Fearlessness is Bullshit. It's not a thing. By Leeann Froese
I have had fearlessness on my mind for several months now. A new year seemed a fitting time to let my thoughts out, and as a #winelover, I thought what better day than a Wine Wednesday?
It all started last August in Finger Lakes, New York State, during the Wine Bloggers Conference pre-excursion.
An event held at Ventosa Vineyards showcased women and wine – who gathered to speak and illustrate the varying roles of women in the vines, cellars and labs of this cool climate region. The theme of their event was Bold. Fearless. Original.
We heard from Marti Macinski, from Standing Stone Vineyards, who is arguably one of the pioneering vintners in the Finger Lakes wine region. She spoke of the roles she has played in the past and the ones she now plays as a farmer, hospitality manager and vintner, and how her work to establish a wine industry in an unproven region, combined with being a woman winemaker, required fearlessness.
By contrast in age and experience, Jenna LaVita is the 29-year-old winemaker and vineyard manager of Ventosa Vineyards. She has been earning numerous accolades at an early point in her career, working in a field ever-dominated by men. She shared how she had to behave in a fearless way to show her peers and also herself, that as a young woman winemaker she has the capability…
Liz Leidenfrost, the assistant winemaker and tasting room manager of Leidenfrost Vineyards, spoke of the importance of having a champion. In her case, her father is her cheerleader – he advised her that she could do anything, and she will make mistakes, but that is OK. His backing gave her to confidence to face her fears.
The partner and general manager of Three Brothers Winery & Estates, Erica Paolicelli, is also a young woman, and one of the only females on her winery team. She has to show confidence and bust it on a daily basis to make her way with the boys.
Chef Heather Tompkins is a chef serving Finger Lakes wine country, and co-owner of Opus Espresso and Wine Bar. A pioneer herself, she was one of the first interns to open The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in St. Helena, California.
From these Finger Lakes ladies, they share the traits of passion, being a risk taker, and reinventing rules on their terms. But are they fearless? But I'd prefer to NOT use that word.
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” - Maya Angelou
Towards September, the fearlessness theme continued for me; this time, I turned it inward.
A good girlfriend of mine, Ingrid, wanted to celebrate her birthday by doing the death-defying act of zip lining across a canyon in the Okanagan Valley. She asked me and other friends to join her. The idea of doing this was quite scary and took me out of my comfort zone. When I shared my nervousness, Ingrid said she didn't expect me to be afraid; because I am the most fearless person she knows. She said that it seems like I'm never afraid to do anything.
And even my own team members tell me they see me as somebody who is fearless; Sujinder at one point tweeted something about me being the fearless leader at Town Hall.
I found it so interesting that people saw me this way.
I think a friend of mine could relate. Lynda Steele, a Vancouver broadcaster, made a bold move by leaving a high-profile on camera consumer reporter role at CTV to take on an equally high-profile job with her own show on CKNW news talk 980. Lynda had no formal radio experience to speak of and the thought of making this bold career move after three decades in television was something that she publicly expressed great trepidation and fear about. In the week leading up to her big change, she shared on her Facebook wall that she had a restless night thinking about her move to radio. She said when she finally got up, that seemingly out of nowhere, this image rolled though in her iPhotos:
Lynda said this had to be a message from above. This led to a symphony of comments to follow, with Lynda’s friends cheering her on, stating how they felt she is bold and fearless, and also commenting about worry and fear and how it is healthy and can give you energy.
Lynda’s friends aren’t the only ones who feel that fear can fuel you. Dame Judi Dench has been quoted on this topic.
Within all of these anecdotal examples of strong women an amount of bravery was required, but to me, that is not what fearlessness is.
I actually think the idea of fearlessness is not a thing. It's bullshit. I think people are generally terrified when they get outside their comfort zone, and despite the fear they strive to move forward.
This fear: of failure, vulnerability, of evaluation by others, can be turned inward into an energy, a fire in your belly, that can help push you forward. This could be perceived as fearlessness, but I think it is just fear manifesting itself as strength.
We use the energy generated from fear to give us strength and propel us forward, despite the fact that what we are facing is terrifying, either on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.
In all of these examples of women that I shared, they talked about how they were pushed beyond their comfort zone in order to make some sort of a change; is the bravery required to do this considered to be fearlessness?
I don’t think so. I think fear is real, tangible, gives one physical symptoms, and in some cases can paralyze.
But no matter what we do, even when we are terrified, we need to come to the realization that we need to take risks, do something we are afraid of, so we can stretch and learn and grow.
So as a new year is upon us, and so much has yet to unfold, I recognize that I am terrified every day. Am I doing the right thing as a parent? Is my young business going to be OK? Will my clients be happy? Is my team going to stick with me? How do others see me? All these things creep in as fear and self doubt. There is no way I am fearless.
Despite all this my approach is to feel the fear, and do it anyway. I'll rise to the challenges life hands me, knees shaking, and do the best I can.
And with that in mind, I wish you all a great year, filled with fun, courage and optimism. As I love to say: #gogetit!