I wrote in my last post about how important it is that we as changemakers, as people trying to do business differently, are able to recognise and acknowledge our fears as something that is holding us back, and to take action despite it.
I don’t think there is a magic bullet that will suddenly allow us to stride ahead fearlessly, leaving our fears cowering behind us as we forge on and take action to pursue our passion and our purpose. And actually, if I’m playing devil’s advocate, I don’t think I want there to be one. As I said in my last post, taking action despite our fears, doing the things that scare us, is how we grow, as uncomfortable as they might seem. And the greater the discomfort, the more we are growing.
So here are five tools to try out that can be helpful when you are doubting yourself, procrastinating, feeling the fear:
1. Start with Why
I’m a massive fan of Why.
Getting really clear about why is a brilliant way to motivate ourselves, especially when things start to feel a bit too hard, a bit too scary.
Once we are clear on our why – the benefits to ourselves, to those around us, to society, to the wider world, we can use this to keep ourselves motivated.
It can be all too easy to get caught up in the every day minutiae of running a business, especially when it feels like it’s a business or a project that the world really needs. We forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, why we are doing what we are doing.
We want to do ‘good business’ – business that is good for people and planet, as well as generating an income. If we don’t force ourselves to take these scary steps, to do the things that scare us, then we are depriving the world of our skills and our talents, and we aren’t putting as much good stuff out there are as we could. Reminding ourselves of that can be an extremely powerful motivator!
2. Act ‘as if’
Act as if you are confident, as if you are one of those people who you think are fearless, who you see taking massive action before they’ve even had their breakfast.
These people are scared too, I promise you. But they have just got used to feeling uncomfortable, and to taking action regardless.
So pick someone, someone you admire and look up to. Someone doing great things. They don’t even have to be a real person, it could be a character from your favourite box-set or movie, or even a super-hero.
Put on their clothes (metaphorically) just for a while, adopt their persona. It will feel uncomfortable, that’s ok. But pretend.
Pretend to be confident, and brave and fearless. Pretend you are a brilliant and accomplished public speaker, put on that workshop, write that blog post.
It works the same way if you try and ‘pretend’ to be happy even if you really want to just curl up in a ball on the sofa. Yes, it takes a herculean amount of energy to force your face into that first smile, and to start that first conversation with someone, but once you’re started, your face seems to somehow find it easier to smile, and after 10 minutes or so you might have even forgotten you were feeling miserable.
It’s the same thing. Pretend you can do it and your brain will believe you and start doing some of the hard work for you.
3. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
This is a classic coaching question, and possibly something of a cliche, but like most good cliches, it holds true.
Ask yourself what would do if you knew you were guaranteed to succeed. If you knew that you would get a standing ovation for your perfect presentation, or your workshops would sell out, or your book would get published, what would you do differently then?
The answer probably, is that you would start. You would take that first step and you would do it with joy and excitement in your heart, rather than fear, knowing that what you were doing was going to fly!
4. What are the consequences of doing nothing?
If you do nothing, if you stay stuck where you are, wanting to make things happen, but feeling too scared to take action, what happens?
This is a great question to ask ourselves, and to help us to recognise that there are not only consequences to taking action, there are consequences to not taking action too. If we do nothing, nothing changes.
All those things we want to achieve, the wrongs we want to right, won’t happen if we do nothing.
Yes, there are is the odd person who gets ‘discovered’ while they are quietly beavering away in their comfort zone, not doing the things that scare them, but they are not the norm.
So you have to choose which will ultimately cause you the most discomfort – doing nothing staying safe, where you are? Or moving out of your comfort zone and doing something new, something scary? When the consequences of staying where we are become scarier than the consequences of taking action, that is when we move our of our comfort zones, when we grow, when we make stuff happen.
5. Progress not Perfection
Don’t aim for perfection right off the bat. Yes, you want to put your best stuff out there, but don’t let your perceived imperfections stop you starting. Know that you will grow, you will improve, you will get there, but that you need to start.
Aim for one step better than you have done before. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t aim for their goals. Aim for progress. Take that first step. Make a start.
Finally, remember we are all scared. I genuinely believe that. The fear won’t go away, but we can learn to walk alongside it and take action anyway.
Next time you are feeling scared of doing something new, try out one of these tools. They won’t all work for everyone, so be prepared for some experimentation! They might not work first time, and they might take some practice, but the good news is that more you flex your ‘fear-facing’ muscles, the easier it becomes.
What do you do to face your fears? Do share your favourite tools and techniques below, so we can all add them to our arsenal and get going ‘making good’.