I had a very interesting few days. It was interesting because I spent most working days anxious and breathless. I would say I was in “fight or flight mode” most of the time as though I was in some kind of jungle and in real danger. The reason I was feeling this way was not down to any rational fear of impending doom.
As interesting as the UK is, it is one of the safest, most sanitised countries I know. There is little danger of some wild life snapping at my heels. In Ghana, where I grew up, I lived in constant fear of some reptile finding its way into our home.
This fear wasn’t unfounded by the way – I have a few memories at least two strong ones of reptiles being found in our garden. [Please don’t be put of visiting Ghana by my comments, that was years ago and the industrial development since has turned the cities into human jungles sending all wildlife into the wild – where I think they belong! The beaches in Ghana are amazing.]
Anyway, I was scared this week as I went about my business because I was trying new things every single day. I started this year like everybody else determined to improve on my performance so I was experimenting with new marketing approaches, new ways of delivering my work to a wider audience and reaching out to people outside my usual network.
I still can’t believe just how much fear (irrational fear) you have to battle with just to try a few harmless things in business.
It truly is incredible. The benefits each time have significantly outweighed the discomfort felt but that hasn’t stopped me from approaching the next thing apprehensively.
So this whole experience had me thinking about just how debilitating fear can be. Fear is not always a bad thing though. Rational fear is supposed to protect us but when its irrational, then its a whole new ball game and it starts working against us, holding us back from attaining our true potential in business.
So why did I keep torturing myself by trying new things?
Well, each fear to me represents a barrier that is broken. Once broken, it usually remains so. Leaving me as a freer, courageous and more liberated person, open to embracing new opportunities.
Sometimes I won, but sometimes I didn’t, the fear was too strong but I live to try another day :).
I read Susan Jeffers book, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” sometime back and here are some truths that she outlined about fear:
Susan Jeffers 5 truths about fear:
- The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow
- The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it!
- The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and do it!
- Not only are you afraid when doing new things, everybody else is
- Pushing through the fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear of helplessness.
So whether your fear is
- To do with public speaking
- Starting a business
- Putting yourself out there to increase invisibility in your market
- Using social media
- Fear of failure or success
- Fear of debt (Research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) highlights the fear of debt as the strongest fear and barrier in starting a business or pursuing growth)
- fear of selling
- … the list is endless
What ever you fear, the best way to deal with it is to face it in bite-sized chunks and keep facing it until you overcome it.
Remember the much loved Einstein quote about insanity? “Doing the same things and expecting different results is insanity!”
So really, you have no choice but to keep trying new things particularly if the things you are currently doing aren’t working. There is too much at stake not to at least try!
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