TSLS 0018 - Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.
My hands were a six on the seismic scale as I stood, naked, in front of the crowd.
I’m just kidding.
Having been out of the social scene for two months while working on new projects though, it felt that way.
I was about to do a speech in front of over 500 people, including celebrities. Y’know, just to warm myself up. (Because that was the rational thing to do after a creative break, right? Right?!) so standing in front of the podium, and on the count of three, I forced myself to stammer something out.
And there it was.
My humble sound-wave, travelling at light-speed into 500 people’s eardrums: “Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie Lennox, and I’d like to thank you all for being here today.”
I’d over thought, over-analysed and obsessed over every single word of that introduction.
I wrote, then deleted. Wrote, then deleted again. It was the simplest of introductions and still, it was terrifying. But it taught me a lot about fear and how to charge right past it.
The first thing I learnt: The thing you’re most scared of doing? The thing that’s been keeping you up at night? It’s suffocating you as we speak.
It‘s stealing your creativity, potential and motivation when you should be working with these things instead of allowing fear to drain them away.
It’s known as the Zeignarik Effect - the theory that it’s hard to move forward from an idea once you‘ve thought of it, until you completely finish it, or fully discard it. So holding space in your mind for something you’re afraid of isn’t doing you a single favour, for your mental wellbeing, your productivity, or the blossoming of new, better, future ideas. How many more is fear costing you, right in this moment?
The second thing I learnt: you don’t realise how deeply fear has imprisoned you until you try to break free.
“We are so accustomed to the comforts of ‘I cannot’, ‘I do not want to,’ and ‘it is too difficult,’ Pandora Poikilos once said, “that we forget to realise when we stop doing things for ourselves and expect others to dance around us, we are not achieving greatness. We have made ourselves weak.“
You can‘t allow yourself get into the habit of ducking and cowering and avoiding anything that seems like it might be hard for this precise reason. The more you stall on an idea, the higher the pedestal rises and the more unobtainable it seems. Walk up with your head held high, however, and you’ll see them shrink before you.
The third thing I learnt: Never forget the alternative. What is the worst-case scenario if we never face up to the things we’re scared of?
If I had chosen not to stand up and share my story with that audience, the alternative was that I’d have ended up with some of the best friends I could have ever wished for from that one speech. No one to be vulnerable with - no one to laugh with, share resources or celebrate my successes with. I might have missed the opportunity to meet the people I did, who I know will support me for life.
If I had chosen not to stand up on that day, I wouldn’t have received the thunderous applause and ovation I was destined for.
Consider your alternatives - the best outcomes, and the worst - then ask yourself:
Isn’t it worth the risk?
Over to you:
P.S. The title of this blog post is a quote from the talented Benjamin Mee.
What is that "one thing" you're afraid of doing? Declare it. Let me know in the comments below!