I'm afraid of almost everything.
I've been that way most of my life.
When I was young, my foster brothers and sisters were taken from our home without warning.
I made a clear decision... "don't ever lose anyone or anything ever again."
I developed a superpower.
An infinite ability to think of things to be afraid of.
I can tell you 36 ways you can die suddenly...at any moment.
It's impressive. Seriously.
For example, Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) has affected over 200 people without explanation. People just bursting into flames...sitting on a park bench.
See, anything can be scary.
The sun burning out and hyper freezing the earth made me anxious for over a year when I was in high school.
It was practical too.
This job might get me stuck in my career.
This relationship may end in flames.
This person might betray me.
Saying this to that person might end our relationship.
I cloaked my fear with a search for wisdom.
I hid all my fears behind the mask of "wanting to do the wise thing".
Fear is most addictive when it looks like wisdom.
The problem of course, is that is a terrible way to live.
Anxiety steals so much from us.
Bad for your brain.
Bad for your body.
Bad for your life.
Anxiety steals the precious moments with our loved ones.
Beautiful sunsets in the mountains were caked with a fear of avalanches.
Date nights were choked with a fear of being late to the next thing or a dread for the thing I had to do the next day.
Fear made my life smaller.
Courage became my obsession.
My goal to reach for.
I'd say to myself...
I MUST conquer this fear.
I MUST conquer this anxiety about...everything.
I MUST live a courageous life.
I set out to GET courage.
But I was wrong.
Courage is not a thing to acquire.
It's something that happens to you while you are being brave.
Courage is like a star.
If you look at it hard enough, it becomes impossible to see.
Courage, like love, is hard to find when you are searching for it.
Love gets confused for lust or sex.
Courage gets confused for recklessness, foolishness or hubris.
My road to courage was paved with gratitude.
My fear came from that thought I had as a kid, "DON'T LOSE ANYONE or ANYTHING EVER AGAIN". That thought evolved into the socially acceptable form of this idea: scarcity.
I don't want to skydive because I don't want to lose my life or my ability to walk.
I don't want to speak on that stage because I don't want to lose my sense of safety in this room.
I don't want to risk to fall in love because I don't want to get hurt.
I don't want to risk my finances or my relationships because I don't want to lose them.
One moment it struck me.
This is all a gift.
The legs beneath me as I walk and type this on my phone.
My hands that can divide micromovements into words on this smooth screen.
My frontal cortex which makes sense of the sentences I'm eking out to you right now.
My Hippocampus that is deciding that I'm not in danger and it's okay to reflect on "COURAGE".
It's all a gift.
I found that the more grateful I was every morning...the more courageous I became.
I was more grateful...I became less anxious.
Little by little I grew in my courage.
I was less anxious about taking risks.
I became less anxious about meetings and disappointing people and taking on more.
The more I realized that what I have is a gift from God, the less afraid I am to lose it or give it away.
My fear was not conquered by YouTube mashups of Rocky clips or quote graphics on Instagram about how "I CAN DO IT!"
My fear is conquered by my willingness to accept the gifts of this life.
This moment is...all a gift.
The more I'm dialed into that.
The more I began to ask, "What must happen here?"
"How do I survive this moment?" became "what must be done here?"
I've come this far on the generosity of God and other people...
I'm going to be okay.
It's all going to be okay.
I stopped asking, "what could go wrong today" and started asking "what does today need from me?".
This courage led me to finally launch AdoptTogether.org.
To help families afford adoption, we launched a platform that helps them raise funds.
I sat on the idea for a year.
"What if it fails?"
"What if it all goes wrong?"
"What if I get sued?"
None of that mattered.
Moreover, none of that happened.
Today we've helped over 2400 families raise almost 11 Million dollars.
This makes me both grateful...and brave.
The more grateful I became, the more courageous I was.
The more courageous I became, the more my life expanded and gave me more to be grateful for.
That is a cycle I'm happy be caught in.