FEAR. It is what holds many people back. I say this because I talk to them. The people, not their fears.
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
Facing FEAR is not easy and feeling FEAR makes things harder. While I feel like I grew into the professional I am today because I had Joyce Meyer in my ear whispering, “Do it afraid,” it changed my life to think of FEAR as an acronym: FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. False Evidence. FEAR is real. It is a necessary part of survival when you consider the fight or flight response, but what if take a moment to ask ourselves “Is this real or am I getting worked up for nothing?”
What has been the false evidence in my life? That I couldn’t do something. They told me I couldn’t do it, whoever they are. My first career was as a video editor, and it began when the Weekend TV News Anchor turned and looked at me and asked me if I wanted to learn. I said yes. Honestly, I am never not learning. That Anchor began showing me how to edit video for broadcast news and before I knew it, a job became available. I applied and the technical skills assessment was to put together a SOTVO which is a Sound-on-Tape of natural background noise followed by trailing video that the Anchor could voice over. I crafted that piece, full of excitement and nerves, and I handed it in.
No. It wasn’t good enough. As if I knew I would be a Career Coach someday I asked, “Could you please let me know what I could have done better?” I was told I was a slow learner, and that the VO should have continued with natural sound at a low level. I didn’t know. It wasn’t that I couldn’t learn or that I was slow to learn, it was literally that I was so new I didn’t know what was possible. I was wounded on many levels. Clearly. This was eons. I don’t know if I needed to tell that story or you needed to read it, but the world is filled with things we don’t know. Is ‘not knowing’ enough to stop us or can we take a step and do it afraid?
FEAR: Forget Everything and Run
There is another side to fight and flight and that is the flight part. FEAR could also stand for FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN. Is this THAT time? The time when you should drop what you are doing and take off in some direction to get away from what you FEAR? No one can legitimately decide that for you. We can validate that you have every right to feel the FEAR that you are feeling.
So, what do you do once you have had that feeling you identify as FEAR? I am writing this, realizing that I must live in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” world because the story that comes to mind for me now is when I took an assignment to train Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) teams to use video production software. It was a six-month contract that had me in a new city every 3-4 weeks for six months from Melbourne and Adelaide to Perth and Darwin. I had three weeks to pack up my life in Seattle and go. Of course, I went. The best, most ignorant thing I ever did because I didn’t realize how hard it would be.
After an intense day of configuring the first classroom and labeling every single wire for every single computer terminal, I used up all my pre-paid mobile minutes to verbally meltdown on the phone to the Program Manager. He was astute to know that I was exhausted having been plucked from my routine and in a foreign land beginning an epic journey, so he let me vent. When I was done, I picked myself off the floor, went to my flat, and prepared my curriculum for the first class. The Project Manager that had the brilliant idea to label every cable so I could set up the classroom by myself, didn’t carry on. There were times when no one could find him. While it seems that I am resilient there is a part of me that I swear doesn’t know any better! While apparently, it is in my nature to run to hard projects just to see if I can get it done, it is also a valid response to not take that on if you don’t have to. What will you do in the face of FEAR? How do you want to show up?
FEAR: Forgive Everyone and Reset
In discussing the FEAR of leaving a toxic situation with someone I wondered aloud if what was holding them back was the need to FORGIVE EVERYONE AND RESET what they were trying to do with their career. The key to forgiving everyone is that it includes ourselves. Forgiving, in this context, was a way of letting go so they could move on. I have found it difficult to leave both wonderful and toxic work situations because of the FEAR of the unknown. Who are we apart from these situations? Sometimes we cannot know until we that the first step and the waters part and we begin to see our way forward.
When I returned home from that six-month contract in Australia it was to The Great Recession with a diminished set of job prospects and a new level of exhaustion from constantly being on the move. To reset my life and career I had to forgive myself for the things in my personal and professional life I avoided dealing with and take more control over my career path because no one wants to work with a person who is running from something when they can have the person running to them. I dusted myself off and joined the Office Envisioning team as a Microsoft vendor and redefined what was possible for myself, including constant public speaking in front of business leaders.
What is FEAR holding you back from? What are you going to do about it?