It really has been far too long since my last blog article. So it's time to get my act together and do something about it! This is the point where I would normally make my excuses - but I am resisting the temptation!
I read a quote the other day from a guy called Dale Carnegie (that's right, me too - I had to google him!)
“Fear is the result of a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do. A lack of knowing what you can do is caused by a lack of experience. A lack of experience is caused by a lack of doing something new.”
It got me thinking about my terrible fear of business networking. Whilst I really enjoy talking to individuals, the thought of introducing myself to an unfamiliar group of people used to fill me with dread.
Looking back now, absolutely nothing would have got me into a room of people. Nothing.
A colleague invited me to a networking event and it was a free event. I heard myself agree to attend, but then instantly regretted it. I agonised for a long while about how I was going to say no.
Then I remembered the title of a book I had half read (I do that a lot) - it was called "feel the fear and do it anyway". As we were in the midst of coronavirus restrictions, the meeting was online. I started to think that this made me feel more safe. I would be in my own home. I could close the screen at any time.
The time came for the meeting, and I was really anxious - I was over preparing what I was going to say - over, and over, and over, and OVER again.
The strangest thing of all was the realisation after the meeting was that it actually wasn't as bad as I thought at all. Why had I built this up to be as bad as it was? I took this to my own therapy and realised that it all stemmed back to one 'networking' meeting I had attended when I was about 14. It was a careers fair where I said something to one of the speakers who decided he didn't like what I had said. He chastised me and I was left feeling embarrassed and shamed. Knowing this actually filled me with new confidence that actually, my fear was based on totally outdated information.
So what came next? I then started joining other networks - I joined networks called Growth Community and InBusiness and found people that I really got on with. I discovered they were all real people, all well intentioned and all with their own fears and vulnerabilities.
I would go as far to say that I even enjoy networking now, and that I am more than happy to do it in the real world, outside of Zoom. I'd even feel much better joining a brand new group.
But what is the lesson here? Well here are my thoughts....
Try to work out why you have a fear in a particular setting - is this an outdated message from an earlier time?
Look at your own personal balance of what you might term 'Danger Signals' vs 'Safety Signals'. Often we may perceive danger that isn't really there, or that is blown out of proportion. We often don't see the safety signals, because we are so invested in the danger signals.
Think about what is the worst thing that could really happen, and work back to what is most likely to happen. Does that reduce the anxiety?
Prepare, but don't over-prepare. For example, your fear may be something where you need to say or do something. Prepare that. But don't rehearse it over and over again. You might be better prepared by doing some exercises to relieve your anxiety - perhaps some deep breathing or meditation.
Experiment. If you don't like something, is there a way you could try it out in a way that keeps you safe? For example, would doing something online first help? Could you view from the sidelines? Could you do something with a more confident friend?
Feel the fear and do it anyway! Fear doesn't have to be a negative thing. Use it to your advantage. Contextualise your fear. Play with ways to minimise it. Fear is a state of mind.
As I always say, your biggest friend is CURIOSITY. Rather than dismiss an idea out of hand, get curious about your fear.
I fundamentally believe that we all have all the resources within ourselves to overcome any issue. But with difficult challenges, the help of a professional can be invaluable.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help, get in touch.
If you would like to find out more, I would welcome a conversation with you.
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I hope to speak with you soon!