Day 5 of the 21 Daring Days challenge, and this is tough: ‘Write about a time you screwed something up because you weren’t bold enough to risk getting hurt’.

This one stopped me in my tracks, because I have become increasingly aware that there has been a clear divide in my life between those areas where I’ll be bold, take risks, and push myself to the limit and those where I hold back.

You can run with ‘getting hurt’ in so many directions — literally so, indeed: I’m not long back from an actual run where I was in some discomfort from one of several minor injuries I’d picked up paddleboarding in the choppy Atlantic a week earlier.

No evidence there of my screwing up because I wasn’t bold enough to risk getting hurt — the reverse, in fact: I did get hurt but just carried on anyway. And that’s not unusual — put me outdoors, in my happiest of happy places, and you’ll see me edge towards the reckless in no time at all as I test my boundaries yet again.

But away from the physical, back in the workplace where the risk of getting hurt brushes up against fear of failure, and it’s another story. Here’s where the whole ‘not good enough’ saboteur can all too easily take control — I explored some of this in an earlier post when I gave myself permission to just be me.

Over the years, I’ve allowed ‘not good enough’ much free rein in my professional life, and as a result have self-sabotaged on multiple occasions. It certainly wasn’t conscious, but whenever I could see a promotion looming or a challenging project or an opportunity for more responsibility — and, crucially, more money — I would do something to ensure it didn’t happen.

It took a long, long time to recognise the pattern, and when I did I was shocked by just how many opportunities I’d let slip away. Who knows what might have happened if I’d been bold enough to follow through on just one of them?

The irony, of course, is that by not being bold, not risking getting hurt, I allowed myself to then fail — and sometimes get hurt — far too often.

And while I have indeed now given myself permission to just be me in all that I do, I know I must stay on constant guard. We are all of us the sum of our experiences and our patterns of behaviour, and the ‘not good enough’ story will still play out if I allow my self-awareness to slip and boldness to give way to fear.

I could no doubt locate the saboteur’s source if I delved deep and long enough, but to be honest I’m just so grateful there’s never been a brake on my boldness when I’m swimming in 5C water, or out on my paddleboard in the dark, or running free through mud in the wind and rain.

The rest is a work in progress.


Photo of me paddleboarding in Fuerteventura, January 2018