Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Are You Afraid?

Michael was afraid.  Actually, he was terrified!

  A few years ago he had a thriving consulting business, so he assumed things would always be good.  He was so busy working with his clients that he decided he no longer needed to actively market his services.

However, when the recession hit, his clients disappeared, and soon he was struggling to pay his bills.  Because of this Michael was experiencing a paralyzing fear, and was having trouble thinking about what to do to move ahead.  His fear had stopped him in his tracks.  He knew there were several things he could do to start reaching his clients, but his fear had become so big that he was having trouble moving past it.

Michael is not alone.  Fear is something we all experience when facing a new situation or feeling threatened in some way.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a business fear like Michael’s, or a fear about something in your personal life, you can find it paralyzing.   If you allow it to, fear has the power to control your thoughts and behavior, and interfere with your ability to be effective, successful, happy, and healthy.

Fear is actually a thought process that results from negative self-talk about the situation and your ability to cope. When confronted with a challenge, people often focus on the worst that can happen, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When we feel fear we often magnify our inadequacies, former failures, and inability to function or cope. It just builds from there.

Fear, and the resulting anxiety, can trigger physical symptoms and bodily responses. Common physical reactions to anxiety include shortness of breath, sweaty palms, inability to hear think or focus, increased heart rate, distractability, and depression.

The problem with fear is that it lurks in the back of your mind. Then, at unexpected times, when you are feeling vulnerable, it surfaces, grips your thoughts, and directs or dictates your behaviors.  Michael was having a difficult time looking at his fear because it brought up painful emotions and reminded him that he is vulnerable and not always in control. Things he didn’t want to look at.

The good news about fear is that you can confront it, and once you do, it will no longer control you. Fear only has power over you when you run from it. The faster you run and the more effort you put into ignoring whatever is frightening you, the stronger and more powerful it will become.  The goal is to turn down the intensity of the fear so you can begin to think clearly and see ways through it.

This often takes courage, self-awareness, strong self-esteem and creating a feeling of personal power.  Michael decided he could do this.

Together we looked at several things Michael could do to overcome his fear:

·        Look directly at and confront his fear. Be honest with himself about it all.
·        Pay attention to what he was telling himself (his self-talk) that fed the fear.
·         Be clear about what was so terrifying and what he thought would happen, and ask himself “how true is this?”
·        Ask himself what is the worst that could happen?  Could I physically survive this?
·        Change the focus from the negative, what he can’t do and the fear, to the positive, what he wants, and what he CAN do to achieve his goals.
·        Realize that when he changes the way he thinks and talks to himself, he will change the way he acts
·        Focus on what he wants to happen and develop a clear picture of this.
·        Get back into control by figuring out what he needs to do to move ahead.
·        Break it down into steps and take action.
·        Visualize himself moving ahead and seeing his end goal as accomplished.

Michael soon realized that what he had created with his imagination was much worse than the reality, and that even if the worst did happen and he lost his business, he is a smart, capable, competent person who will always be able to find ways to survive and rebuild.

Once Michael stopped running, changed his self-talk and faced his fear, it lost its power to intimidate and paralyze him.  This allowed him to clear his head and begin to strategize ways to ramp up his marketing and move ahead.

He began to create an action plan that included updating his old marketing plan; rejoining networking groups to renew former connections; contacting civic organizations about speaking engagements, and visualizing where he wants to be six months from now.

With this strategy in place he once again felt powerful and in control of his destiny, and his business began to grow.

Although this article is about business, the same thing applies to all aspects in your life.  What you tell yourself will create your reality!  If you believe you CAN, then you CAN, and if you tell yourself you can’t, then your fear will control you and you will be stopped in your tracks.

So, what do you do when you’re afraid?  Do you tell yourself this is the end of the world and you’re powerless to change it?  Do you let the fear stop and paralyze you, or do you confront it, tell yourself you can do it, take back your power and move through it, and move ahead?

It’s something to think about.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do You Try?

My friend Sam is frustrated because he seldom accomplishes his goals.  When he talks about what he plans to do, he says, “I’ll try to get it done.”  When he talks about why something didn’t work out, he always says, “Well, I tried to make it happen, and it just didn’t.”

