Saturday, September 23, 2017

Facing Your Fears to Build Confidence

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” ~ John Wayne

It was a busy afternoon on I-40. I was sitting in my car listening to the constant sound of tires running over the hot concrete. The noise lulled me into a zone that I often find myself while driving long distances.

On this particular day, I don't recall what I was thinking about, but I was close to Cary, NC when I decided to clean my back window. For some reason, it appeared extremely dirty and it was difficult to see the cars behind me. With a wave of my hand, I was able to spritz window cleaner on the glass and use the rear wiper to clean it off. While the view improved, I made a mental note that I should replace that wiper soon.

The car behind me must have acquired a decent amount of window cleaner, because I noticed they were wiping their windshield as well. I smiled to myself as I was slightly entertained by the view.

Minutes later, I noticed that the same car was still wiping their windows. "That's funny," I thought. It's not raining outside. Wait! I've seen this before.

Immediately, I pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood of my car. Just as I suspected, a large puff of steam escaped from the engine and I was watching antifreeze once again dripping from a dislodged radiator hose.

Frustrated that I was once again dealing with the same problem as before, I quickly dashed to the rear of my car to grab the necessary tools. Like before, I placed the hose back on the radiator and tightened it even more securely. With 30 minutes remaining in my commute, this had to work.

Not knowing how much fluid I had lost up to this point, I decided that I would get off at the next exit and buy another bottle of coolant. Unfortunately, my engine wouldn't allow me the opportunity to reach a gas station. Instead, I made it just on the exit ramp near the Cary Towne Center before the temperature shot up like a rocket. Not wanting to risk it, I pulled over, turned off the car, and started my trek toward the nearest service station.

After 30 minutes of walking, two gas stations, a gallon of water, and a $23 bottle of generic antifreeze, I was back at my car trying to stay calm and dry. The zipping sound of cars racing by at neck breaking speeds fueled my already colorful imagination. All I could think about was that one driver who would ultimately crash into the back of my car with me slaving away under the hood. Needless to say, I didn't feel safe being that close to traffic.

With the support of a concerned fraternity brother and State Trooper, I eventually attracted a large enough commotion to keep both cars and semi trucks at a safe distance. It was just what I needed to refill my antifreeze reservoir and adjust the clamp on the other side of the radiator nozzle. With a silent prayer, this solution had to be good enough to get all the way home.

Thankfully, my prayer was answered and I made it home without incident, but there was no way I could have driven another 5 miles under these conditions. It was that bad.

While I was glad to have made it home, I knew that I had to fix this radiator and pick up my mother from the airport the very next morning. How would I be able to accomplish all of this with a sick vehicle? Here comes my girlfriend. Without hesitation, she offered me the use of her car which gave me an immediate sense of peace. If nothing else, I could at least deal with the closely pending tasks.

To make a long story short, I was able to pick up my mother from the airport, purchase the necessary supplies to fix my car, and install them the following day. It wasn't a quick fix, but I was able to replace the broken part and get everything back together.

Facing My Fears 

Before this incident, I have never replaced a radiator in a vehicle. Honestly, I didn't know exactly how I was going to do it until I found a YouTube video explaining the high points. 

What scared me most was getting back in the car after everything was resolved. I had so many questions. Would it work? Will it leak again? Did I do everything right? Did I break anything? What if this doesn't work?

While I took my time and addressed each step cautiously, I felt so insecure that the fix would actually hold up. I guess after so many failed attempts to correct the problem and poor experiences on the highway, I wasn't ready to find myself back in the same boat. 

To build my confidence in the solution, I started by running the car in place. When that passed without issue, I drove around the neighborhood. That's when I noticed a small leak. With a few turns on the hose clamp, the leak stopped and I was driving the car even further this time. There were no issues that I could tell. 

Eventually, I had to return my girlfriend's car and stand firmly on my own. As you can imagine, I was nervous. I kept checking under the car for signs of leakage and measured the amount of coolant in the reservoir just to be sure it was still working. 

It was when I had to return my mother back to the airport that I drove past the very location of my last breakdown. I was scared, but I did it anyway. It was then that I was reminded of this simple truth.

The Simple Truth 

It was by facing my fears and allowing myself the opportunity to have numerous successful experiences that my confidence started to build and strengthen. Even now, as I write this, I have a healthy dose of caution for what's possible, but it hasn't stopped me from taking action. In the last post, Making It Through the Storm, I shared a quote that I feel still stands true today. 

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

My encouragement to you is this. Even in the face of fear, be encouraged to step out there and take action. Be it a baby step or a jump in the deep end, let's not allow our fears to stop us from moving forward and making things better. Over time, with enough positive and successful experiences, you will begin to feel more confident and sure in the outcome.

Remember, you ARE an overcomer! Let's make today a very great day.

Bonus Video: Watch Me Replace My Radiator

Next Steps

I hope you found value with this post. If so, please leave a comment in the discussion area below and share it with someone who you think would benefit from it.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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