Thinking Aloud
Tuesday, July 6, 2004 VOLUME 1 ISSUE 16  
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Six Strategies for Facing Fear
Ask Liz
An Example of How to Close the Deal: Finding Funding for a Start-Up
WorldWIT Launches New Site – Have You Visited Us Lately?
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Managing and Conquering the Fear Within by Pam Thomas
The Last One to Start Running by Liz Ryan
The Heart Of The Matter by Bren Norris
Evaluating People by David W. Thompson, Ph.D.
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Featured WorldWIT Radio Show Guest: Candy Haynes
Candy Haynes is the US Director of Learning for Deloitte’s consulting practice.  In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and delivery of state of the art learning content for over 7,000 US practitioners. She talks with WorldWIT CEO and Founder Liz Ryan about her career path, the role of e-learning at Deloitte and a learning program (Socratic Arts) for bringing new recruits into the field and up to speed.
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Six Strategies for Facing Fear
by Gail Sussman Miller

Pam Thomas inspired me this week when she asked WorldWIT members a great question, "How do you stare fear in the face and move beyond it?" As I replied, an article was born! 
 
I am a personal and business coach and speaker in Chicago (and a member of ChicWIT). Fear is the number one reason the entrepreneurial women I work with get stuck, procrastinate, avoid risks, and delay acting on a bigger, more fulfilling vision for their life. Heck, fear can stop us from even dreaming of what we really want! The following strategies have been road tested by my clients and me. See what works for you! 
 
I’ll start with me. My fears can range from simple procrastination, like making a “cold call” or going to the doctor’s office, OR it can be the gut wrenching stuff, like my fear of heights, worse as I get older… it is so visceral.  In those cases, it’s just easier, if possible, to avoid wall-to-wall windows like we have in the observatory on the top of Sears Tower. 
 
The following strategies are in no particular order.  Sometimes you’ll need to try more than one. As an example below, I use my own nervousness (a variation on fear) that comes up before I speak in the workshops I lead on how to overcome obstacles and learn to love networking.
 
Strategies to Face and Move through Fear
1.      Find out what the fear behind the fear is!  Even though I love speaking and teaching, I sometimes feel fear about speaking to an audience I *allow* myself to judge as intimidating, or I think they know more than I do and are critical.  It’s all a matter of perception, of course. The fear behind the fear, often the root of most performance fears, is "I'm not good enough" or "They won't like me."  Identifying the true fear creates awareness, the first step in creating change.
 
2.      Ask "what is REALLY true?"  I love the “fear acronym” I once read, F.E.A.R. This stands for False Expectations Appearing Real.  It’s a great reminder that our minds think the threat is real.  If I ask myself what is REALLY true, then, as with speaking, I can admit that I am good enough, know enough – maybe more than my audience.  The truth is I am capable of speaking in front of anyone  when I’m in my most confident personal power. 
 
3.      Play the “what if” game.  This is a close cousin to the ever popular, "What is the worst that could happen?"  To play the game, ask yourself “What if my fear happens, then what? And what if THAT happens, then what?”  By the time you follow this path a few times, the possible outcomes start to seem preposterous and the real risk is put into a new, less threatening perspective.  You also start to calmly prepare for reasonable unexpected events.
 
4.      Make sure you are spiritually and emotionally grounded.  For each successively more challenging workshop audience or topic, I find when fear has me rattled; I am scattered and need grounding.  I use deep breathing and positive present-tense affirmations to get myself centered and calm.  I return to my confident state of mind by reviewing my successes and my belief in myself no matter WHAT happens.
 
5.      Ask for help.  Turn to someone you trust, with whom you feel safe, who you know cares about you and ask them to go with you to the event you fear; doctor’s office, new singles’ bar, or networking event. Before speaking, I used to have a friend attend and help me prepare. I state my fear out loud to them. This actually releases you from its power and sometimes the shame you feel.  If the fear is really strong, I've used a body/mind/spirit technique of literally handing the fear to this person.  I "take" it out of my chest or stomach and place it in the palm of their hands.  I ask them to throw it out of the window or put it in the trash.  It’s usually your inner child that is afraid, not your adult.  As my confidence and success increased, I no longer needed this help, and I now have that “conversation” with myself.
 
6.      Go to the ROAR!  Here is a great story about lions and a lesson taught to us by Mother Nature.  Lions love to eat gazelle meat; however, it is very difficult for them to catch them because they run so fast.  Instead, a group of young lions herd the gazelles in away from them.  The gazelles easily outrun the lions and head off in the direction the lions have chosen, which is unknowingly towards a deep grassy area where a group of older lions are hiding. The older lions are too old and tired to be part of the chase; many are missing teeth, and would never be able to catch their own meat.   When the gazelles are driven within close range of the older lions, they jump up and ROAR loudly.  Immediately, the gazelles, responding to their perceived fear of imminent death, turn and run in the opposite direction, right into the mouths of the young lions. 
 
The moral is that running from your fears and not facing them can often lead you into real danger and worse outcomes.  In day-to-day life, the lions lying in wait may not be life threatening, but they are often false fears.   Running away may mean we remain stuck and unhappy for a long time or until we face and move through our fear.  The slogan or battle cry message of this story is "Go TO the Roar!"  
 
In summary, acknowledging and facing your fear may actually mean a better chance of survival.  It is nearly *always* an opportunity to grow, learn, and improve your confidence and success.  You increase your tolerance of risk and your ability to move through your fears better the next time.
 
 
Gail Sussman Miller ~ g
ail.sussman.miller@onebox.com ~ 773-477-4012 (Chicago)

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