“I just froze! I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t move!”
“So what did you do? How did you feel?”, I asked as he let out a sigh that was filled with regret.
“I didn’t do anything; I just left feeling like crap! I’m not doing it again!”
Here I was sitting in the barber’s chair getting a haircut, and what started off as small talk as to what I do, led to something that we’ve all experienced in our lives. In the barber’s case, as a part-time DJ on the clubbing scene, even though he had performed numerous times in crowds of the hundreds, he froze this one time and hadn’t performed in front of a crowd since.
Fear: sometimes we get over it, other times it gets one over us.
As I tell in my workshops, you can never get rid of fear and by doing so, in my opinion is foolish. Rather one has to manage the fear of failure, and to do that, one must first understand why it exists.
We fear because we put value on an imagined negative result. We think that if we don’t kick goals through the goal posts we set ourselves that we will fail people’s expectations, which results in loss – loss of respect, loss of love, loss of ego. But it isn’t ourselves that we really disappoint; rather it’s the opinion of those we care about. We want validation and support from our peers, friends or family.
But guess what? This is the main step to managing that fear: we already have that validation and support.
We keep their company because there is mutual respect and support, so whatever you do, they’re right there cheering you on either loudly or silently. If you’ve done something less than stellar, they’re there to help pick you up, encourage and make you realise that you gave your best (if indeed, you truly did. If you didn’t then you need to understand why, but that’s another topic). Once you understand and fully appreciate that, then you’re on your way to get it under control.
But what if you don’t get that support and respect from your circle? Then you need to ask yourself why they’re in your circle in the first place.
Fear is healthy, if managed. It keeps us on our toes. If pumps us with adrenalin. It gives us inspiration when we normally can’t find a solution. It gives you that nervous energy, where directed correctly can be positive energy to be truly awesome in what you do. If you didn’t fear failure in doing a task, then you truly didn’t care what the outcome was, and really, should you be doing it then?
“So how are you going to use that fear in your next performance?”
“I’m going to feel it, and redirect it to use it in my DJing to pump the crowd up! I’m going to sign up to do the next show in November! It’s going to be great!”
“That’s music to my ears, dude.”
Ivan Chew © 2016