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An Affair With The Unknown

Iruka A. Ndubuizu

by Iruka A. Ndubuizu

A few months ago, I declared to some friends that one of my goals for the year is to be bold and audacious. Interestingly, most of them reacted with the response “you already are”. This response took me by surprise each time. None of them asked what I meant or what I hoped to achieve. They just assumed that I have the guts to leap into any goal I set for myself. It’s either I am bolder than I think I am or I have gotten good at faking it. If they only knew that I am constantly riddled with self-doubt and second guessing myself; that sometimes I am crippled with fear and can barely make the next move; that for each move I make, there are many more I did not dare to make. I am still processing how I feel about their unanimous reaction – either they do not truly know who I am or they believe I can do anything.

I rarely see myself as bold or audacious. I do not always have the nerve to tackle a lot of the things I would love to do. So, why do my friends believe or see me as brave? Is it because I tend to dive in, even when I don’t have all the answers or know how it will all play out? Or because I try not to let myself be deterred by obstacles? This is why I do not agree with those who define courage as the absence of fear. I may be seen as courageous but it does not mean I am fearless. I get anxious that it may not work out. I get stressed that my plan will fail. I have doubts that the venture may not be profitable. I worry that I may come up short and disappoint people. When these voices of fear rear their heads, I silence them and muster the courage to go ahead because I believe the price of inaction is greater than making a mistake. I choose to focus on the process not the final outcome. If it fails, I learn from it and move on.

My favorite definition of courage is by Osho, the Indian guru, who says that “courage is a love affair with the unknown”. It is natural to be afraid particularly when you cannot guarantee the final outcome or do not know your ultimate destination. The problem arises when you let fear put you in a state of paralysis to a point where you cannot take a step. The preferred option is to use fear as a guide. Acknowledge the fear and come up with creative options to tackle it. Clearly, you will not have all the answers, but you will be able to move your legs and make a move. This is your first brave decision and an important step in the right direction. You have chosen to act in spite of your fear. That is the true meaning of courage. Remember, fear is not a fact; it is only a feeling.

Life is full of unknowns and there are very few guarantees. On a daily basis, we need courage to face our day. We need courage to make that first call, apply for a new job, become an entrepreneur, take that trip, ask for help, offer assistance, resolve a conflict, pop the question, ask for a raise, submit an application, take that class or just make a decision. Fear of rejection or failure may keep you from embarking on any of these ventures. Do not let that deter you, rather confront your fear head on and proceed regardless of it. Focus on the process of getting there. Once you do that fear becomes paralyzed, not you. Your perception changes and you find yourself embracing the unknown. There might be disappointments along the way. It’s okay. Use them as tools to help you make the next move.

I am determined to stay in the game as I continue my affair with the unknown. The outcome is uncertain and failure is a possibility. However, I am learning my lessons along the way as I embrace the uncertainty of it all.

Resolve today to enter into a relationship with the unknown. Move forward in spite of fear. Slow down enough to face your fears and do not get deterred by obstacles. They are just speed bumps. Acknowledge them. Drive over. Keep moving. Your destination is very important. Something great awaits you there.

Iruka A. Ndubuizu is a “contract guru”, attorney, entrepreneur, consultant and trainer. She is an Assistant Director for Contracts Administration at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and the Founder of Eureka Consulting, LLC (www.eurekaconsultingllc.com). You can reach her at info@eurekaconsultingllc.com; 678.224.1960.




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