Making a Mountain Out of a Mole

by D.J. Vanas © 2007
News From Indian Country

I looked out the window of the airplane, letting my mind wander over the canyons and windswept deserts of the American southwest, “So peaceful, so beautiful” I thought. Then I looked down and there it was – a new mole on my arm. It seemed to have come from nowhere. I didn’t notice it last week. I eyed the dull brown spot with suspicion and started to connect the dots. I just had another birthday so I’m getting older and it grew so fast. I started to worry. Maybe it’s a melanoma, the beginnings of skin cancer.

I started rolling through all my options, the possibilities, letting fear and worry wrap their tentacles around my brain. I needed to call my wife when I landed and then the doctor. For the next fifteen minutes, I was in a minor panic and worried sick. I finally got the courage to reach down to touch the mole – it moved. It wasn’t a pre-cancerous growth, a melanoma or anything even close. It was a piece of chocolate chip from the kid in the seat next to me who’d just finished ravenously devouring his cookie.

How many times has this happened to us, where we’ve let fear cloud our judgment? We get all worked up, worried, stressed and needlessly panic over small things – or things that don’t exist at all! What would happen if you asked for a promotion? Would you get booed out of the office, branded a lunatic and told you were no longer welcome at work or in your home town?! Not likely. Much more likely you would be told yes, maybe, or at worst, no. What would happen if you left your job to find another one?

Would you suddenly be destitute, hungry and homeless, wandering the earth like Cane in Kung Fu? Not likely. Much more likely you’d find another job, probably a better one, because now you have more experience from the last one. What if you left a bad relationship behind you? Went back to school? Said yes to that new leadership opportunity? The truth is, the worst situations in life are not the problems we encounter. They are the problems that we recognize and yet refuse to change because we magnify them to the extreme, giving them a place in our worst worries they don’t merit.

When I was in college at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I wanted to quit a million times and faced my toughest challenges – physically, mentally and spiritually – up to that point in my life. When things got really bad and you were scared stiff, someone undoubtedly would say, “Lighten up. What’s the worst that could happen? After all, they can’t eat you.” It was a mantra that not only got me through there, but many difficult and stressful situations since.

So how do we get over the challenges we create in our own minds? First we acknowledge the fear. It’s perfectly natural to be afraid of change, new things or new chapters in our lives. However, we need to have faith and act in spite of the fear. Keep your perspective and ask, “What’s the worst that could happen here?” Surround yourself with encouraging voices and let one of the loudest be your own.

Make a decision to be less afraid of making mistakes in life and more afraid of being bored, stuck or unhappy and you’ll be setting yourself up for lifetime success. I’ve heard it said that even in pitch dark, we can drive from coast to coast only seeing the fifty yards in front of us illuminated by our headlights. We don’t need to know (and we can't anyway) what the rest of our lives hold for us, just think about those next fifty yards...

And just remember, they can’t eat you.

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Odawa) is a nationally acclaimed motivational storyteller, success coach and the author of the celebrated book, The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement and audio CD series The Warrior Within. D.J. uses traditional warrior concepts and wisdom to inspire people to achieve their best in life, school and career and owns Native Discovery Inc., a company dedicated to “building the warriors of tomorrow…today.” He can be reached at (719) 282-7747 or at .