This blog post has been mulling around in my head since Easter. Not because I’m scared of egg-wielding bunnies, but because on the Easter weekend, I faced 3 scenarios that scared me, and I reacted quite differently to each. It got me thinking about the impact fear has on our behaviour and what it either compels us to do or stops us in our tracks, specifically in the context of everyday business.
I read somewhere that there are 3 possible natural human responses to fear: Fight; Flight or Freeze.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced all three of these responses when faced with scary situations and I’m interested to see if we can change our default responses.
Let me explain a few scenarios that scared me over the Easter weekend and how I responded.
So The Hubs, The Pup and I went away for Easter weekend to a lovely little spot in the Cedarberg area, along with my folks. The accommodation was basic but the surrounding scenery more than compensated for any lack of luxuries. We did long walks, lazing about and drank far too much wine, as one does when on a mini-vacay.
Scary Easter Scenario Number 1:
As it happened, the farm that we were staying at, was also the chosen site for high wire walkers who were taking part in a tight-rope walking festival that same weekend. Imagine a group of drum-circle type hippies prancing around on a line no wider than their foot. It gave me the heebie-jeebies just watching them, and at the same time I had the utmost respect for these people. They take fear by the balls, dangle it high above the ground, then walk across it!
On one of the days, I left The Hubs and The Pup at our ‘cabin’ and headed off for a walk with the old folks. We found the path that lead up to the sheer-drop rock face that was adorned with several tight ropes. As we walked up the path we’d stop every few steps to cast our eyes skyward and watch in awe as the bohemian folk tip-toed along the lines, flailing their outstretched arms back and forth above their heads.
Every so often, our stomachs would land up in our throats as the crack of the ropes snapped them back from their potential demise when they loose their footing. Invigorating to watch!
We got to a point on the trail that required us to navigate up the sheer face of a very large rock.
And that’s when the fear set in.
My Mom was ready to make a go of it, at which point I told my Dad that I couldn’t go any further and I couldn’t watch them do it either. I was stuck. Unable to move forward, or backward. I had reruns of the Discovery Channel series ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ running through my head. I could hear myself narrating my own story, explaining how that one last step was one step to far.
Needless to say, I eventually was able to move backwards, cos here I am, safe and sound at my computer. But I was very interested that I had responded the way I had.
Scary Easter Scenario Number 2:
Each morning the sun would peek out from over the mountain, flooding the valley with the most beautiful soft light.
I had taken my camera along and was determined to do some self portraits for my personal fine art collection.
I promised myself I’d wake up and get out at sunrise to make some images. The first morning, I got up and scouted around finding just the right spots, angles and framings. Then the fear of being seen prancing around in a little dress crept up on me. What would the bohemian, drum-circle hippies think if they saw me? What would my folks think, if they saw me?
So the first morning was a dud. I gave into the fear of being seen.
My reaction plagued me for the rest of the day and I was irritated with myself. I knew that if I didn’t follow through with it the next morning, I wasn’t going to do it at all. The opportunity would be lost and I’d likely not get the chance again. That would irritate me even more!
So the next morning I gave my fear and insecurities the middle finger and went for it!
I pranced, I leapt, I froze my butt off. My folks thought I was mad. But I survived. I got the images.
My fear of not trying at all, outweighed my fear of being seen. Interesting….
Scary Easter Scenario Number 3:
There was apparently a beautiful waterfall hidden in the mountains somewhere and we left it to the last night to take a walk to find it. We set off an hour before sunset and scampered along merrily. After about 30 minutes of walking, hiking and scrambling, we found the waterfall which was well worth the effort and the sundowner we enjoyed next to it. Then we headed back to our lodge.
By this time the sun had set and we were walking in the eerie light of dusk but our spirits were high. We saw a rock formation which I’d seen on the farm’s website and we set up a family shot, as you do. Fabulous! Got the shot.
But then we realised, we’d gone off track and couldn’t find the trail we were meant to be following.
This is the stage when those reruns of ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ start up again. “It started out like any other walk, little did we know what we were headed for…”
After 5 minutes of frantic, near-panicked stumbling around in the dark (on my part at least. I had no idea what the others were doing) we finally found the trail! Hooray! Nervous laughter and light-hearted joking commenced.
Needless to say, we got back home, safe and sound and our ‘near-death experiences’ have since been given the benefit of perspective and time, making it clear that they were far less critical than they felt at the time.
Back to Reality
This is where I started wondering about the things that scare us in our normal day to day life which, while we’re in the thick of them, either freeze us into inaction, send us running in the other direction, or make us stand up to the fear and fight it.
When facing fears in life & business is your response to fight, flight or freeze?
Here’s some recent examples in my life & business…
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or the more likely scenario – you’ve never heard of me before and this is the first time you’re reading my blog (in which case, thank you), then you’ll know that I’ve recently moved into a new studio. Let me just be honest here for a second – this has scared the kak out of me!
It feels like a really big deal – the expense of the move and the setup, the increased monthly rental expense, the fact that I’m putting myself out there, and letting people know. It scares me.
What if I mess up? What if I’ve just made the worst business decision of my career? What if I don’t make it?
I’m not too proud to say that I’ve been woken in the small hours of the night with my head sending my chest into full blown cardiac arrest.
And what about the time I was nominated for the Business Women’s Association Regional Business Achiever Awards. When I got the initial email, I was like – ‘Aah, that’s nice.’ Then it sank in, and I was like ‘No way in hell! The other nominees are far more qualified and worthy of an award than me!’.
‘No way in hell! The other nominees are far more qualified and worthy of an award than me!’
Or how about the incident, just this morning! I was running late for work (my boss is a bitch!), and I couldn’t find matching socks. All I could find was two differently striped socks. How was I going to face this?
Responding to the Fear
When I look at these 3 VERY scary scenarios that I’ve had to face in my business, I’ve realised that although my first, natural response might be to freeze, fight or flight, it’s the action I’ve actually taken that makes all the difference.
… it’s the action actually taken that makes all the difference
With the studio move, I’m still nervous and I still feel scared, but the action I’ve taken is to commit to making a success of it. I’ve decided that there is no other option. I’m showing up, I’m upping my game, and the fear is driving me to out-perform my previous self.
With the BWA Achiever Award, although I still feel completely inadequate, I’ve accepted the nomination, and will be formally accepting the challenge and I’m ok with the fact that I may not get any further than the nomination process.
And with my mis-matched socks – I’m wearing them as we speak, and I’ve even accepted the challenge laid down by my friends at Pesto Princess to wear one striped, one polka dot sock tomorrow. Take that all you trendy fashion police!!
Earlier this week I read a quote about fear from one of the many motivational people that I follow online. For the life of me, I can’t quite remember the exact quote or who said it, but it goes along the lines of…
The more you face your fears, the more fearless you become. ~ From someone very smart, who I can’t remember right now.
So the whole point of this very long blog post, is to let you know, that’s it’s totally ok to feel the fear. The point is to make a decision about how you’re going to respond to that fear, and take action.
Let me know in the comments below what fears you’ve faced, whether in business or in life, what your initial response was, and how you chose to respond afterwards.