A few weeks ago I asked readers of “That Work” – SLG to tell us about the fears that they’ve faced and overcome as bloggers.
The response was fantastic with some honest sharing – thanks to those who commented – your comments not only helped me prepare for a talk I was giving on the topic at our event but also helped me to overcome a fear I was facing on that very day.
My Paralysing Fear
The day I published that post I did very little else because I almost let fear grind my activity to a halt.
We were just over 3 weeks out from our “That Work” – SLG Training Event and I was letting fear get the better of me. While I normally am able to use Fear as a motivating factor (I wrote about that here) on this particular day I was feeling quite overwhelmed.
With the event 3 weeks away I was fearful of a number of things (some were rational and some were not) including:
- that our international speakers might all be unable to fly in due to some unforeseen disaster that grounded flights out of the US
- that last minute negotiations with sponsors might fall through leaving us financially in trouble
- that a weather event would cause us to cancel our outside evening event
- that I wouldn’t have anything useful to say in my keynotes
- that we’d have some disaster with the venue or food or the staging or…. (this list went on quite long)
I actually had a much longer list than that – but I’m sure you get the picture!
I’ve felt all of these fears before in the lead up to other events – but on this particular day they all got a little too much for me and I paced around my office imagining the worst and letting my fears distract me from doing much at all.
3 Questions to Get You Moving When Fearful
Thankfully I didn’t let fear overwhelm me completely – not for too long anyway. After a day of it I decided I needed to find a way to get myself moving again.
To do so I asked myself 3 questions (questions that I actually spoke about in my opening keynote for PBEVENT):
- What is the worst thing that could happen to me?
- How would I recover if that happened?
- What is the best thing that could happen to me?
Note: these are not ‘my’ questions. I’ve heard many people speak about them (or variations of them) over the years.
By tackling each of these questions I think you put fear into perspective but also put yourself in a better position to face that fear in a better way.
What is the worst thing that could happen to me?
Question 1 is all about getting perspective. Sometimes simply by asking it you realise that the worst thing that could happen isn’t that bad at all.
How would I recover if that happened?
However sometimes the worst thing is pretty bad. This is where Question 2 is essential. It allows you to make a decision to either avoid the situation (sometimes fear is a signal that you’re about to do something stupid and you shouldn’t do it) or to come up with a contingency plan.
So in the case of our event by asking ‘how would I recover’ I suddenly realised that we needed to come up with some contingency plans. For example we decided to come up with some plans for if our international speakers were late or unable to get there. As a result we were better prepared and the fear melted away.
What is the best thing that could happen to me?
The Question 3 is all about focusing not only on the worst case scenario but also motivating yourself with the best case. The reality is that the worst case scenarios in my head on that day did not happen. While we had a few hiccups during the event the some amazing things did happen as a result of the event.
Even Wobbly Courage is Still Courage
I was going to title this post ‘how to smash fear’ or ‘how to eliminate fear’ but the reality is that I don’t think I’ve ever completely eliminated fear.
While I did get myself moving again in the example above I still felt a little fearful about the event and I’m not so sure that that is a bad thing.
Fear is a signal that something important is going to happen. It is a signal to pay attention and it can actually give you the shot of adrenaline you need to face that important situation.
The reality is that when we face important life changing things that we will almost always feel a little… or a lot… wobbly. But as a friend once said to my wife… ‘even wobbly courage is still courage’n (thanks Jessica for sharing that – it’s helped a lot of people).
Courage is courage – even if you only have a little bit of it.