Since you're reading this, I'm guessing you’re an achiever. And as an achiever, you often have to do things that are scary. That is, scary psychologically rather than physically fear-inducing.
The realm of psychological fear is a large space, which will look different for different people.
For some it might be getting up in front of a big group and making a presentation or standing in front of the boardroom and doing a talk. It could be going to a big client pitch.
For me, I had a recent scary moment of my own leading up to a big keynote I was delivering.
Letting Fear Take Over
What I used to do when I was in these situations was two things. The first is I would be unable to focus on anything else for the entire day before, sometimes a couple of days before, and on occasion even the entire week leading up to the event!
The second thing I would do is to fill this time with preparations. I would drive my poor team to look at every possible contingency out of my own fear. Almost every single time the “scary event” would turn out fine. I would look back and wonder why I let all that fear take over.
A Better Way to Face Fear
As someone who was facing these types of situations frequently during my career, I thought that there's got to be a better way to face fear.
That's why I've come up with these three ways we can better handle those scary situations.
1. Remind yourself why you’re in these scary situations
The first thing is to remind yourself that it’s actually a privilege to be in these scary situations. You’ve earned your way into this situation because you’re doing something really important. You’re finding ways to play bigger and make a bigger impact.
2. Embrace those feelings
The second thing is to learn to embrace those scary feelings. Embrace that delicious anticipation. Enjoy every single moment, whether it's that scary feeling or that anticipatory feeling. Engage with and feel every single one of those emotions in the lead up to the big event.
3. Create a sense of opportunity and excitement
The third thing is to create a sense of opportunity and excitement around the event, not only for you but for your team as well. Your team can be so much more innovative and creative if you’re all preparing for an event with a sense of opportunity and excitement, rather than fear.
You don't want to play tight, worrying about what’s missing and what might go wrong. You want to play free.
I encourage you to keep doing things that scare you. Maybe a little bit. Maybe a lot bit, but keep on pushing those frontiers because that is how you're going to learn, grow, and develop.
How I Faced a Recent Scary Situation
I recently had a fearful situation where I was giving a big keynote speech. I was starting to feel all those feelings of nervousness and anxiety, and that’s when I remembered the three steps, which really saved me. Here’s how I applied them in that moment.
First, I stepped back for a moment to remember and recognize that I am stepping out and playing big, and I'm doing something important. I'm getting to help hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Second, I chose to embrace all of those feelings leading up to the event.
Then third, I created a sense of opportunity and excitement for myself and among my team as we prepared for the event. I changed the way I was framing the situation in my mind and in my communication.
How about you? What's a scary situation for you and how will you handle your next one?
I'd love to hear about it and how these steps help you. Leave a comment and let me know.