Feel the fear but do it anyway.
I was reminded of this last night whilst re-watching the Sopranos. The main character Tony Soprano, mafia boss, is in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and his therapist suggests that he consider progressing to behavioural therapy and brings him in a copy of Susan Jeffers book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway as reading material.
I read this book several years ago based on the recommendation of a fellow coach and the premise of turning fear and indecision into confidence and action. I adapted the book title into a personal mantra – face the fear and do it anyway. Whenever I feel nervous or indecisive about something, I often repeat this mantra to myself and dive on in. What's the worst that can happen?
Fear of failure
When coaching clients, fear of failure is often a prime concern but it doesn’t present itself initially. It seems that we are still uncomfortable with owning failure as it continues to carry a negative connotation. Until we can identify our real prime concern, we can’t get to the root cause in order to move forward. One of Susan Jeffers’ quotes about failure struck a chord with me ‘you’re not a failure if you don’t make it, you’re a success because you try.’ What a freeing statement! We often focus so much on the end goal that we lose sight of the smaller progressive steps we’ve made. I certainly found myself doing this when I set up my business. I was so focused on getting my head around marketing and attracting paying clients which didn’t come quickly due to various circumstances and I began to let the ‘F’ word creep in – failing.
During some recent coaching preparation, I came across a recommendation by Ali Temple, a performance coach and former international acrobat – he advocates that rather than asking ‘How successful am I?’ ask yourself ‘How effective am I?’ He goes on to say that if you are being effective then you are being successful on a daily basis. This changed my mindset in terms of how I view my daily tasks and reduced my self-imposed pressure to be seen as applying myself successfully.
Both of the aforementioned references have been helpful reminders to me for positively reframing and acknowledging my increased knowledge, new learnings, new connections and collaborative opportunities along the way. This means that I am operating from a resourceful state as opposed to an unresourceful state, and able to witness myself moving forward by acknowledging small incremental steps towards my overall business goal. When was the last time you carried out a self-audit on your resources?
The power of 'yet'
When working with a recent coaching client who is a start-up, he was struggling with self-limiting beliefs. He was concerned that he might not have enough experience, he didn't know how to attract clients and wasn't sure how to get to grips with marketing and therefore, didn't feel he could start to move his business forward and was afraid of failing. I asked him to try adding 'yet' to each of his concerns, i.e. I don't have enough experience...yet, I don't know how to attract clients...yet. This changed the whole dynamic of the conversation as he was able to open himself up to possibility and could see what he was already doing to develop in these areas or could explore what he could be doing to develop these skills further.
Feel the fear...
Fear stifles action so the next time you feel fear taking a grip on you, think about this model from Ruby McGuire:
Feel - what feelings are coming up for you? Write them down & try to understand them
Express - read them out loud, one at a time
Acknowledge - it's OK to feel what you are feeling, it's what you do about it that matters
Release - let them go. Tell your unconscious mind that you are choosing to release the feeling/s
...and do it anyway
By interpreting failure as feedback we can grow to view negative outcomes as nothing more than feedback which are opportunities for learning and improving. It also helps us to develop our resilience the more we can face uncertainty head on. The more we are able to do this, each event
desensitises us from the emotions that stop us from taking action and moving forward. Over time we learn that such outcomes are more often than not less consequential than we had imagined them to be, whereas often the perceived fear of a negative outcome holds us back. If we can accept that making a wrong decision or a mistake may result in us experiencing a negative outcome but we will have new insights and learnings, then fear will have less of a hold over us.
Persistence in the face of failure is critical to final success.
Notice what you are telling yourself:
your language should be empowering you - if it's not, reframe it positively
rewrite your story or get rid of it altogether if it isn't serving you
ask yourself whether you are operating from a resourceful state
recognise that you are gaining awareness and insight and becoming more effective as you move forward
celebrate even the smallest of successes
If anything here resonates with you and you would like to explore coaching or an NLP breakthrough day, please do get in touch for an informal no-obligation exploratory call - 07791 863092 / firstname.lastname@example.org