Cold feet, warm beaches, fear and courage

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Abraham Lincoln

Cold feet. Of course I’ve heard of cold feet.

I know what it means. It’s backing away.

Like when you’re lying on the warm beach and go to get into the water, it’s too cold, and you step back. You want your feet back on the warm beach.

But I’ve learnt something new.

It’s not just a simile. It’s a real, physical thing.

For the first time in my life, I’ve felt it.

Not just a thought: ‘gosh, it’s cold in here, I’ll step back onto the beach’.

A deeply physical urge to retreat.

Right now, I’m in as deep as can be, with two co-founders, launching our new social enterprise.

We’ve talked with lots of people who have been involved in similar online start-ups.

Each conversation reinforces that there’s nothing easy about what we’re doing. That’s okay. I expected that.

But as I talked on the phone recently to someone with years of experience setting up a venture in the charitable giving space, listened to all they’d been through, the reality of the challenges they’d faced, the years of grind, the complexity, the costs, something different happened.

My feet, literally, went cold.

From my kneecaps to my toes, I could feel it to my bones —  along with the constricting tightness in my chest.

So this is cold feet…

And as real as the physical sensation, the fear was real. The urge to turn back was real. The desire to be back on the warm sand was oh so real.

I continued the conversation. I breathed slowly and deeply. My feet stayed cold. Even as we reached the happy ending in her story.

And when the call ended, I asked myself, “now what?” Did I really want to turn back?

So I got out pen and paper … and came back to my why.

Why am I doing all of this?

Didn’t I leave my job to live a kinder life – more simple, joyful, relaxed?

Yes, but for me joy comes as much from contribution and personal growth as from lying on a beach. I reminded myself that I wanted to create something new, to do work that makes a positive difference, to work flexibly, to learn and have new experiences, and to do all of that with great people.

And that’s what I am doing right now.

Yes we’ll have to hard work. And there is uncertainty and challenge. So what?

And yes, there is fear. But Isn’t that just a sign of growth?

And if I ask myself again what I would do If I had all the courage, confidence, time and resources to do anything in the world, what would I do? I would do this.

So the decision isn’t do I stay on the beach or go into the water, but what is it going to take from me as I wade into the cold?

Who do I need to be in all of this?

Great things never come from comfort zones. But we can make the uncomfortable more comfortable by changing how we are being about it.

Who do I need to be to make the uncomfortable comfortable? This is what I came up with:

I work hard

With focus

And rest 

And people I respect

I let go of fear

I have fun

I trust the journey

I appreciate everything


Yes, I can do that.

So, onwards we go to do great things.

All it takes sometimes is a little perspective. And purpose – always purpose.

Yours with courage,




  • We’re currently running a PledgeMe crowd funding campaign for our social enterprise, The Good Registry. I would love your support. It will help us do more good. It will help to ease my fears! You can pledge at and you can help even more if you share with your own social and professional networks too. Please do! (And huge thanks to the 90 people who have pledged so far!)
  • The Good Registry will be launching in the second half of November at It’s a community and a website to transform gift giving – so you can choose to have less stuff and more goodness in your life. You can read more about it on our pledgeme page.

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