Kill fear. Do it anyway.

Blank page.
Many things to say.
None seem worthwhile though.
And so you keep quiet, moving on to the next tab on your browser, something to distract you, something else to do that you will call ‘work’.

The last event attracted 200 people.
This year’s is potentially going to double that number.
The stage had a ‘wow’ factor and yet, it was incredibly daunting.
You got the invite this year, one more time. Again, you hummed and hawed.
Made excuses, told them you would not be able to speak.
And so you just keep walking by these opportunities you call problems or a waste of time.

Do you have an idea you know will work? Yes.
Have you done anything to explore it? No.
Are you actually making excuses? Yes.
Does it keep popping into your head when you find a spare moment or when the busyness of the day begins to settle down? Yes.
And so you keep carrying on, filling your time with lots of stuff to do, while quietly stilling that inner voice that is both bold and scared at the same time.

You have important things to say. But you don’t say them.
You have things that you know you should do. But you don’t do them.
You have ideas you so badly want to explore. But again, you hold back, waiting for the perfect moment to present itself to you. It’s as if you are waiting for something or someone to shout out that it is safe to go try, that this indeed is that moment to jump.

It’s not going to happen.

No one is going to make you do it.
No one is in your head, living your life, thinking your thoughts or dreaming your dreams.
Not everyone is going to understand if you do go explore your path.
Not everyone is going to support your journey.

So, here’s the question?

Will you do it?
Will you do it now?
If not now, then when?
If not at all, why?

#makeithappen

Fear gets to all of us, even those who are successful. But we can’t let it beat us, we need great hacks to beat fear down and get us to a place where we are living the life we want to live. What do you do to beat fear? Please share your thoughts in the comments, as I too want to learn from you.

I run the VerticalDistinct platform to support both Human Resource and Technology professionals. I blog on the entrepreneurial journey. I write for Women of HR, post on LinkedIn and am an Associate Editor at the HR Gazette. Let’s connect, let’s learn from each other. Let me know how I can support you.

 

Why You Should Embrace Public Speaking

Public speaking is hard. The fear is understandable and real. And the truth is, wherever you turn, you are likely to meet far more people afraid of public speaking than otherwise.

Raj Kumar referred to, in The Art of Speaking Eloquently, a point made by Patricia Fripp :

“All speaking outside our home is public speaking, there is no such thing as private speaking”.

Indeed.

You, therefore, have two options. Hide below a rock and never explore the occasion to shine. Or brace yourself and do the unthinkable. Put yourself out there, raise your hand and get yourself a speaking spot.

Why?

  1. Increase your visibility

Chances are high that you seek more visibility whether in terms of where you stand in your company, as against your peers, in terms of how your business leaders view you, in terms of the dream job you’ve been vying or the project you’ve been working to get yourself involved in. Whether such visibility is for yourself or your own business, public speaking offers a chance to establish your personal branding in a more concrete, visceral manner.

It’s possible that, in your first few attempts, you may flop or worse still, be tepid. In fact, you don’t start usually with polish and pizzazz. But you must realise that you fail forward. You achieve success one painful step at a time. And every single step taken is worth its weight in gold.

  1. Helps you build character

You are effectively standing up to your fears and dealing with it head on. That is no small feat and when you’ve succeeded, this will be an internal marker that you will come back to, time and again, to help you figure out your limitations, strengths and mindset. It will help you push yourself further and do things you previously thought unimaginable.

  1. Learn to think on your feet

They don’t teach this much in school and you learn this the hard way once you enter the corporate world. Anything you can do that helps you develop critical thinking and thinking on your feet will be of immense value both in your personal and professional life. The quicker you start down this road, the better!

  1. Establish your voice and be an influencer

Everyone has the opportunity to become both student and teacher. With some exception, it is not always necessary for you to get a teaching qualification, in order to teach. We learn, at every step of the way and we learn when we open our hearts and minds to the lessons before us. If we pick up good ideas and can share them, they will be of benefit and real value to many who are at different stages of similar journeys. And so, as you learn, you teach, you share, you influence.

  1. Improve your communication skills

Even though you have been learning language and the art of communication, from the day you were born, you would not baulk at the idea that your communication skills could use some help, that communication is a lot harder to put into practice than people make it out to be.

The fact is that communication can sometimes be quite the minefield. You’re using words, body language and emotion. There’s nuances, slight twists in body language, the inflection at the end of a sentence – all these can either support what you are saying or betray your true meaning!

Practise, practise, practise. Practise quicker, practise more.

  1. Broaden your circle

Speaking is also a wonderful way of broadening your circle.

So if you are new to this and want to make your first tentative steps, I’d suggest that a good warm up, but perhaps equally effective, is to accept the guest panellist role at a conference. The choice of conference, the reputation of the conference organisers, the other guest panelists as well as the topic itself are all worthy of consideration in making a decision on whether to accept the invitation to be a guest panellist.

But once you’ve accepted the invitation, your work has begun.

In my next post, I will share tips on what to do once you’ve landed your spot on a panel session.

If You Could Focus on One Skill To Develop, What Would It Be and Why?

I know I said one but that was just to hook you in. The truth is I think there’s six. They vary in weight but there’s an interesting dynamic between of all them.

Courage

Some may call it foolhardy but it takes courage to walk down the road you’ve chosen, one you may not articulate to the ones you love. You may find it hard to justify your goals or actions or maybe, you just don’t see the point in doing so. Whatever it is, at some point, you walk your road alone. And the only thing you have going… is the belief that you’re doing the right thing by yourself and that this is what you’re meant to do.

