In a recent TED talk, best-selling author Karen Thompson Walker gave an insightful presentation on fear. What stuck in my mind was a simple comparison that she made. She encouraged the audience to think of fear in a new way. She asked them to think of fear as an “amazing act of the imagination.” She asked them to think of fear as nothing more than a story of one potential outcome among many.
I love this! All of us find ourselves in situations where fear rises up within us. But what would happen if you re-imagined the storyline that your fear is trying to convince you of and adopted a different posture? How many outcomes would be changed if you approached each situation from a different starting stance?
This isn’t some form of hocus-pocus or hypnotherapy. Fear is telling you a story of an event that is unrealized. It hasn’t happened yet, but everything inside of you is coming to a stop because you’re buying in to the story that fear is telling you. What if, in those moments, you paused and allowed a different part of you to tell a different story? A story where the outcome was good, exciting, and worthwhile. Would you be more willing to take on the hardship of the task? To have the conversation? To walk into that office and fight for your proposal?
Fear is not always unjustified. Sometimes it is a natural way that you are kept in check from doing something stupid. Many of us are still alive today because fear kicked in and we didn’t do one thing or another.
The vast majority of the time, however, you know the difference between the fear that is keeping you from doing something stupid and the fear that is keeping you from doing something amazing. In those times, the times when you are on the verge of doing something amazing, which story are you going to believe? Which unrealized outcome are you going to pursue?
As you lead, you will have to navigate through many variables. Most of your decisions will impact not only you, but also the lives of your team. Take the time necessary to be able to make your decisions from the proper perspective. When presenting a scary idea, get the buy-in from your team. Let them know the vision you have for the success that your idea can bring.
I hope you find yourself doing amazing things. If you would like to share some of the amazing things you have done because you refused to believe the story that your fear was telling you, share them below. I’d love to hear about them.