Fear can be your greatest asset and largest barrier to your personal and professional growth. The difference is knowing when to let your fears stop you or to let them help get you started.
We all have fears. Science tells us we will always be afraid and anxious because our brains are always keeping an eye out for dangers. It’s the old programming of eat or be eaten. So, there is no escaping the feeling. Having our brain protect us from potential harm by signaling physical danger is still useful and relevant. However, since fear is a state of mind, it is often perceived as threats in other debilitating ways.
For some of us, each day, we fear non-life-threatening events such as the fears of flying, heights, water, public speaking, or going on a job interview. Butterflies in your stomach can also represent fear instead of excitement. They may appear during life changes, such as getting married, having children, moving or changing careers. When we permit these fears to escalate, they stop us from participating fully in our life.
It was 35 years since I had performed or sang a tune. The night before my first rock ‘n’ roll band performance, I didn’t sleep. I was physically sick to my stomach because I was so afraid. What if I can’t remember the songs; hit the wrong notes; fall off the stage; embarrass myself; get heckled; let down my band members; and make them look bad. As Lady Gaga sings “I had a hundred million reasons to walk away, but baby I just need one good one to stay.” I definitely had one good reason to get on stage, and it was my intuition and my heart yearned to perform and express myself through music again.
This fear I experienced told me that I was on the edge of my comfort zone. It forced me to decide whether I was going to move forward and get on stage or stay home. I chose the stage. To get there, I envisioned the absolute worst thing that could happen. For me, it was being booed off stage by an angry crowd. Once I identified that outcome, I then had to decide whether I could live through it and live with it. The answer was, “Yes!” I knew I would be humiliated for a little while, but I would not die. Hello, Stage, Here I Come!
You’re Never Going to Be Really Ready
The greatest lesson through all of this was that I was never going to FEEL perfectly ready to do something I feared. No amount of practicing would make me feel ready to perform on stage. I just had to go for it. I had to stop waiting. I chose to allow myself to learn from my failures and celebrate my successes. The result: I sang some sour notes and I sang the wrong parts of songs. But I sang my heart out for four hours, and I had the time of my life!
That night, again, I didn’t sleep. This time, it was because I was so hopped up on an indescribable high! I couldn’t wait to do it again because I knew that I now had confidence. I developed strength where there was none before.
Are you avoiding something because you’re not “ready” for the change or because it scares you. Stop worrying. You are only creating a bigger mental barrier and internal block for yourself. It’s been said that everything you ever wanted may be on the other side of fear. “GoGaGa and Unleash Your Inner Superstar!”