What’s the worst that can happen?   How to let go and take the leap to success.

Fear can be debilitating.  It stops us in our tracks.  It might be specific.  A fear of what other people might think.   Fear we will look stupid.   That other people will look down on us.   Or just a general fear of the unknown. Whatever it is, fear gets in our way.  It eats away at us.

It was fear of what people would think of me that stopped me telling the truth about my violent ex.  I covered it up and went back to him after he almost killed me.  I was afraid too, of what would happen if I left.  So, I lived the lie we were a happy family.  I wanted so bad for it to be true.

For some reason, in my mind, the fear of leaving him far outweighed the risk of losing my life to him.   Sounds crazy to me now.   I’m so thankful I came to my senses after a while.

When I found the courage to leave, I realised that living a life guided by fear is not living at all.   And boy I get that now, with the life I have in the absence of it.   What a difference that makes.

I decided to live by the Mantra: what’s the worst that can happen?  I had nothing to lose.  After all, my life couldn’t get much worse than it already was.   When I tried to manage my life and control everything around me, it only led to disaster.   It was exhausting anyway.  I couldn’t take much more of it.

I wondered: ‘what’s the worst that could happen if I just let go?’.  I’m alive.  Safe.  Healthy.  And what other choice did I have?  So, I let go of the fear of it.  The fear of where life might take me.  Instead, I thought of embracing the unknown as an exciting new opportunity.   A new door that might open, one I couldn’t see just yet.  And that’s exactly what happened.

Leaning into fear re your career:

I’ve spoken in earlier posts about leaning in to fear and embracing it.  When you are out of your comfort zone that is where the greatest opportunities lie.  In terms of my career, that is exactly what I had to do, as I spent much of it with Imposter Syndrome.  Convinced someone would work out I was a fraud who didn’t know what I was doing.   But by telling myself: ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ I leant into that fear, embraced it and have been successful for it.

For example, I’d never been a foreign correspondent before when I first moved to HK.  Although it was my dream, fostered by seeing the work of Australian cameraman Neil Davis.  One of the bravest correspondent’s I’d seen.

Somehow I convinced Seven Network Australia to let me do this.   Next minute I was landing in places like Cambodia or India.   With a deadline to send my report back that same afternoon.   A satellite feedpoint?  What’s that?  Pool footage? What do you mean?  Man, I was green then and terrified I’d be found out.   I had no idea what I was doing.  It scared the crap out of me a little, but it was exciting too.  Being out of my comfort zone was leading to a whole new and stimulating career.

I knew almost no-one when I went to the UK, with the dream of making longer form films.   England and the BBC was the  television ‘Mecca’ for documentaries to me.   Six months and many hideous night shifts at SKY News followed.  Then I was lucky enough to blag my way into a job in a respected television production company.   Again, I winged it.  A Commissioning Editor?  Who’s that?  A documentary treatment?  Where do you start?   I spent most of the time in fear of people outed as the Imposter I was.

But I was confident in my ability to know a good story and thought ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’.  And when I spotted one and made a film about it, it became a ratings success.  It no longer matter that no-one knew who I was.  The results were what counted, doors opened and success followed.

I know I go on about self-esteem and self-worth, particularly when it comes to relationships.    But they are crucial in all aspects of your life.    They are the ingredients needed to give you self-confidence.   That self-confidence is what allows you to lean in to fear.

When I was much younger I feared confrontation (those who know me now can stop laughing!).  Conflict frightened me.   There were times I was bullied or suffered misogyny.  (What young woman going up the career ladder hasn’t experienced that?)   But the thought of standing up to that person, particularly if an older male, made my heart race.   More often than not, I’d let something lapse and then stew over it, my stomach churning all night.

But once I developed self-esteem and found my self-worth, I had the confidence to confront those who crossed boundaries.   I was terrified the first time I did so with a colleague who became verbally abusive towards me.  I had to say to myself: ‘what’s the worst that can happen? He’s not going to hit me!’   Then I took a deep breath and told him his behaviour was unacceptable.  I was happy to discuss things but only on a rational level.

I’ve learnt that confrontation doesn’t mean aggression.  If you you are confident and stick to facts.   If you remain calm when you state your ground.  Bullies are cowards.   There’s nothing to fear.   (But make sure you take all emotion out of the discussion.  And don’t let them steer you that way).

Fear in relationships:

My relationship with my ex was based on fear.   Both of us were low in self-esteem.  We both feared abandonment, so sought to be the one in control.   It became a dysfunctional power-struggle, one that descended into a destructive vortex.    Fear is not the basis for a healthy relationship.

I came to understand that the roots of my fear were my low self-esteem and only once I built that up was I ready for a more functional relationship.    That came in the form of the man I am married to now.    But it still took me years to purge myself of fear.

When I first met him the relationship scared me.  I’d not long come out of an abusive relationship.  So, I wasn’t sure I could trust my gut instincts.  ‘What if he is abusive too?’

My fear of it led to me to push him away.  To end it I guess, before my imagined fears came true and he abandoned me.   Through fear I might have destroyed something good, even when there was no reason for it.   

One day he said to me: ‘you know I’m not going anywhere!’ and I realised that my fears were baseless.  Here was man emotionally available to me.  I could let go.  I could trust him.  I could be vulnerable with him and he wouldn’t hurt me for it.

I had to let it go.  To enjoy being in the moment and his company day to day.  ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ I thought.  If it’s meant to be it will be.   But if it’s not, well I’ll be back on my own.   But is that so bad?   With a strong sense of self-worth by now, I knew I’d be okay.  I would be with or without a man.   It was no longer dependent on one.

I’ve been with Mr V for decades now and we continue to live by my mantra, forever embracing the new.   We left Australia 24 years ago now and have lived all over the world since.  When we took the first leap and our children to Hong Kong, we thought: ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’.   That was easy.  If it didn’t work out, we could always go home!   We’ve been on adventures ever since and will most likely continue to do so, as long as we are fit and able.   Life is beautiful with him.

So go for it.  Follow your dreams.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Lean into fear and embrace it.  Just ask yourself: ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ I promise you the answer is never that bad!

If you like my mantra I have plenty more: click on the video below to find out more.  

What leap of faith do you want to take?  What mantra do you live by?  I’d love to hear more in the comments below.

Are your relationships – past or present – good enough for you?  Do you deserve better?  Try my FREE QUIZ to find out!

Written by Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Executive Producer who makes documentaries for major US, UK and Australian broadcasters.  She is also a survivor of domestic violence.  Her book ‘Unbeatable (How I Left a Violent Man)’ – her story of surviving abuse to finding success in love and life – will be published soon.  She hopes this blog will help others to become strong, fearless and successful too.  Find out more about Vivian Here.

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