Shaking Off Fear On Your Feet

Breaking into something new can start off a little rocky. As it’s unfamiliar, you struggle to find your footing and sometimes cast about wildly in the process. I was teaching a class recently that wasn’t totally in my wheelhouse, I knew something about my subject, but I had never specifically taught it before and in this case I was being asked to teach it to a team that already had competence in this area.  I wasn’t at all sure where to start and wondered what new things I could show them.

When I am about to do something that I’m a little unsure about, and maybe slightly intimidated by, I tend to do two things: 

  1. Procrastinate (more than usual). In my avoidance, I tell myself that it’s an important part of the creative process to ruminate on an idea by actively avoiding it…

  2. Not rehearse enough – mainly because I don’t know what the plan is, and my worry about whether anything I come up with will work gets in the way of me actually working on it. (See point number 1).

Nonetheless the show must go on and I arrive at the event. The session kicks off with a bang and then I get to that part I’m unsure about. Instead of continuing to roll out my plan, my inner-critic gets involved. I find myself thinking, hmmm I wonder if I should have prepared a little better for this.  This kicks off a wave of panic and then, I start behaving like Fred Flintstone winding up his feet before he actually gets the car moving.

I start making things up in the room and since I haven’t planned to do them, I haven’t thought through how to set them up properly.  Subsequently I give out bad instructions, which leads to chaos and confusion.  It’s neither subtle nor pretty, but we limp through to the end.  My fear on my feet shows up in the evaluations: “I wasn’t sure where she was taking us, but I guess it worked out okay.” Uh yah. Gotcha. I wasn’t sure either.

The most effective way to manage my fear on my feet isn’t to make things up randomly, but rather to send everyone off on a break.  Then find and connect with my sponsor to see how they’d like to use the rest of our time together. Asking a question gives your brain time to mash up their expectations with what you had planned, and often you arrive at an awesome solution. It’s not a question like “How’s it going?” (which I think is more about “How do you think I’m doing?”), but rather a question like my friend Benny recently asked a group, “If you were to leave absolutely thrilled with your experience here, what would have happened?”

 While this is definitely a better question for the start of an engagement, it’s never too late to ask.  Asking opens up the dialogue, and allows you to adjust your plan towards a more open experience.

In a world filled with answers, powerful questions hold the key to the new room you are walking into. 

 If you were to leave absolutely thrilled with your experience here, what would have happened?

See if this question helps raise you out of your fear and open the window for your Creative Genius to step in.



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