Often you hear speakers say, ‘Do the thing that scares you.”

This of course can be misinterpreted to mean, “Do something that might permanently damage you, for the sake of the thrill.” Not great advice.

To someone who has been made numb, by life, television, drugs or alcohol, feeling anything is an improvement. To feel fear, even, seems to have some value.

The dumbest things I ever did I did so as to feel something, anything, to pop myself out of a semi-conscious state. Looking back at these, I am both embarrassed and perplexed. What was I thinking? Truth is, I wasn’t. I was just trying to feel.

For example, one time in college I jumped from backstage thru the false window onto the set of a play I was in, destroying the scene (not to mention the window) simply because I had the fear of failing a “challenge” by myself to do so.

I was also justifying the fact that I had some beef with the director of the show, and this would serve as some kind of “payback”. Nice reasoning.

Was it scary? Totally. Was it productive? Quite the opposite. Is it embarrassing to relate? I’m just glad it was long before the age of YouTube.

The real value in “doing the thing that scares you” is in inspiring a rational person to set aside their habits when the environment demands growth and change. I don’t have to tell you, the times we are currently in demand growth and change, and the losers will be those otherwise rational people who fail to summon the courage to do something different, even if it is scary.

It’s scary to proceed with a new technology, or to take one’s company in a new direction along a new path not already trampled by generations of travelers. It’s scary to expose yourself or your brand on new platforms and apps to a potential audience of billions.

But that kind of scary is the kind which, when transcended, can produce the most dramatic positive change.

But should one just take off into the uncharted brush, wily-nilly, and expect boldness alone to make it all work out? That makes you feel scary, right? Sure, but that’s the unproductive kind of scary, the kind that probably has been extremely useful in navigating your life and career. Maybe don’t throw that away.

One has to always use reason to determine the direction things are going, and get some bright ideas as to how to take advantage of changing times. Where the courage enters in is in following one’s bright idea to the end and actually making the attempt, not just having the adventure solely in one’s mind without putting it into the real universe.

Take baby steps, sure. But take the steps. Babies get scared too. They don’t stop; eventually they walk the walk. You can, too.