This week I want to write about the upbeat topic of fear. This is particularly on my mind as I reflect on my first day of the Inspiring Speakers Programme (http://www.gingerpublicspeaking.com/events/registerisp) which I will be participating in over the next six months. During my training as a coach and in my subsequent practice I’ve done lots of work on looking at my own fears as well as those of my clients. I’ve got to know intimately my own particular brand of ‘saboteur’ or ‘gremlin’ which sometimes stops or deters me when I want to do certain things – especially when these things require an element of bravery or boldness. This exploration has helped me to recognise my saboteur who I call Peeko, when he shows up. I have learnt to detect the symptoms in my body and thought processes when he is around. This enables me to choose either to ignore him or sometimes listen to what he has to say if I perceive some wisdom or truth. As a result of naming these fears and getting to know them for what they are, I’ve become bolder in my choices about what I do – and much happier. So the good news is that Peeko’s power is fading.
And yet … And yet…
Here I am embarking on this speaking programme – without a doubt one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. It answers my yearning to speak to audiences, satisfies the performer in me. Provides a vehicle for my longing to get my message across to as many people as I can that it is crucial to our well being and growth as human beings to express OUT LOUD our deepest longings and, yes, fears. In the run up to the programme I was so excited and certain, that I was able to ignore the vague doubts that Peeko was whispering in my ear.
But as I sat on my chair in the circle on the first day I noticed a growing anxiety in my body. Sure I loved it all, got maximum from the lively exercises, entered wholeheartedly in to the rich learning. Our final exercise – getting up to speak for a few minutes on our core message – went well. Yet by the end of the day that old familiar queasy feeling of self doubt was gaining a fierce hold.
So what is going on? Having completed a great initial workshop on the subject last autumn, I realise that choosing to participate in this more advanced programme has provoked in me all the stuff around moving from the joyful ignorance of being a complete beginner to the far more demanding arena of stepping up to the next level and all that entails.
It’s like going from GCSEs to A levels. It’s the law student who does excellently in her studies at university and then has to go practice for real. The writer who produces a great short story at her first writing class and then has to contemplate the possibility of writing a novel. The singer who goes from being a competent crooner at her local pub and then enters The X Factor (for the record, I haven’t done that one –just imagining).
So it’s something about being tested – really tested. Getting serious. The part of me that wonders, can I really do this? When I say I love speaking to audiences do I actually have anything important to say? Can I move people? Will I do well in front of my peers? What about in front of the world? Am I in fact just a one day wonder?
Well, maybe I am and maybe I’m not – I guess I’m just going to have to find out. Because ultimately I want to do this far far more than staying safe and sound, yet silent and wondering. One thing I’m still learning – and this is a biggie – is that it’s perfectly cool to try things and to fail. In fact not just cool – but crucial, if I’m to grow and develop.
That’s all a bit rich coming from a life coach isn’t it? You’d think I’d have got that one worked out by now wouldn’t you? But I’m willing to say this OUT LOUD – after all my work on myself this is still a massive challenge to me as I always want to be the best at what I do. And as you all know (but I still struggle with) there are no guarantees about that one.
So I’m curious – is there something you are yearning to do but deterred by fear? If you can bear to, please leave a comment. I can guarantee that if you are brave enough to look at your fears and name them, it will go a long way towards your facing up to them and deciding once and for all whether you are going to go for it regardless. Surely that’s worth a try?