sparseness of one acoustic guitar being finger-picked. Then they introduce the mellotron flutes. Then ol’ Bobby Plant’s voice enters in a gentle moan. From there, they begin adding layer after layer, building from the hauntingly minor acoustics of the verse, to an electrically charged, melee of victorious rock and roll, guitar solos and John Bonham thrashing the world with wild rhythm. Suddenly, it comes to a head and all drops out, and Robert Plant sings eerily with nothing behind him the final line.
The song is a masterful display of the use of dynamics. The naked ending is powerful because of the build-up of energy immediately before it. Each sections is given power in contrast to what came before. The glorious parts are so glorious, because the subdued parts are so subdued.
Every story of greatness has dynamics. Before things get great, they are bad, they are bleak. Before you break through and conquer… you are afraid.
If it makes you feel any better, I am afraid too. But I have come to expect fear, and I have then embraced fear. I know that I am conquering a worthy goal and therefore I will not back down from the fear.
The interesting and freeing reality is that without the bleakest moments, the highs of victory wouldn’t be so glorious.
Step Three: Identify fear – When I was confronted by disproportionate fear two mornings ago, I stepped back and identified my fear. I asked myself, “What am I actually afraid of?” The answers? I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of success. I’m not positive that my marketing plans will work. I’m not positive that my content will be deemed valuable.
The beautiful thing is that once I was able to identify these specific fears, I was able to rebut each of them, one by one. None of these fears is a reason not to move forward, and yet, left unidentified, the ambiguous fear monster could stand between me and highly valuable action.
It reminds me of when Scooby Doo and the gang pull the mask off of a monster at the end of an escapade, and it’s just some cranky bald white guy trying to steal some gold. Once identified, it’s rarely as scary as it seemed.
Identify your specific fear or fears. Then rebut them. Finally, take action in spite of them.
What do you fear right now that you realize is not worthy of keeping you from your worthwhile goal? Share in the comments below.