I met the talented Yazmin Joy Vigus at a Making It Big in Business event, where I was a guest speaker. As soon as she told me about her writing I knew I wanted her to write a guest blog for me and here it is, enjoy…
When I was fourteen I joined a local theatre group. I remember the opening night of our production of Twelfth Night, man was I nervous. My palms were all sweaty, my stomach was rumbling, I had already peed three times and I was pretty sure I was going to barf. I was just praying it wouldn’t be on stage or on one of my co-stars faces. I was about to head for the exit, my instinct was to run, run far away! But then my theatre teacher blocked my way and told me something pretty awesome: that whenever I feel nervous I should tell myself that this is excitement, not fear.
How profound. How enlightening. Before I could think about it any further I was suddenly pushed into the bright lights of the stage and to be honest it all went blank from there.
An hour and a half later, judging my the raucous applause of all twenty-five of the audience, I was pleased to discover that I hadn’t barfed and no-one had walked out during the show. Success.
That night wasn’t the first time I had felt fear, nor was it my last.
Let me ask you something: how often has fear held you back?
We all experience fear. The fear of judgement. The fear we are not good enough. The fear people will think we are stupid, or unqualified. The fear we are too old or too young. And my personal favourite: the fear of failure.
‘Fear is at the root of so many barriers that women face.’ Sheryl Sandberg admits in her book Lean In. Isn’t this so true? But how do we use the feeling of fear to our advantage?
Here are my four tips on how to face the f-word head on:
1) If it doesn’t scare, why should you care?
Whoever came up with the phrase: an elastic band doesn’t fulfill it’s purpose until it’s stretched, was on to something.
If something is worth doing it usually arouses fear in you. Just think about it. Whether you are bungee jumping, giving birth, asking for a promotion, public speaking or going on a hot date – where you find advancement, opportunity and a new child, you will also find fear.
So next time you are faced with fear take this as an indication that you must be doing something right!
2) Don’t over think it.
I don’t know about you, but I think too much. I like to mull things over before I take action (this is good – we like preparation!), but often when it comes to crunch time I talk myself out of it. The more I allow time to tick, the more I allow fear to manifest and snowball. Before I know it the chance has come and gone and I’m left twiddling my thumbs.
Lesson: If you are like me, don’t give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of it. Take action. Worry about the consequences later.
3) Change your attitude.
The difference between successful people and non-successful people is their ability to feel the fear and but do it anyway. In other words – have a little courage sister. This is much easier said then done, I know. But my drama teacher was right: there is a fine line between fear and excitement. The only difference between the two is YOUR ATTITUDE. The power is in your hands.
4) Ask Yourself: What’s the worse that could happen?
Seriously. Ask yourself this question.
Will you have to relocate? Look for a new job? Face disappointment from your family and friends? Seth Godin points out in his book Tribes that what most of us are really fearful of is criticism:
‘We choose not to be remarkable because we are worried about criticism… If the only side effect of criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing.’
So it’s worth asking yourself what you are really going to lose from facing your fears. And when it really boils down to it, how much do you have to lose?
‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Franklin D. Roosevelt
The definition of the word ‘fear’ is the anticipation of failure. It’s the reaction to a possible threat or danger. But it’s imperative to remember that this fear has not, or might never, come to pass. Our fears are imagined. They are not reality.
We can not avoid fear, oh no! We don’t always have someone to block the exit and push us onto the stage of life, but we do have the ability to change our own response to fear; to face it and even to embrace it! And if you can do that, the future is all yours.
You can find Yazmin at http://aliljoy.com
Jenny Garrett is the Executive Coach and founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy. She’s also the author of Rocking Your Role, a how-to guide to success for female breadwinners.