How to overcome fear and build confidence

On today’s episode of the YOU-Shaped Business Show, our topic is fear. You can watch my more-enthusiastic-and-animated-than-yesterday video below or scroll down for the nicely formatted notes. In this broadcast:

  • The path to success
  • The 17 seconds that changed my life
  • 3 tips for overcoming fear

Everything you want for your business (and your life!) lies in the Sea of Fear and is guarded by Ogo Pogo.

You may have heard this gem of truth: “what got you here, won’t get you there.”

Or that thing about all the good stuff being outside of your comfort zone.

There’s so much truth wrapped up in those cliched statements.

To get to where you want to go from where you are now, you’re going to need to do different things.

You’ll need to learn new skills, leave your comfort zone and overcome your fears.

The path to success

When you look at your situation logically and dispassionately (or you get some help and perspective looking at it in that way) – you fill find one path that is straighter and shorter than all of the others.

The problem with this direct path is that often it runs right though The Activities That Scare Us™

Want some examples?

  • The shortest path to more clients often looks like calling people directly, asking for referrals, going out and meeting new people in person
  • The shortest path to getting your message to a significant number of people: standing on stage and giving a presentation
  • The shortest path to getting what you want: asking for it directly

Let the justifications for door number 2 begin…

So like Billy in the Family Circus, instead of going direct, we come up with a more complicated, convoluted plan. We’ll build a website, print brochures, get the perfect logo, design the best business cards in the world, make a 37-page action plan, etc. – all so that we can stay in our comfort zone and avoid doing those things that scare us.

The path to a better way lies in this quote:

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s been my experience (as a life-long fraidy cat) that this is the only thing that works. Like Susan Jeffers says: Feel the fear and do it anyway!

17 seconds that changed my life

Me in 1998. Only more nervous and less well-dressed.

People often don’t believe me when I say this, but I am an introvert and I can be situationally shy. When I was younger, I was the shiest meekest most quietest person ever.

In 1993, I got the idea that I wanted to become a motivational speaker. FIVE YEARS LATER I finally got up the nerve to join Toastmasters to overcome my fear of public speaking.

The very first time I attempted Table Topics, I have no idea what I said. All I remember was my legs shaking so badly I thought I would collapse, the blood rushing to my face and worrying that I might pee myself.

After speaking for 17 whole seconds, I fled back to the safety of my seat. While I sat there trying to calm down and get my breathing under control, I knew – beyond any shade of a doubt – that I had just changed the trajectory of my life.

I had faced the thing that scared me to death…and I was still here.

Encouraged by my clap-happy supportive Toastmasters buddies, I took every opportunity to speak – and each time I got better, more confident and less nervous. Now, 20 years later, speaking is something I LOVE to do. (Need a speaker? Invite me!)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Overcoming your fears will open opportunities that weren’t previously available to you.” quote=”Overcoming your fears will open opportunities that weren’t previously available to you.”]

Getting past my fear of speaking opened the door to a lucrative gig as a Microsoft Certified Trainer – and this business – which I got off the ground by speaking at events and delivering live workshops.

It needs to be The Thing

This part of the quote is critical:

Nice try sales guy…but you still need to make those cold calls!

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Several years ago, I “invested” several thousands of dollars in a personal development program that promised to alleviate ALL of my fears.

During the week-long intensive, I broke an arrow with my throat, walked across hot coals and jumped off a telephone pole.

However…despite yelling “I am leaving behind all of my fears” before I leapt off the top of that pole (in a safety harness!) – I did not leave behind all of my fears.

While I no longer feared hot coals or heights, I still feared making phone calls, introducing myself to new people and (ahem) broadcasting my face live over social media.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”To overcome a fear, it needs to be The Fear. You must do the actual thing you are afraid of. Walking over hot coals won’t get you past the fear of cold calling!” quote=”To overcome a fear, it needs to be The Fear. You must do the actual thing you are afraid of. A proxy isn’t good enough.”]

3 Tips for Overcoming Fears

Do a LOT of it

Once or twice isn’t enough.

And leaving a lot of time in between allows the anxiety to build back up.

Give 20 speeches. Make 100 cold calls. Go on Facebook Live every day for 6 weeks. 🙂

I got past my fear of the phone by scheduling 47 calls to strangers over 2 weeks. I got over my fear of rejection by attending a conference in my pajamas.

Lower the bar for success

After my first broadcast yesterday, Joe asked me how it went.

My response: “I sucked. But I did it, so it was awesome. Yay me!”

Give yourself full marks simply for doing it.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Doing something scary? Lower the bar for success. The path to getting good at something new requires that you get past being sucky at it first. Don’t increase the challenge by adding a high performance bar.” quote=”The path to getting good at something new requires that you get past being sucky at it first. Especially if you’re afraid of doing it, don’t increase the challenge by adding a high performance bar.”]

Do it NOW

Waiting only allows the anxiety to build.

Ask me how I know…I’ve been putting off the whole “show up on social media” thing for years. 

Try the 5 second rule.

Want courage and confidence? This is how you get it.

Even better than the part of the quote I shared earlier is this part:

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Want to make good “boss” decisions? Take fear off the table.

Or as Nietzsche said: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

This is so true. The confidence I gained from public speaking rippled out through my life and made taking on other fears easier.

Yesterday, as I watched the broadcast timer count down: “you will go live in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1…” I felt my heart race, my mouth go dry and my face turn red. I don’t even remember what I said after that – only feeling vaguely aware that I was rambling.

Today…it was easier. Tomorrow will be easier yet.

By the end of this 6 week experiment, going live on camera will be no big deal.

At that point, I’ll be able to evaluate whether or not I continue to do these broadcasts by asking “is this the direct path to where I want to go?” instead of letting my fear remove that option from consideration.