Recently, I came across an interesting Ted talk titled “Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals.” The main argument the speaker is trying to convey is ‘You are afraid. Embrace it. However, you can overcome it if you define what it actually is.’
It was very interesting to me because I recently noticed that I become very shy when talking to some people at work, especially some decision makers. I wanted to have more open discussions, develop ideas, and achieve more, but I had some unknown fears that prevent me from doing it. I set New Year’s resolutions to be more communicative and talk to those people more fearlessly, but the first step towards it was not easy. When I saw this Ted Talk, I realized what I was missing: defining my fear. What the hell is it actually?
So, I took some time and followed his suggestion to answer some questions he provided. Here is my exercise.
What is my fear?
Talking to some people in the leadership group
What if I …?
- Define: what are the nightmares I imagine?
- What if I can’t answer their questions? I am not a fast thinker.
- What if their reaction is lukewarm when I throw an unshaped idea? What if they say “So what? Make actual progress instead of just throwing ideas.”
- What if I can’t express my thoughts well in English and have an embarrassing moment? What if they think I can’t elaborate my thoughts properly in English?
- What if I make a promise that can’t accomplish? What if I fail to get it done and get fired because of that?
- Prevent: How can I prevent those outcomes from happening?
- I can try to be more prepared for the topic before talking. Spending little time to organize my thoughts, but not too much.
- I can practice English and try to be more skillful at expressing my thoughts.
- Repair: How can I fix the problems if they happen?
- If I can’t answer the questions, I can always say I will get back to them after doing some research.
- If their reactions are lukewarm, I can still stick to the planning and focus on developing the idea.
- If they think the idea is premature, I can develop it more. I spend more time on it.
- If I feel like I can’t achieve the goal on time, I can always ask for a help from somebody. I can also contact experts and freelancers.
- If I get fired, I can always get a new job. I can contact people and recruiters.
What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?
- I can develop the original idea to a better one by having more free discussions and brainstorming with others. If I don’t discuss at all, the idea will be just abandoned.
- I can achieve more by making it a real plan rather than just an idea in my mind.
- I will be a more expert by filling out the knowledge gap that found during the discussion and while doing research.
- If I can succeed, I get ask for a salary raise.
- I can get the perception that I am a proactive worker and work fearlessly.
- People will feel comfortable talking to me because they know I am comfortable.
- Even if it is a total failure, I can still develop my English skills in the process.
The cost of Inaction (emotionally, physically, financially, etc.)
- 6 months
- Leadership group will think I am not doing my work even though I have a lot going from on my end
- I might get feedback that I am too shy or not confident enough
- I might get a bad performance review
- 1 year
- I might get fired due to not making enough progress
- I would feel more afraid of talking or sharing my thoughts
- 3 years
- It will be harder to get hired if I have a poor review
- Might not be able to pay my rent
Well, now, I feel little embarrassed after sharing my fear. However, isn’t sharing my fear a great way to overcome it? 🙂