Last week I met with a business coach. He asked me to prepare for our meeting by identifying my biggest fear in starting my business. He said if I knew my biggest fear, this would connect me to all other fears which are blocks to taking action.
After we talked for a while, he nailed it: “Fear of criticism,” he told me.
There is still a voice that wants to remain with the status quo. Don’t make waves. It’s dangerous to stand out, they might not like you or get jealous. Stay safe.
So I play this game with myself: What’s are the risks of taking action and what are the benefits?
Step One: Make a List of Risks Versus Benefits
I do something similar with my students in Speech class where I ask them to write two lists before they give a speech: “Risks of Public Speaking” and “Benefits of Public Speaking.”
The risks they come up with include: forgetting what to say, blushing, stuttering, going blank, feeling nauseous. But the benefits include: improving language skills, becoming more qualified for a job or job interview, getting more confidence or more clients, ultimately making more money, etc.
Often they will have an attitude adjustment after seeing these two lists.
They see with the rational side of themselves that fear of going blank cannot beat out getting a better job in the long run.
If I write my risks versus benefits of speaking and writing for my work, I come out ahead on the benefits side.
If I speak or write my truth, they might laugh or disagree with me;
If I publish another book, people might not buy it or criticize it.
If I speak my truth, I learn confidence and who my true friends are;
If I am more widely read, I can help more people with my stories and insights, I can also get more work;
If I show up and write each day, my writing improves.
Part Two: What If?
Next Step: What if I don’t do what I want? What are the consequences then? What if I don’t take that chance, don’t make that move? What does that look like, feel like?
If I don’t move to that new city and take that new job, I stay in a place and job I don’t like. Again, there is too much at stake to NOT follow through.
Part Three: Visualization of the Paths of Fear Versus the Path of Taking Action
Part three is a visualization that answers the question, how do I feel when I take that risk or try that new thing?
Visualization of the different paths:
For example, I am walking down a path. It comes to a fork in the road, maybe there are two paths, maybe three options. I look down the first one. It’s the path where I play small. When I look, I see overgrown vines, not a lot of space. Closed in. So I turn in my mind’s eye to the second path. It’s bright, pretty but linear and predictable. It’s comfortable. It’s the one where I am now. I’m tempted. But when I look down the third path, the one where I am taking the biggest risk, I see it is not just a linear path, but it seems to expand into a very wide path, very bright; it doesn’t even look like a linear path but is bursting with benefits, opportunities.
You can try this exercise of coming to a fork in the road in your own imagination. See what happens as you look down the different paths.
Doing these exercises doesn’t always mean you will opt for change, the new move, the new job. This exercise can show you if you are on the best path already.
As I connect and walk this path of living large, this more exciting path aligns with more potential, excitement. But the change or challenge can bring doubts, hesitations. We’ll talk next time about how to move through doubt and hesitation.
Share your own experiences of taking risks with me below and, if you found it helpful, share with a friend.