Did you do anything exciting last week?
I’m not talking about quitting your job, going on a vision quest, or flipping your life on its head.
I’m talking about taking small steps towards overcoming big fears.
Here are 3 suggestions of fears you can face this week without having to change your routine, and a challenge to help overcome each one.
Fear of Rejection
Have you ever asked someone out on a date in a grocery store or in the middle of a busy restaurant? Have you tried negotiating the price of your morning coffee? How about making a request to your boss you were sure would be rejected?
My friend, David, sent me an email last week that inspired this post. His wife wanted him to ask his boss to change his working hours. She wanted David to leave work one hour early on Mondays and Wednesdays so he could pick the kids up from daycare. David said to me, “I was scared and didn’t want to do it because it seemed out of step with the company culture.”
We all have a little voice in our head that drives our fear of rejection. “Why are you doing this? You should stop now and save yourself the embarrassment!” That little voice often paralyzes us with fear and prevents us from taking risks.
In the end, David’s boss accepted his request to change his working hours. But even if he had said ‘No,’ just having the guts to ask the question was a big ‘win’ for David.
Challenge: Make a point this week to ask for something you’re sure will be rejected. See what happens.
Fear of Public Speaking
Do you hate public speaking as much as most of the people in the world?
I do. I hate the feeling that an audience is judging my every word and gesture.
So, in the spirit of my Year of Fear, I attended my first Toastermasters’ meeting two weeks ago. Toastmasters is an organization that has chapters all over the world. Its goal is to help people practice public speaking and develop leadership skills.
The meeting was on a Monday night after work. I sat in my chair inside a university classroom and watched as people paraded up to the front to give their speeches. One of those people was a young woman from China. She delivered a ballsy speech in broken English. I sat there thinking, “Holy man, if she can do it, what am I afraid of?”
So, I stood up and gave a two-minute improvised speech in front of 20 strangers.
My palms were clammy, my eyes darted around the room, and I stumbled over my words. But I survived and left the meeting walking a little taller that night. I know I’ll return, and I know next time I’ll have more confidence.
Challenge: Find a group that meets to practice public speaking. Stand up and give a speech in front of a roomful of strangers.
Fear of Traveling Alone
Are you afraid of traveling alone?
When I tell people about my two week walk to Quebec City, the most common question I get is, “Did you do it alone?”
The times that I’ve traveled by myself have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
But getting to the point of booking a solo vacation is difficult.
So why not take a baby-step towards being an expert solo-traveler? Try taking yourself out on a date.
Challenge: Go out for dinner, by yourself. Sit down, order a beer, and ask the server for a recommendation. Enjoy your meal. After dinner, catch a flick. After the movie, stop at the pub for a drink. Sit at the bar and chat with the bartender. Make conversation with random people. When it’s over, let me know how it went!
What do you think? Do you have any fears and challenges to add to this list?
Don’t be shy to share your ideas in the Comments section below!