When Sam shared these thoughts he gave me the clue to why he is stuck.  He “tries”.

As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Do or do not.  There is no try.

When I brought this up with Sam he was not sure what I was talking about.  He always thought he was supposed to “try”.  Aren’t we supposed to try to get things done or make things happen?

Actually, no!  If you really want something, you don’t “try” to make it happen, you DO IT!  “Try” implies that it might not work out the way you want, and you will be OK with that.

When Sam says he’ll “try”, he has already given himself permission to slack off and fail.  “Try” implies he’ll make an effort, but that not achieving his goal is an acceptable possibility.

“Try” also implies a lack of commitment.  There is a reason that in most marriage ceremonies the bride and groom say vows that state a pledge to each other, followed by “I do.”  Would you want to marry someone who responded to a lifelong commitment with “I’ll try”?

Sam said that when he talks with potential clients he often uses the word “try”.  He now sees that his phrasing conveys a lack of confidence in himself, which then translates into a lack of confidence on the part of his client.  When he uses the word “try”, his clients interpret it to mean he’s not fully committed to a positive outcome for their project.  This is probably one of the reasons he’s having trouble signing new clients.

He realized that he would never want to go to a brain surgeon who said, “I’ll try”.  For him to place his confidence in her, she would have to show him she believes in herself, and knows she can create a successful outcome.  There is no room for “try” in brain surgery.

Now before Sam talks with people, he makes a commitment to himself and his ability to do the job.  He then conveys this commitment and confidence by saying, “I CAN” and  “I WILL”.  Very different than, “I’ll try.”

It’s something to think about.

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Letting Go to Grow

 Last week I was talking with my friend Steven, who asked me to help him streamline his office procedures. One of the chores that requires much of his time is his bookkeeping, which he does by hand! He said that its time consuming, but works for him because he knows how to do it this way and feels comfortable with it.

Steven’s father initiated this accounting method when he opened the business 30 years ago, and since then they’ve ‘always done it this way’.  In the early days they were a small company with only 4 employees, and this was the best way available to keep track of finances.  When Steven took over 5 years ago, the firm employed 52 people, and they were still doing finances by hand!

Steven revealed that he’d thought about switching to a computer accounting program because he knows it will save time, give him access to all kinds of reports and tax information, and streamline his entire bookkeeping operation.  However, he was having trouble letting go of how it had always been done.

Is This You?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?  Are there areas in your business or personal life where you are still doing things as they’ve always been done, even though it’s no longer efficient?  Places where it’s probably time to make changes and grow, but for some reason you’re reluctant to actually do it?  If so, you are definitely not alone.  There are many reasons why people are hesitant to let go of doing things the way they have always done them.

Comfort Zone
One of the main reasons is that doing something the way you’ve always done it keeps you in your comfort zone.  Your comfort zone is a very nice place in which you are a capable, competent person who understands what is going on and feels in control of it all.  It’s a pleasant, cozy, safe place to be.  Why would you want to let go of that?

However, the down side of your comfort zone is that it keeps you stuck and stops your personal and professional growth.  It reinforces using procedures that may be outdated or inefficient, and makes your business vulnerable to your competition.  It is also a boring place to be, and robs you of the opportunity to grow, learn new things and become the best you can be.

Fear of Change
Another reason people stay in their comfort zone is the fear of change. Change often represents uncertainty, and the unknown is a scary place.  It’s a place where, for a time, you feel inadequate and confused instead of competent and capable.  There is also the fear that you may not be smart, good or clever enough to master the new thing.

Many people spend their lives doing everything they can to avoid fear.  However, the reality is that every change, anything new, will involve some fear.  The way to deal with fear is to confront and move through it.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.

From Master to Novice
Another part of change is that you go from being a master at something to being a novice.  When something is new you begin the learning curve all over again.  In this situation the fear of not being able to master the new thing is often very present and can be a huge deterrent to making a change.

