Would Fear Prevent Me from Achieving My Outcome?

By Susan Ford Collins

Several years ago, I bought gas at a neighborhood station and headed home. The light was green when I entered the intersection but immediately turned yellow then red. Cars in front of me stopped short. Cars on either side came at me like raging bulls. My only safe choice was to turn left, even though I had been going straight through that no-left-turn intersection for years.

The moment I turned, a siren forced me over. A red-faced policeman demanded my license as though I had just killed several people. “That really scared me! Give me a second,” I said.  But he headed off in a huff to write not just one ticket but two: illegal left turn and failure to stop on red. When he handed me those tickets I tried again to explain what happened, but he barked, “If you want to contest these tickets, I’ll see you in court.”

When the citations arrived in the mail weeks later, I started rehearsing what I would say to the judge. The traffic flow failed me. I’d been forced to turn left. At a town council meeting weeks later, I learned that the Department of Transportation was planning to reroute traffic in that intersection because so many cars were getting trapped. I felt more certain than ever that I would have both tickets dismissed.

On the appointed day, I headed to court. But the court I walked into wasn’t the one I expected. It was a pretrial hearing: “If you plead no-contest and don’t ask for a trial, we’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse.” When I told the hearing officer “my truth,” she confirmed that the intersection was a problem, reduced the fine to a bare minimum and took away the points. In that moment, her proposed deal felt good and I heard myself say, “OK, fine. I just wanted to be heard.”

But just being heard wasn’t really what I wanted because, when I read the receipt and saw the word "guilty” printed there in black and white, I felt sick at my stomach. I had failed to get the tickets dismissed. Why? Was it because I was scared and simply wanted the whole thing over? Was it because it would be my word against the word of that red-faced, overpowering policeman in court? Was I afraid the result might be something far worse?

Then, as if to highlight my lack of persistence, as I stood staring at the word “guilty”, the bailiff came over and said, “Mam. I wouldn’t have settled my case if I were you. You would have had both tickets dismissed if you had asked for a trial.”

I couldn’t sleep, smacked in the face by how powerful fears really are. How they drown out our dreams. Whether we’re confronting a policeman or judge, the child in us goes for safety and compliance instead of our desired outcome… unless we’ve developed the 7th Success Skill which gives us the ability to hold onto our outcome and keep taking all the steps needed to get there. The next day I called the courthouse and asked for a trial date.

In the courtroom on the day of the trial, I saw that overpowering policeman sitting up front on the witness stand and my scared feelings returned. But this time, I was consciously committed to having the charges dismissed. When my case was called and the judge asked that policeman when and where the tickets had been issued, I heard him provide the wrong date. I told the judge the correct date as well as what I’d learned about traffic problems in that intersection, and joyfully heard the judge pronounce, “Not guilty. Case dismissed.”

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on how to stay on course to your desired outcomes, read Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want.

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Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins



Commit to Outcome and Stay Open to Possibilites

By Susan Ford Collins


Over the years I’ve asked highly successful inventors how they made their discoveries, and the answers they gave me were frequently the same: the chemical spilled; the formula overheated; the wrong ingredients were mixed and—BAM—they invented it. (Latin inventus, “to come upon.”) With their outcome clearly in mind, opportunities came “out of the blue.” And they were able to spot them and use them.

Here's an example. In 1993, David Levy along with Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker spent months in the Palomar Observatory preparing to photograph a comet that had been drawn into Jupiter’s gravitational field and fractured into 21 pieces that would strike its surface like a string of bullets. Everything was ready until they discovered someone had opened the film box by mistake and exposed the film. Doubt set in. It was overcast so seeing the comet at all was highly unlikely but, committed to their outcome, they decided “to go for it.” So they pulled out film exposed along the edges and started shooting, hoping it would be usable in the middle.

When Carolyn inspected the film later, there was the comet in the middle of the first shot! This almost-missed photograph heralded a major astronomical event… the first collision of two solar system bodies ever observed. Because of their persistence and their profound pictures, the comet was named Shoemaker-Levy 9.

There were other challenges connected with photographing this event. The Galileo probe was in the right place at the right time, not because of careful planning and scientific precision, but because its launch had been delayed; its antennae which had been stored too long, failed to open; and Galileo needed to be reprogrammed in flight. Where was the comet when Galileo was finally ready? Straight ahead and perfectly positioned to record the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet crashing into Jupiter, sending up a six-mile high plume and creating a bruise the size of Earth on its surface.

Things went wrong. It looked impossible. They almost lost hope. But with everyone focused on getting those pictures, the process unfolded in divine time and order. Call it intention or prayer… either way the ability to hold an outcome and seize out-of-the-blue opportunities is one of the astounding powers we have been given. And the 7th Success Skill is the one we need to take advantage of this power.

When did obstacles and interferences become reasons to give up your outcome? When did discomfort and disagreement change your mind and course? What other outcome did you end up with... one you wanted, or one that didn't really matter to you? That left you disappointed? And when did you hold an outcome—a mission, commitment, goal or dream—all the way to completion? When did you feel the satisfaction and the power of the 7th Success Skill? Would you like to do it more often?

© 2015 Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.