We’ve all been there…crippled by some fear of failure and judgement, but this fear holds us back, and keeps us from finding our greatness…and having a lot of fun!
When my son, Michael, was really young, he was involved in softball. On Long Island, there was this team that he wanted to play on, and anyone who wanted to join had to attend tryouts to determine if you were on the A team, B team, or C team — players were separated according to how skilled they were. So, these tryouts would put the kids through several tests for running, batting, and so on.
This was the first time my son was exposed to this sort of pressure, and when we got to the field, he was so nervous, and he didn’t want to do it. He kept telling me that he wanted to go home and that he didn’t want to be there, but I talked him into staying.
Facing Fears Head On
He was going to start with the batting test, so we headed over there, and the kid that was currently being tested was amazing: connecting on every ball and hitting it out of the park. Michael was watching with growing dismay, and suddenly got this overwhelming sense of fear, and he whispered to me, “Daddy, I can’t do this. We have to go.”
Now, I need you to understand this situation from my son’s perspective. He was being asked to go into a batting cage where adults were going to judge him on his abilities. From a psychological perspective, that amount of pressure can be a lot to manage mentally, especially for a kid.
When Michael told me that he couldn’t do this, I brought him over to the side of the bench and I said, “Michael, you know what I do for a living.” He nodded, because he had often traveled with me. I continued. “I’m going to tell you the number one thing that helps my students when they feel like you are feeling now. It’s OK to have fear, but don’t let fear have you. Michael, I don’t care if you go into that cage and miss every single ball, I just don’t want to have the fear control you. Just go into the cage and swing.”
Come Out Swinging
So, he did. He went in, and he swung the bat, and he hit some, and missed a lot, and when he came out, he said, “Okay, let’s go do the next thing.” We went to the running test, the catching test, and so on, and we were there for an hour and a half and he was sweating by the time we were done. We were sitting on the bench as he rested, and he looked up at me and smiled, “Daddy, I had fun today.”
I looked back down to him and said, “Michael, don’t ever forget that it’s OK to have fear, just don’t let that fear rip you off from playing full out in life.”
Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” That’s a message for all of us, especially if you are dealing with fear in your business. It’s OK to have that fear, just get into the batting cage and swing — prospect, pick up the phone, knock on doors. It doesn’t matter how well you do, just swing! Be on the playing field, put yourself out there, and eventually the results will happen.
TIP: Read Very Well Mind’s article, “Healthy Ways To Face Your Fears” for more suggestions and science for overcoming our anxieties.
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