Fearlessness doesn’t mean you don't have fears but it does mean you don’t let your fears get the better of you. Unattached, in this instance, refers to being able to separate yourself from one particular desired outcome.
“Because the truth is, if you are attached to a certain outcome, you’re making yourself more vulnerable to fear. That attachment makes it less likely for you to take a risk or explore new ideas.”
Attachment to an outcome is something that I have a problem with.
It covers all aspects of my life. I’m getting better at letting the process guide me (rather than the desired outcome) with design work but I still struggle with focusing on the outcome in my personal life.
Sadly it's over mundane things like how I expect the washing cycle in our house to go.
(washing in the machine after Kinda/daycare but before tea)
+ (dry washing brought in, folded and put away before dinner)
= (No washing to do after dinner).
This daily outcome that I’m addicted to means I come home from work and start doing the washing rather than hanging out with the kids for a while. I’m so adamant that I can’t fold a single sock after dinner that I let it get in the way of enjoying time with my family.
My Therapist keeps asking me what do I think the kids will remember when they reflect back on this time now. Will it be that they have clean washing, folded nicely in their draws or that mum hung out with them when she came home from work.
Obviously I want the memories to be about me but letting go of that routine is harder than I thought. Especially considering the washing still has to get done! Ironically I believe it's being a mum that has really turned these simple everyday chores into militant routines that must get done, on time or the day is ruined!
That's probably enough about my washing but it goes to show how easily one can get attached to an outcome. There are more interesting reasons to be fearless and unattached:
“When you’re fearless and unattached, it’s easier for you to be optimistic. Rather than see one singular path to success and happiness, you see many. You recognize that even if things don’t turn out exactly the way you wanted them to, you can still find meaning, and even joy, in a different result.”
I’ve just started reading “How I Built This” by Guy Raz which is a great book about entrepreneurs. He interviews lots of business owners that were trying to create something that ultimately failed but led them to another outcome. Slack is a good example, that rose from the ashes of a failed multiplayer online game.
Being fearless and unattached leads to action. I’ve written about this many, many times but the fear of failure is what stops most people from ever starting. When you're not attached to a certain outcome you don’t tend to overthink, second guess or doubt yourself. It gives you permission to keep moving forward.
How does one become fearless and unattached you ask? Here are four tips:
Set goals you can control! This is something I’ve learnt the hard way! This blog is a great example. I can’t control how many people read this blog or how they will react. If my goal was to impress and wow the design community, I would be sorely disappointed! But if my goal is to just write one blog a week then I can confidently say yes! I have met that goal!
Embrace failure. The most important and powerful lessons have come from great failures! Failure must be seen as an opportunity to learn or why even bother getting out of bed in the morning! I read a great story a while ago about a family that asked “what did you fail at today/ what could you have done better?’ every night around the dinner table. What a strange but great way of removing the stigma around failure!
Third tip, Don’t make it about you! This arches back to last week's blog - you aren’t what you create. Believing that the outcome says something about us is dangerous! If you succeed you will be wonderful and amazing. If you fail, you're a loser! Remove your self worth from the outcome.
Finally take (imperfect) action. This is a feedback loop. The more times you are fearless and unattached, the more times you realise you can do it, so you do it some more… this confidence will build and create momentum. I’ve always felt that we make lots of major decisions around the same time - let's start a business, let’s draw out all our Super, let's build a house… These in isolation are major life events but stack them next to each other and they are pretty easy decisions to be made.
I recommend reading this article in full - I’ll leave you with this paragraph that I found particularly powerful:
“What you do is not who you are. No matter what you do or don’t accomplish, you are worthy and capable of feeling happiness. If you can learn to believe this, you can start to live a more fearless, unattached life.”