“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator… The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Steven Pressfield: The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
Daily people make the dynamic decision to become “all-in” in one endeavor or another. These strong men and women decide to leave behind the path of mediocrity and emerge on the road less traveled. This is the road of individualism and freedom. Folks who do not feel feel in their daily pursuit proceed down the same rut worked out by their predecessor without thought of “what if.” Life without fear becomes a daily rut or an early grave. Small people take small chances with small pay-off. Great people take great chances with the potential for great pay off.
Every growth step in life is accompanied by fear, strength, and challenge. Entrepreneurs have usually graduated from fear to utter terror—they realize that not only their future but the future of many others depends on their success. If they did not feel utter terror they would be delusional! Yet they succeed using the old adage from one of my favorite books of the 90s, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Fear motivates me to study harder, write more, use more editors, and think deeply. Even though I have been making presentations for over 40 years, every time I have a presentation ahead I feel the old familiar fears,
“What is the technology does not work?”
“What if I look like an idiot?”
“What if they know everything I am going to say and I appear foolish?”
When I 12-years-old I received advice from my dad. As a seasoned presenter, he often told me, “Remember, you will know more about this subject than anyone else in the room. That is why you are the best person to make the presentation.” That worked on a 12-year-old: once.
When the next geography presentation came around I asked him, “What if I am NOT the smartest one in the class on this project?”
“Who will know if you don’t tell them?” he asked.
“Me, “ I retorted.
“Well, no one will ask you. And you have to keep that secret because they are depending on you! They want to believe that they are going to hear something GREAT. Remember, most people in the audience want you to knock it out of the park. Don’t disappoint them.”
Often I have kept the secret that I was NOT the most knowledgeable in the room. Sometimes, without bluffing or fibbing, I made presentations “to the best of my knowledge” and owned up to the fact that there were gaps in my information.
Other times, like when defending my dissertation, I was amazed to hear myself answering a question while thinking to myself, “I really AM the most qualified on this subject!” Yes, that presentation was four years in the making and two solid years of becoming the expert on building leadership in children in adolescents. However, when it mattered, even in a room of professors and Ph D educational experts I knew I could stand out in this ONE aspect. I capitalized on that area and conquered my fear.
What area will you conquer your fear in today?