When you look at your life you can see that you’ve already mastered this process many times. As a child you probably moved through the school system, which is set up so children reach a level of mastery and then become novices again. You started elementary school in kindergarten, new to the idea of school.  You learned and adapted to the process and place, to the point where you were comfortable and proficient in functioning within the system. Then you moved to junior high school, with a whole new set of rules and systems, and were suddenly a novice again. You learned and grew into junior high, and then repeated the process again when moving to high school, college, into a job, etc.  With each step you expanded your comfort zone. A process that was initially uncomfortable but eventually empowering.  Stretching your comfort zone is one way you learn you are a capable competent person.

In Steven’s case, in order to update his accounting he will have to go from being totally proficient with the system, to being new and temporarily confused.  From being the person who knows how to handle it all to being the person who has to rely on others while he’s in the learning process.  Growth always involves a period of being new, and new is always uncomfortable.

Why Have We Always Done it That Way?
Have you asked yourself why it’s always been done that way?  Often systems are implemented because they are the best available at the time.  However, as time passes and new ways of doing things are created, what was once state-of-the-art may become outdated and inefficient.

For example, when I was a child I would stand holding the refrigerator door open while deciding on a snack.  My mother would always tell me to close the door because all the cold air was escaping.  Since she did that with me, I did the same with my children (we’d always done it that way).  Until one day my son asked “why”?  He pointed out that the refrigerator was electric and constantly made more cold air, so it escaping wasn’t really a problem. Of course, he was right! I’d never thought about why I was delivering this message, so I asked my mother where it came from.  She said that her mother always said it to her, so she believed it and passed it along.  However, when my mother was a small child, refrigerators were actual ice boxes, which were cooled by large blocks of ice.  When the door was opened the ice melted faster and they really did run out of cold air.  When my grandmother told her children to close the door, it was the right message for the situation.  As the message was passed on from generation to generation, the situation changed and the fridge no longer ran out of cold air.  However, nobody looked at the reason for the message.  We just kept doing it as we’d always done it.

In Steven’s case the accounting system his father implemented was right for the time, but changes in technology have refined the most effective way to track finances.  It’s important to understand why the system was created, what need it was designed to fill.  Look at it and see if it is still the most efficient way to fill this need, or if a more effective way is now available.  This applies to how you run your personal as well as your business life.

How Do You Know You're Stuck?
Sometimes you may not consciously realize that you are stuck and that it’s time to make a change. When something becomes a struggle, takes too much time, or feels like a huge chore, it may be an indication that you are doing it the way it’s always been done rather than the most efficient and effective way.  You can often identify what may have outlived its usefulness by noting the things that are difficult, and asking yourself why you do them the way you do.

What to Do 
Once you have identified things that may need a change, ask yourself:
·        Where did this procedure originate?
·        What was its original purpose?
·        Does this still apply?
·        Is there an easier way to accomplish the same goal?
·        What are the consequences of continuing to do things the way we’ve always done them?
·        What will be the results of implementing a new process?
·        What is stopping me from implementing this new process?
·        What will I do about this?
(For a free worksheet on looking at WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY go to our website at and click on Resources.)

Once you've answered these questions it’s time to move. Change the procedure, buy and learn the new program, delegate to whomever can do the job, or completely let go of whatever no longer applies.

After going through this process Steven decided to take a leap of faith and implement a computer accounting program for his business.  He expanded his personal and business comfort zone by hiring a professional to help him become proficient in the new software.  He endured a brief period of feeling totally lost, and soon became as skilled with the new system as he was with the old.  The new system has accomplished his goal of streamlining his accounting and providing him with more time to focus on other aspects of his business. Steven has also renewed his sense of being even more empowered, capable and competent.

So I ask you, where in your life do you feel stuck or that you’re doing something just because it’s always been done that way?  What things might need to change, but you are hesitant because you’re fearful of where it will take you?  What would you like to do about it?

Please comment so others may benefit from your wisdom and experience

For FREE worksheets on ways to empower yourself, see the Resources Page on our Inside Jobs Coach website.

If you'd like to bring positive changes into your life, we have the perfect thing for you.  Check out The Rapid Power Pack, and begin to create the life of your dreams.