I wonder if you can relate to this… a challenge is given, your immediate response is fear. Your mind runs through these questions:
- Am I going to get it right?
- What if I'm not good enough?
- Will others judge me?
- What will they think of me?
Any of that sound familiar?
And then one of two things happen:
- You stay stuck in fear and make up excuses to not do it, or
- You jump in the deep end and give it your best shot.
Most people choose option 1 – they wait for the fear to go and make excuses in the meantime. Then they feel worse about themselves, which undermines their self-esteem. And they answer their questions with the worst-case scenario to make sure they stay in their comfort zone. And live to regret it.
Those who choose option 2 realise the longer they think about the challenge instead of doing it, the worse the fear gets, it feels like reality. So they just do it. And they survive. In fact, more than survive, they build evidence that they can. And once they’ve grown, they can't go back to where they were before.
So what do they know that you don’t yet?
Fear is your comfort zone’s best friend
Fear is best buddies with your ego. And they conspire together to protect you by keeping you safe in your comfort zone. But you and I both know it’s the kind of protection you pay a high price for. You see, the problem with fear is that it feels real, even if it isn’t. It’s something we learnt way back in the dark ages to protect us from sabre tooth tigers. It was responsible for our earliest human instinct – to fight, flee or freeze. It worked then, but wouldn’t you agree we have come a long, long way since those days?
Sometimes you just have to just do it!
Last week, along with about 40 other coaches, I was learning how to become an amazingly effective facilitator. Every one of us felt the fear as we were stretched to the opposite of our natural, comfortable delivery style. Every single one. The day of embracing our opposite character saw me stretch from the ‘mother’ to the ‘rock star’. We immersed ourselves into our characters – taking on their beliefs, values, attitude and character.
When I arrived at the venue, I was told it was my turn to facilitate the opening session of the day. Immediate fear! But a rock star wouldn’t let fear phase them, so I took it in my stride. And then I was told what I had to cover in the opening session (eek!) and that we were starting in 2 minutes. Every bit of me wanted to run away. Every question I wrote at the beginning of this article went through my mind. (And let me tell you, the responses weren’t great).
But in that moment I made the decision a rock star would make, and just embraced it.
The chaos that ensued taught me what I was actually capable of. And the feeling of nailing it had a ripple effect that was bigger than I ever imagined. You see, now I know I can back myself in any situation by channelling the certainty that experience provided me.
Think about a time where you have pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. Go back there right now and:
- See what you saw in they way you held your body,
- Feel what it felt like to achieve what you did,
- Hear the sounds as if you were right back there, and
- Remember what you told yourself in the moment
Was it worth it? I’m guessing the answer is yes.
Your time to shine
Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. And the victorious feeling at the other end is something we’d all be rich from if we could bottle it.Tags: leadership leadership coaching leadership development