In 1988, Helen Thayer walked away from civilization and toward the North Pole, with just her dog, Charlie, for support. She hiked 364 miles in 27 days over snow and ice, and under the constant threat of polar bear attack. She braved minus 50-degree weather, hunger and thirst, loneliness and fatigue. She was the first woman to hike or ski to the magnetic North Pole alone. She was 50 years old.
To hear Thayer talk about it now, nearly 25 years later, the details are still harrowing. Her bravery, unfathomable.
That doesn’t mean that she did not feel fear. Thayer admits she was afraid.
“It’s OK to be afraid,” Thayer says. “It’s how you handle the fear.”
In our daily lives, few of us will ever face such trials, ever put ourselves in such danger. Yet, she did so willingly and overcame her fear to achieve something no woman had ever done before.
Which begs the question: Is fear holding you back? If you could overcome your fear, what could you accomplish?
There’s a saying that I like to remind myself of when I’m faced with an uncomfortable situation. “Courage is being afraid … and doing it anyway.”
Surely Thayer was afraid she’d freeze to death or be mauled by a polar bear. But her goal was so compelling, she pushed on anyway.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we all shuck our daily lives to trek through the arctic. Yet, on a daily basis, we’re all faced with frightening prospects and difficult situations. Whether it’s confronting a tormentor, speaking in public, or quitting a mundane job to take the chance to live the kind of life we’ve always wanted, fear can get in the way. If we let it.
So, I challenge you to look at something you’re afraid of, to think of that one thing that’s holding you back because of fear. And do it anyway. Embrace courage. Court change. And see where your life takes you. To the North Pole, maybe? Or perhaps to just a better, truer version of you?
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.