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Sententia The Problem with the  Word

The Problem with the F Word

adult learning behavioral science corporate training Oct 11, 2022

by Monica Cornetti
President, Sententia Inc

Have you ever thought about the gap between where you are and where you want to be? How big is that gap? 

Have you discovered what that gap is? Typically, it’s the risk you haven't taken.

What keeps you from crossing that gap? It’s that 4-letter F Word. The unmentionable. The one we don’t use in polite company. You know it… F-E-A-R.

We all have to take risks to get to the next level, but then FEAR kicks-in and like a rubber band pulls you right back to your comfort zone. Unfortunately, inside the comfort zone there is no room for courage, boldness, or passion.

FEAR is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It keeps you from taking intelligent risks that help you achieve your desired state and instead - it follows a patterned cycle to fulfill that which you feared.

Let me show you what I mean... let's walk through the fear cycle together.

Phase one is an imagined consequence. You imagine the situation turning positively catastrophic. Before my first keynote, I saw myself tripping up the steps to the stage, sprawled out spread eagle, in a skirt no less!

You turn the situation into an absolute calamity where the worst possible consequences are imagined. Since the negative thoughts are flowing you lose your perspective. The more ambiguous or uncertain you are in that setting the more room there is for negative thinking.

Remember when you were a kid lying in your bed at night and the things in the shadows weren't clear and everything became scary. Even to this day my sister won't sleep with either her hands or her feet hanging over the edge of the bed because of the fear of the monster under the bed. She's over 60 years old and she still can't have her feet or hands over the bed. It’s just one of those things. In an uncertain situation, that same kind of imagined monster happens.

Phase two kicks in and distorts your perspective. You’ve heard of people who wear rose-colored glasses so that everything looks beautiful through those lenses. Fear is like that only with the opposite effect. Instead of rose-colored glasses you look through gray or dark lenses that distort what you see and make everything worse than it is.

Years ago I was hired by a client to write a webinar - the first time I had ever done that for a client. The topic was a real stretch for me, and I put extra hours into research and content writing. When the first draft of the script came back to me with suggested edits I immediately thought, “Oh my, you can’t make this happen. You don't measure up. You’ve disappointed them. You can’t write this webinar! What were you thinking?”

The script weighed 200 lbs. in my hands. I dropped it on my kitchen counter and just walked away. Then after about 30 minutes I came back and read through their notes once again and realized the changes they were asking for were minimal. Just a little more thought, a little more effort to get it to the level it needed to be.

Phase three -  the body signals start coming -- physical responses to fear such as, shortness of breath, dry mouth, shaking hands, and butterflies.
When you are looking through the gray and dingy glasses of fear, it distorts reality, and you see and hear the very things that you are trying to avoid.

When I read the revision notes the first time, I failed to see the dozen comments that said “Oh this is great.” “Love this analogy.” “This is wonderful, great way to expand that.” I didn't see those. I only saw comments like “Give me an example here.” Or “Let's expand this a little more.” These are not negative comments, but fear and gray-colored glasses distorted them. 

When we are in this fear state, procrastination is a common response. Somewhere in your head is the hope that if you put off what seems too hard or too scary it will go away or get easier. Then we use excuses like this: “I do my best work under pressure. When the deadline is there that is when the creativity flows, that's when I do my best work.”

And you and I know that is just nonsense. What we mean is that we finally have to do the work. It is finally the absolute deadline and there is no choice.

When you are in that do-or-die mode it is not the place for high performance. You can't concentrate, you don't think straight, you lose all hope of creativity. Fear will compromise your performance, and it is at that point that you enter the final phase of fear which is concrete confirmation of what you were afraid of.

And there you have it, the fear of failing caused old habits like procrastination to kick in. Your behaviors set you up to fail. You did it—you fulfilled the prophecy.

We ALL have fears... in my next post, we'll explore options to dispel fear and limiting beliefs, and how to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

In the meantime, feel free to share your discoveries and solutions for solving the problem with that pesky F word.

To understand how to recognize fear BEFORE it kicks in and takes control, why not discover what can happen when you begin to think outside the BX. Learn what your BX  looks like, feels like, and acts like in our NEWEST program Thinking In & Out of the BX. We guarantee to change your ability to think and act and conquer the F Word.

Whether you’re interested in preparing for a management role or already lead a team or organization, you’ll come away better equipped to confidently tackle any decision large or small, make a compelling analysis, and apply influence in a way that creates the optimal conditions for success.

Register TODAY for Thinking In & Out of the BX

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