The other day at a family outing I observed Alina, my fearless four year old niece, who thinks all things are possible. The group gathered together to help a friend move. Alina takes any challenge seriously. First she assessed the situation to understand the process. After contemplating for a few moments, she strode up to the burly guys moving large boxes off the truck and in a voice bigger than her small stature commanded, “Give me some of that stuff. I can handle it.”
Not all of us have the self-confidence of a four year old. I asked Barbara, a successful consultant at Nerium International, who serves with me on the board of the American Business Women’s Association , if her courage to confront daunting goals came naturally. With a wise smile, she shared her story with me. As an extremely shy child, Barb found it difficult be assertive as a young adult. Instinctively, she knew in order to overcome shyness, she needed to challenge herself by creating a scenario that forced her to engage with strangers.
Barb’s solution was to apply for a position in sales with a consumer credit reporting company requiring her to call on prospective clients including banks, and credit unions. Her job was to visit a potential client, introduce herself, connect with the management and determine if the company she represented could provide their services. Often the job required Barbara to make a presentation to the client’s employees.
Barb’s plan worked. Knowing that assertiveness was part of the job description forced her to accomplish something very scary or face termination. Without the conditional pressure to conquer her fear of shyness, Barb may have remained in her shell. By flexing that ‘assertive muscle’ everyday, she gained increased confidence. As a bonus, Barb became a competent speaker. My friend admits to getting a few butterflies before speaking to a group, but she has learned how to move through her fear and deliver an impactful seminar.
Someone once said, “Fears are like annoying relatives. Ignoring them will not make them go away.” Facing your fear head on as Barbara did is a viable way to deal with those demons who make your heart race and your palms sweaty. Successful individuals like Barb know that forcing yourself to take on a challenge is the pathway to eliminating barriers.
Dr. Phil McGraw, psychologist and American television personality points out although many different types of fears exist, the common denominator is one phobia: the fear of either losing control or being out of control. Many of us fear that if we step out of our comfort zone we may lose control. That phobia prevents us from accomplishing our goals.
Take a moment to focus on your worse fear. Select one that serves as a roadblock to realizing your dreams. Perhaps you feel deserving of a promotion but you lack the courage to approach your boss. Maybe you are interested in community theater but are too timid to sign up for try-outs. Whatever it is, know that the worst case scenario, like your boss laughing you out of her office will probably not occur. And if it did, it might trigger the impetus you need to find a company where your work would be valued and appreciated.
So, muster up little courage like Barbara and make a plan. Borrow a little moxie from your four-year old inner child and know all things truly are possible. Just take a deep breath, and initiate the first step. Once you realize the power in confronting those debilitating doubts, your confidence will soar and eventually your dreams become reality.