Courage is not always in the bravado acts, the ones we see and identify with. It takes as much courage, if not more, to do the things we need to do, in the shadows, day in and day out.

Persistence

They go hand in hand. You don’t need to persist when you are succeeding, do you? You persist when things go wrong, when you are flailing. And God help you because they don’t teach you this in school. You either learn this because your mama or papa took the time to drill this into you or you built this up yourself, one day at a time. One project, one experiment, one experience at a time.

Mindfulness

If you don’t have the presence of mind to take a step back every now and again to evaluate what is going on, then you run the risk of blindly moving, racing through life till you come to the bitter end and see the mess you’ve created. Because there is no one to blame for the choices you’ve made, except yourself. Whether you’d care to admit or not. On the outside, you could blame a lot of things – your parents, your upbringing, your culture, your financial problems, insert your lack of whatever – the list is endless if you go down this road.

But while we cannot control all the circumstances we find ourselves in, our greatest joy and success comes from our ability to control how we respond, react and deal with the stuff we face. When we boil it all down, every one of us has a story to tell. A story of hope, a story of desperation. Of loneliness, regret, anger, disappointment and loss. Of ambition, passion and hope. Of losing out and breaking through.

Hope

You’ve got to live a live of hope or it simply does not work. If you click out, if you say that your life is mapped out for you, from the choices you’ve made so far, if you let your situation dictate your response, that is not a life of hope.

Hope will take you through your darkest days, it will hold you strong through your weakest moments. And to hold hope strong is to believe that anything is possible.

Curiosity

If you are curious about your world, the relationships you make, the wider goings-on, if you have an interest in how things happen and why, that curiosity will fuel you. It will give you ideas, it will open up new vistas, it will bring more into your life than you imagine.

Embrace failure

This is a big life lesson. I will consider my job as a parent more than half done if I can pass this on successfully to my kids. What you want to get to is the development of a mindset where you are not fazed by failure. The highest point would be almost an embrace of it – a kind of egging on. To get to a place where your ego and self worth are unaffected by the results you get, where you don’t question everything you are about and what you do. A place where you can quietly look past the failure and see what is beyond. Where you can look at your failure, right in the eye, to see how and when and why you failed.

I am slowly warming up to the idea that success may lie in still running the race. For success ends the minute you choose to check out.

You’re still here, there’s still the brightness of another shiny new day. You’ve got your head, your heart. You’ve got a dream.
What more do you need?

Just commit to six?

I don’t know about you but with all the multi-tasking we already do, our checklists, our desire to cram every single minute with activity and stuff, it’s easy to believe we need to increase our productivity. There’s a mad desire almost to continually keep pushing.

And there is so much stuff out there pushing and pulling you in different directions all the time.

Do more. Do less.

Produce, strive and put in effort.

Relax, take a load off, enjoy nothingness.

I read something recently about productivity and it touched on how you could be more productive by simply making a list of six things that you know you need to accomplish the next day. I know that in today’s world, nobody has only six things they need to do tomorrow. We have way much more. But I understand the concept of just committing to six and think it has a greater chance of succeeding than if you tried to do more.

My biggest problem is prioritising. It’s not a problem as in I am unsure of what to prioritise, it’s that there is too much clamouring to be prioritised. But I cannot do it all and I’ve realised that when so much is screaming for attention and needing to be done urgently, it’s way easier to just stall.

You get stressed. You feel it mount within you and it leaves you more times than not, almost motionless. You get caught in busy work but you’ve not really achieved anything. And when you have so many priorities, achieving anything is about closing down on the hard stuff you know you need to get done.

So, try to commit to less. I think it could work. What bothers me is the inertia from trying to take on too much. Everything comes at you hard and fast and it seems insurmountable. But if you contain that emotion and just pick the one thing you should work on, the fear and stress begin to lessen.

It’s action that helps, not thought or planning. It’s getting things done. And therefore, perhaps the trick is not in committing to more or less. The trick is to leave the stress aside and just begin. Slowly but surely.

4 ways to get rid of fear

With a newborn in tow, and two young kids, it’s safe to say that my stress levels have increased. Alongside the stress is a level of fear as well. Every situation presents an opportunity for you to put your best foot forward and when you battle sleep deprivation, an increased amount of childcare alongside the other daily demands of work and chores, these opportunities merely showcase the areas in which you lack skill, patience and mindfulness.

Your back is against the wall, the margins for error are reduced and time is simply not on your side. You have a range of technological devices and platforms now available, that was simply not the case, years ago and yet, though life has become simpler, it tends not to feel that way. Instead, you feel like a mouse on a wheel and it’s constantly turning round and round.

And then it hits you. Why fear creates this rising panic, this melancholy, this pervasive sense of doom.

1. You’re simply dealing with the emotional impact of fear and stopping there.

When you are in fear, examine why. Really examine what the root cause is and be honest with yourself. Consider things from a number of perspectives. Turn the problem on its head. Once you do that, the fear is reduced.

2.Consider your worst case scenario and deal with it.

When you consider what is causing your fear, think about what the worst thing could be. Sometimes, it is pretty bad. But most times, its the fear of fear that is more debilitating. Once you confront the worst possible option, things seem to open up.

3. Have a plan.

The best way to get rid of fear is to come up with a plan. Figure out what’s broken or what needs to be fixed or what needs to be done. Make a plan to deal with it. As soon as you start making a plan, start doing something, the fear starts to go away. Action puts you back in control.

4. Just do it.

Nothing revs you up more than just getting in there and doing it. Doing what needs to get done. Doing what you’ve been fearing. It’s the moment things get out of your head and get into the realm of what’s real. And when you do that, fear dissolves.

 

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