Inspiring Minds browsing by category


It’s Embarrassing To Be Yourself

Friday, March 15th, 2013

I was sent this document and felt moved to share this with you based on how I want to continue to address our fear of showing people our creative selves….something to reflect on.

It’s Embarrassing To Be Yourself

Fear.less contributor and fellow writer Po Bronson blew my mind when he spoke of the “fantasy bubble” in which we encase our dreams. We hide our most sacred ideas and most comforting desires because it’s easier to shelter them on our shoulders as angels. To make them a reality, whether that means opening a blank document or starting a conversation, is to make them vulnerable. In our minds and when we are alone, our thoughts and fantasies are perfect,
whole and insulated. As soon as you take the first step to making them real, they are just a fraction of themselves. It’s disorienting, it’s not quite like you imagined, you’re confused, you don’t want to get caught, you shouldn’t have done it in the first place.

This is true of just about everyone, even if you’re type of person who says “I don’t have guilty pleasures because there’s nothing to feel guilty about” or “I am comfortable with who I am”. I started this by saying it’s embarrassing to be yourself, but it’s not, really. What’s truly embarrassing, and vulnerable, and exposing, is to show yourself. To show your enthusiasm and your sensitivity. If at your work, at your home or on your website, it serves you to be a 90% or 80% version of yourself, it’s easy to keep doing that.

It’s awkward to be the one who shows compassion to someone crying in the hallway, even though it’s probably worse to, you know, be the one crying.

It’s humiliating to divulge that what inspires or validates you is unusual for your age, gender or some other social norm, even if it really helps.

It’s embarrassing to confess that your fears and insecurities just keep coming back, even though it seems that way for most other people, too.

It’s shameful to admit that you haven’t taken any impressive steps toward what you really want, even though no one can support you if they don’t know, and even though it might not even be true.

This doesn’t always happen, and that’s actually what’s so bad about it. When we win a few easy victories, we can trick ourselves into thinking “Woohoo, authentic living! All eight cylinders ablaze!” Not to take anything away from small victories, which should be celebrated. But getting comfortable with less than we can achieve is less than we deserve. There is great satisfaction, fulfillment and power awaiting us on the other side of honest self-expression and deliberate vulnerability and that can be hard to keep in mind. What is your current level of sincerity doing for you? What would happen if you dialed it up?

Also, “authenticity” is a dodgy word that messes people up. I’m not trying to accuse anyone of being “phony” when I don’t even know you personally. But I do want to see what happens when people, including myself, don’t dial themselves back as much and surround themselves in support. Like Po Bronson says, “You need to be around people who think it’s okay.”

I’m glad we could talk about this. Well, I’m off to play some video games marketed toward children. It’s where I get my best ideas.

Matt Atkinson
Executive Editor of Fear.less

Your Big Beautiful Book Plan

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Got a book or know someone with a book to publish…well here’s the way to make it happen with the help of two inspiring women Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth and Linda Sivertsen of Book Mama.

Check it out: Your Big Beautiful Book Plan

A dream comes true

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I’d like to share with you a story that my good friend Sophie shared with me.

Sophie and JP

by Sophie Raymond and Jean-Pierre Fontaine

I started dreaming of going to Africa about ten years ago. I was at Université de Sherbrooke when I met Olivier a student from East Africa. Olivier was always very passionate when he talked about his country, Burundi. His passion was contageous, and for a group of friends it became a dream. A dream to explore East Africa.

January 2010 , the dream starts to become reality. Olivier wants to go back to East Africa to visit his family. He also offers to us, a group of his friends, to be our guide in the exploration of his land!

The six of us agreed on the highlights of the adventure: a week of Safari in Kenya and an expedition to the highest mountain in Africa: the mighty Kilimanjaro (5890 m) located in Tanzania.

Then one morning in August 2010, we landed in Nairobi, Kenya, and we headed directly for the Savana. We spent our first night in tents on the edge of Massai Mara National Reserve the theatre of the “Great Migration” where we shared our campsite with a group of amusing monkeys. The following 6 days are a succession of amazing close encounters (from inside our jeep…).

We saw zebras, gazelles, antelopes, gnus, topis, giraffes, African buffalos, rhinoceros, lions, leopards, elephants, hippopotami (the deadliest of African animals)¬, crocodiles, cheetahs, vultures, ostriches, to name the most common ones.

If the lion is the “King” of Savana, then a giraffe’s grace, calm and self-assurance certainly give her the aura of a “Queen”.

Seeing these wild animals in their natural environment with the silence of the Savana and the colors of the sunrises and sunsets was absolutely…divine. But now we have a very long day of driving ahead of us. The route from Kenya’s National Reserve to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro that was supposed to take 10 hours took us a stressful 16 hours. We found a new definition for extreme sport: East-African roads driven by East-African people! The only rest we could have was a two-hour forced stop at the border where we found a new definition for chaos…thanks to our minibus driver who “forgot” his papers in Nairobi.

Around midnight we finally arrive at our destination: the town of Moshi who serves as a base for expeditions up nearby Mt. Kilimanjaro. We have to pack and get ready for the expedition within 8 hours…the night was short.

What does it take for 6 people to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
1 guide
2 assistant-guides
1 cook and his helper
2 waiters,
plus 16 porters!!!

Yes, a total of 23 devoted people, normally experienced locals. Each porter carries his backpack plus about 15-20 kilos of our food, water, and camping gear. Carrying all this weight would make the expedition virtually impossible for most people.

As we get closer to the summit, the scarcity of oxygen makes each step more and more difficult (we absorb roughly 50% less oxygen at the top compared to sea level). We were advised to follow the Lemosho route which allows for eight days to make the ascension (from an altitude of 2250 meters to 5890 meters), a reasonable period for acclimatization to the altitude.

A typical day consists of an early rise and breakfast at 7h30, followed by the daily briefing. We start hiking around 8h30 for the next 7 to 9 hours. We pause for about an hour at lunchtime and we have diner at around 19h. After diner we literally fall asleep around 20h.

Ascending the Kilimanjaro was a real challenge for me. Days of strenuous hiking and climbing, dealing with the altitude sickness and changing weather conditions (like going from freezing point to +30 degrees Celcius in the same day), sleeping in a tent on a rocky floor, washing yourself with a small bowl of water plus coping with cold winds and volcanic dust. It also meant having access to the purity of African sunrises and sunsets and the immensity and silence of a mythical volcano. But on top of everything, this expedition was about friendship, love, complicity, respect of each other’s rhythm, and respect of all the expedition members caring for us.

I will carry the memories of this expedition in my heart for all my life.