Here’s a quick look at this episode:
- What is fear?
- When is fear appropriate?
- What are you really feeling (hint: it’s not really fear)
- How to move through the fear to reach your goals
Well hello there! Welcome back to the redefining Bold podcast. You're listening to episode number 18 and I'm your host Gwen Whitfield from theboldabode.com, where I guide warm-hearted women in their quest for a more organized, cleaner home and a more productive and vibrant life.
So I am looking at creating my very first eCourse. And I'm thinking about all the things that I need to do and what's going on in my business right now. And I've gotten to this place before and got very stuck, which I talked about this in episode 13 on perfectionism.
As I sit in a very similar situation right now, I’ve been really thinking about this moment in time very carefully, trying to analyze and understand what I'm feeling.
As a 9 on the Enneagram, I often don't really understand how I'm feeling and why I'm feeling it. And that can be frustrating, but it is possible to move through it. So as I begin to think about outlining my course and how I can provide the most value and benefit to help you, I'm noticing the these old feelings begin to surface. And the primary emotion that I'm feeling right now is this fear of failing.
On episode 13 we talked about perfectionism and at the very end of that podcast, here is what I said, and for sure you can pause this and go back and listen to the entire episode if you want to really dig deeper, but this is what I said at the very end:
“Embrace failure. Learn to use it to your advantage. May your failures be stepping stones that lead you to your success. If you fail a big and fail often, you create a tolerance for it and that is how you get to where you want to be.”
So I’m going to let you into my some very personal space in my brain so you have an understanding of what I’m dealing with right now and then I’ll share with you how I’m working through it. Because when you can get really good at catching these kinds of thoughts going through your head, you can immediately address them.
And so what's been going through my head are thoughts like this:
I think my email list might be too small to get any real interest.
My social media never gets any real interaction so why would anyone want to pay me anything?
Why doesn’t anyone respond to my emails? (which they do, so this is a total lie)
What do I really have to offer that isn’t already out there?
All of these questions that are bleeding through my gray matter, are really the fear of failure in disguise. This fear is dressed itself all up in raggedy clothes pretending to hold a crystal ball sashaying through my self-confidence to try to keep me in my comfort zone. But the truth is my current comfort zone is not very comfortable which is why I am writing this podcast right now. To show you how real this all is…even though I know better. It still happens.
So let's take a moment and read the definition of failure from dictionary.com:
an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success:
His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure.
nonperformance of something due, required, or expected:
a failure to do what one has promised; a failure to appear.
a subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency:
the failure of crops.
deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength, etc.:
The failure of her health made retirement necessary.
When i look at these definitions, I think about what failure really means in terms of life. And in relationship to fear. Fearing failure doesn't have anything to do with being unsuccessful having a lack of success, because we haven't tried yet. We don't have tangible evidence of our efforts. However if this fear paralyzes us into not taking action, then the second definition seems very relevant. By being paralyzed by fear we automatically are in a state of non-performance, we have failed to do what we promised ourselves and failed to appear. But that's still not really dealing with the fear part of it.
When we have a fear of something in the future, of the unknown, we are assigning a result before we have even taken action.
Now, fear is a real emotion that is appropriate in certain circumstances. When I was newly married, and we lived in Jackson Mississippi, I worked at a branch of the union Planters Bank. One morning, after I got up to open the door at 9 AM, I sat back down at my desk and was talking to my trainee, martha. We were discussing some details about opening checking accounts when I noticed two young gentleman walk in the bank.
One walked over to our head teller, and the other one started walking towards Martha and I. The first thing I noticed was that the first young man immediately hopped up on the counter in front of Val. This was not a short jump. It was very startling, but not quite as startling as the gun that was pointing directly between my eyes. That is an appropriate moment to feel fear.
The dude waved his gun at us, and proceeded to tell us to go back towards the vault. And so we did and we all got on our knees in the vault room, as the first young man held a gun to Vals head and told her to open the safe. The second young man motion to me to get up and follow him to the teller drawers and I must've looked very confused, because I wasn't a teller and I didn't know how to open any of the drawers. And he must've realized that because then he got one of the tellers to follow him instead.
All I remember about that moment was the guy threatening Val was getting very anxious and telling her to hurry up in my branch manager, Derek standing up and telling that guy to give her a minute. I feel like that was very brave of Derek and could've been really stupid, but the young man listened and allowed Val to open up the safe.
Now we were all very fortunate, no one was harmed and we spent about five minutes in a little tiny closet as they made their escape. The funny thing is is we had four different vaults, and Val specifically opened the vault with only the one dollar bills and the five dollar bills. And as they were leaving they were complaining about that.
But Val knew what she was doing and the CEO appreciated that and she got a bonus in her next check.
This was a very traumatizing experience and we were very fortunate. But that is an example when fear is truly appropriate and real.
But is that what I'm really feeling right now when I think about creating the effortlessly clean home course? Is there any impending danger or evil or pain?
No. No one is going to threaten me, no one is going to physically injure me, no one is holding a gun to my head, and there is no evil afoot.
So fear, in this situation, is not really appropriate. The truth is: what I am feeling, the state that I'm in right now, is actually uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the state of being uncertain, in doubt, or experiencing hesitancy. It's unpredictable, it's undetermined, and indefinite. I am uncertain about what is going to happen in the future. Making that shift from fear to uncertainty creates a very different feeling in my body.
It helps me to be more curious about not just a future but about the present.
And I begin to think about what if? What if I keep working at this? What if I put everything I know into this so that I can help other people not just keep their homes clean, but I actually enjoy the process. To go from feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, to feeling joy, and peace, and confidence.
Curiosity is a much more positive state been feeling fear. Being curious allows me to be in a state of experimentation. And if I can approach my life, my business, my courses, with that mindset, the fear literally vanishes. And I'm propelled into a sense of wonder and inquisitiveness. And so this idea of failure, or defeat, changes.
Take the iPhone for example. What iteration of the iPhone are we currently on? The launch of the iPhone was not the end of launches for the iPhone, right? The iPhone is continually evolving. New features are introduced, changes are made, some of which work and some of which don't. But there's always an attitude of expansion, of progression, of creating some thing better than there was before.
If a certain variation was a commercial "flop", Apple didn’t just give up and go home and say boo-hoo, I failed. No, they took that "failure" and instead of taking their ball and going home, used it as feedback. This feedback propels them to continue to change their product, every year, hopefully for the better. They never set out to create some thing that doesn't work properly or doesn't have a more sophisticated operating system and better technology.
And so there is no failure. There is only feedback.
So the next time you want to try something new, get curious. Be open to what lies ahead rather than anxious about it. Live in a state of experimentation reaching for progress and expansion. Because whatever it is you want to do, whatever kind of life you want to truly live, whatever activity, or career your dream of doing, no matter what it is, even if it's painting your wall a different color, living in a state of curiosity will open up your heart.
And an open, receptive heart, has room for joy and room for growth.
But fear? Fear crowds out the joy, fear crowds out the growth, fear crowds out any sense of progression or expansion.
Let’s make room in our lives to create what we truly want by living in a state of curiosity and experimentation, opening us up to receiving all the good we could ever dream of.
So here's what I want you to do, I want you to think of one thing that you wanted to do but the fear of failure has been holding you back. Then begin to get curious and think about what if? What if I use whatever results I get as just feedback? Feedback to do better, to grow stronger. To expand and progress.
Then email me at [email protected] and tell me how that changes the way you feel!
Thanks so much for listening and I’ll catch you in the next episode!
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