As those of you who follow me on Facebook or Google Plus know, this week I went to New York to perform a reading of the one-man musical I have been co-writing. Being the main character, this meant my singing and acting was to be the center of attention for about an hour. By the way, I’ve only once sung a solo as part of a performance, and it was part of a cabaret theater class, where I was just one of many. As the date approached, I found myself getting increasingly scared and excited.

Scared all by itself is rarely a sign that you should run into a situation with open arms. We fear things when they are unknown and we believe there’s a chance we will get hurt physically, emotionally, or socially if we move forward. We might be wrong, but we might also be right. Listening to your fear is a Good Thing.

Excitement by itself just means we want to do something. We think it will nurture us or be fun or do something good for us. It is easy to fall into a habit of doing the same things over and over, just for the excitement. As the ladies who lunch might put it, “Sky-diving _again_? Really, Bernice, you’re getting so predictable.”

The combination of fear and excitement is a golden opportunity. The excitement tells you there’s something compelling. The fear tells you you’re moving outside your comfort zone. You’re growing and stretching yourself.

When you find this combination, take note! Use the fear to find possible pitfalls and start taking action to minimize them. If you’re afraid you can’t sing, that’s a sign that a few voice lessons may be in order.

And this is where the excitement comes in. It’s easy to say “too much trouble” or “I’m tone deaf. It’s genetic.” Tap into your excitement to take the voice lessons anyway. And keep with it until you start going for the thing that inspires you with such fear-citement.

The day before my reading, I came down with a nasty stomach flu that would have been a perfect excuse to give in to my fear and back down. After all, my friends in the audience would surely understand.

But even as I was contemplating it, I knew it wouldn’t happen. Because my excitement was saying “once you’ve done this, you’ll have performed in a show that you friggin’ co-wrote! How fabulous is that?!?!”

The show went on. And I sang. And for the most part, I sang well (apparently the couple of grimace-worthy moments went largely unnoticed except for *my* grimaces!). And it didn’t hurt! In fact, it felt good.

And now that I’ve taken that step, I can take another. Next reading, I want to step up and give a grimace-free performance. I want to nail all the harmonies, bring the character to life, and … Well, take over the world with my zombie army. Because otherwise, how will I get all the Oreo ice cream cake?

What’s your one-man show? What’s the thing you’ve been excited about, but perhaps not quite excited enough I overcome your fear? Consider this a nudge. Take the first step. Listen to the fear, address its concerns as best you can, and take the first step. Excitement plus fear–it’s your key to getting the most out of life.

Fear + Excitement: A Powerful Combination

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