• Eve Arnold

Touch the Fear and Do it Anyway

I used to overthink every decision. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, it got quite ridiculous at one point, to the point where it would take me literally ten minutes to decide what sandwich I wanted for lunch. I’d stroll up to the place where I thought I wanted to have a sandwich, Greggs, and ponder the options. I’d think ‘yeah they’re okay, but I could probably get something cheaper and tastier from Subway’. Over to Subway I went, I rock up and the smell of freshly baked subs filled my nostrils. Yes Subway, I’ve nailed it. I Open the door, the queue was huge. Even if Subway is delicious, it’s not worth the queuing. Back to Greggs I went, back to ponder over the same sandwich choices I wasn’t sure about ten minutes ago. Hunger would start to set in and now the overwhelming feeling is frustration. Why can’t I just make a decision. Greggs don’t have anything I want and I don’t want to wait in the Subway queue. So I walk ten minutes to the nearest corner shop. Underwhelmed by the quality of the sandwich selection, similar to Greggs and the queue was just as long as Subway, I settled. I’m not walking all the way back. The sandwich wasn’t what I wanted. I’m now pissed off because I’ve just reaffirmed that I’m shit at making decisions (a fact that really annoys me) and I’m actually now past the point of hunger and tipping into just pure annoyance, enough to ruin the day.

Fast forward to now, I’ve got broccoli soup in the fridge for lunch so I don’t have to go to the shop. Just kidding, well I have but I can go to the shop and not ponder over every element of every decision.

Every big decision in my life I’ve felt some sort of fear or feeling of ‘not sure’ but I just did it anyway. I think the point I’m hopelessly making is that fear part of the decision making process, it’s not a reason to not make a decision. It’s a prerequisite. No doubt every decision, if not every important decision in your life, you will feel some sort of fear. In the work sense, the fear of presenting, fear of asking a question and not sounding stupid… the fear of asking in general. All these decisions are laced with fear but that is because they feel important to you, it’s not a reason to not do them. I get it all the time, in meetings, less so than I used to but I definitely still get it. I want to say something, I rehearse it in my head so I don’t fumble over my words and then when it comes round, someone will ask: “anyone got anything else to add?” … I’m mentally telling myself ‘go on then… say it’ and I’ll shake my head! Even though I’ve got a well versed, probably fairly valid point or question, I keep quiet. I then sit in awe of all those people that just openly ask, ask, ask. I even get confidence from them because sometimes they even ask the question that I thought was stupid and they seem to get a good response. Okay I think, next time there is an opportunity I’ll speak up.

And then I don’t.

But more often than not I’m starting to realise that just having an opinion counts. It’s not as black and white as school anymore, work is more about telling a story, to allow people to see your point of view. You can’t tell the story if you’re too scared to speak up. So my advice? because just having an opinion counts (remember); when you get that little sense of worrying or fear or whatever you want to call it, acknowledge it and say whatever you wanted to say anyway. There are a number of reasons why you should. First of all, your opinion counts, no matter what you think of yourself, it does. Second, you most likely will be asking something that most of the room is equally too scared to say. Thirdly, if all else fails, no-one will remember what you say anyway. I don’t mean that to sound harsh as if it people are being ignorant… it’s just human nature. Go on think about it. Think back to your last meeting or the last opportunity where people asked questions… can you remember any of the questions they asked? That’s because most people’s voices in their heads are concentrated on themselves, not you. So they won’t remember what you say, what they may remember is how you made them feel, which if you speak up will be something like ‘Jesus, great question, I wish I was that confident’.

Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on February 22, 2020.

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