Fear keeps us hidden. It stops us doing what we have the potential to do.
Learning how to push through fear will empower you and will boost your personal growth.
Often found as a chapter of a personal development book you may read or Ted X talk you may listen to, and perhaps seen as a bit of a cliché these days, but ‘feeling the fear and pushing on through’ is actually one of the most empowering beliefs you can adopt to improve performance.
The trick comes in being able to turn this empowering belief into behaviour.
That’s where the hard part lies.
We all face moments of fear and at different levels.
I had one such experience the other day where I found myself unexpectedly joining a panel of keynote speakers due to someone else not turning up to an event.
Now it’s not alien to me to stand and present to a big room of people – there were over 100 on this day – the idea of presenting was not where I began to feel the fear. Where I felt the fear was the lack of preparation and the fact I was to follow talks from influential and successful leading peers, who had weeks to gather their insight and create lovely presentation slides. My fear came from deep inside and a belief that without preparation and rehearsal I was going to fail badly and in such a public way.
I could have said no. I was given the option and for a brief moment I did think about it I confess, but then my inner sage told me I had nothing to gain from saying no and so much more from saying yes. And with quotes such as ‘Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the Other Side of Fear’ (George Addair) and ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ (Susan Jeffers) running through my head, I said YES.
Saying YES meant I was committed, it was my first step to pushing through the fear.
So, now committed I sat in a haze of battling internal saboteur talk and begun desperately rooting in the vaults of my mind for what I could say which would be of value to the audience. Tummy knotted and adrenalin rising with every passing moment. With not long to go and having listened (as much as I could to the other speakers through the noise in my head and my chest) I started to pose questions to myself such as – How do I want to be seen in this moment? What can I get from the opportunity? What is the worse that could happen?……
Reframe the situation as an opportunity.
There are lots of ways to look at a situation and reframing that moment of fear so that you see a list of positive learnings and outcomes rather than a list of self-sabotaging reasons for failure, will start the important mindset shift which will fuel your performance. After all the future is unwritten, why pre-write it with a bunch of negative stuff!
Then comes other personal tools – breathing, self-talk, affirmations based on personal positive experiences and strengths, plus visualisation.
This may seem a lot to be done in a short space of time but it can all be completed relatively quickly – and here’s the best bit – unknown to anyone around you!
Using these tools, I was able in the space of 5 minutes, to calm my nerves, clear my head, boost my self-belief, feel confident and stand to present myself in the way I wanted to be seen.
I’m pleased to say the 10 minutes flew by and feedback was positive.
Facing fear leaves you feeling empowered.
Afterwards, I felt good, yes there were doubts in my mind whether I had made any sense at all. My inner saboteurs of judgement, perfection and criticism had a field day for a few hours trying to knock my confidence, but they had no chance of succeeding because the bi-product of facing your fears is you feel stronger, more confident and happy. You feel empowered because you have looked fear right in the eye and pushed on through it.
Be your true self. After this experience I found a picture of a goldfish pretending to be a shark with the positive statement ‘Be brave, even when you are not pretend to be’. My immediate reaction was – yeah that was me ‘I turned into a shark and nailed it’. Then I realised something, in order to get through that 10-minute presentation, yes I needed to be brave but I hadn’t needed to become someone I was not. I had pulled simply on my true self. Used personal tools from my own personal experience of being coached to tap into my self-belief, boost my confidence and engage a growth mindset. Then been able to manage my internal critics so as not to allow worry and the thought of comparison to feed my fear.
Think about body language
How we hold ourselves physically can also impact how we think, feel and act in the face of fear. I had a big smile on my face, shoulders back and a ‘strut’ of confidence (even when inside my tummy was doing somersaults).
Expect the unexpected and see opportunity everywhere
Knowing that you will be thrown curve balls in your life and at work which take you out of your comfort zone should be embraced for the opportunity it offers you. If fear steps in have the courage to push through because if you don’t you will feel ten times worse than you did at that moment that’s for sure.
No matter how confident or successful we are, at some point we all ‘feel fear’. It’s a natural instinct and our brains have been wired to be aware of the danger. Fear manifests itself as anxiety, stress, adrenalin rush, fright and can be a disempowering emotion. Our internal saboteurs and gremlins use this fear to feed us limiting beliefs which can all too often stop us in our tracks. It’s what YOU do with your fear and how you engage your growth mindset to push yourself forward that makes the difference.