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Nearly everyone I know is afraid of doing something. If they’re not afraid of anything right now, at one time or another they have been. While the thing that gives you butterflies in your stomach may not be the same thing that makes me weak in the knees, there is always something. For some of us it’s giving a speech. For others it’s exchanging the security of one job for the uncertainness of a new position. Unfortunately, our fears can stop us from moving forward, if we let them.
What about you? What are you afraid of? What fears are keeping you from achieving your dreams? Are you stuck in a job rut because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to find something else? Do you avoid networking events because you’re scared to go by yourself? Are you unable to increase your business because you’re afraid of rejection?
Don’t get discouraged, at one time or another everyone else has been afraid too.
Earlier I talked about my goal of building a bigger network. To be more specific: I wanted to create a network of people with similar values that I could rely on for information, introductions and support to increase my business.
I also mentioned that a colleague gave me the names of a few organizations to start with. I should have been off and running. The problem was that I was afraid. As a writer, I was used to interviewing people, everyone from company presidents to department store buyers to small business owners working the booths at trade shows. But, that was different. It was never about me, it was always about the story.
Now, the spotlight was turned on me. I was a business owner trying to sell my business and myself to strangers. To make things worst many of the women I met were successful businesspeople. I was worried about what I would do, what I would say and most importantly, what they would think of me.
Although, I knew my goal was to meet people, I often went to events a little late and hung out in the corner. If someone talked to me, I was friendly. But, I usually didn’t initiate conversations. And I dreaded every event.
Well, as Susan Jeffers says in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway the only way to conquer your fear is to do whatever it is you’re afraid of. Yes, things like positive self-talk and changing your attitude will increase your self-confidence. Which is a good thing. But, the only way to move past your fear is to take action.
And that’s what I finally did. I asked a few successful women for advice. I looked for events where the speaker’s topic was networking. In the course of one week, two people recommended Susan RoAne’s The Secrets of Savvy Networking. The second time someone mentioned her book I went out and picked up a copy. It looked so intriguing I bought her first book, How To Work A Room, as well. And I started reading. By the time next month’s events rolled around, I felt different. I was still nervous, but I felt ready.
Taking a lesson from RoAne, I spent some time preparing for the next EWN luncheon. That day I read the local newspaper and watched some morning television looking for things I could talk about. I made it a point to arrive, ready to talk about three different topics. I saw someone standing alone and went up and extended my hand. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Jeffers spends a lot of time talking about our inner chatterbox. It’s that insidious voice in your head that tries to make you feel inadequate, assuring you that whatever you do will be wrong. If you’re anything like me, yours roars the loudest at the most inopportune times. Don’t let that voice stop you from moving forward. The more you step outside of your comfort zone, the less you’ll hear from your internal chatterbox.
Now, much to my husband’s surprise I actually look forward to these events. Each one is an adventure. No, I don’t meet someone I have a real connection with every time. But, I have met a few likeminded people along the way. And I’ve enjoyed myself in the process.
What’s holding you back? Lots of us are afraid of rejection. Whether that means making those sales calls or contacting someone who can help you get another job. Well, a couple of months ago, I came across a new way of looking at rejection in The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Now, The One Minute Manager is a great book, even if the only person you’re managing is you. But, my favorite part is in Third Secret: One Minute Reprimands. In this chapter, one of the characters introduces an unusual philosophy: Win or Break Even. All of our lives we learn that when we ask for something we either win or lose. If we get what we want, we win. If we don’t, we lose. But, here the thinking is that we either Win or Break Even. If we get what we want we Win. If we don’t we’re no worse off than before, we Break Even.
Wow, what a concept. Having been raised on the idea of either win or lose, the thought of winning or breaking even was a revelation. Whenever I have to make a tough phone call, I try to remember, if I get what I’m looking for I win, if I don’t I break even. Keeping that thought in my mind often helps.
While the only way to truly overcome what you’re afraid of is to do it, in my experience being prepared certainly helps. Experiment until you find what will help you do whatever it is you’re afraid of doing. And then use it.
There are many good books on the market. My favorites are the ones that entertain while they educate. Ask friends and colleagues for book recommendations until you find one that addresses your concerns.
Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson, MD, can help you cope with change in every area of your life. How To Work A Room can help you become more comfortable meeting new people. Never Let’Em See You Sweat, by Phil Slott, can help you get over any public speaking jitters.
Whatever your difficulty, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway can help you get unstuck. And that’s the first step to getting what you want. But, ultimately, it’s up to you to as they say: Just Do It.