Four Ways To Break Through Your Fear And Self-Doubt

by Terry Gault

When I read this piece from Forbes offering 4 simple approaches to move beyond one’s fear and self-doubt, I knew that I wanted to share it here with our readers.

They offer the following 4 suggestions and offer up broad examples:

1. Take a No-Excuses Approach
2. Feel the Fear—But Do It Anyway
3. Be Willing to Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone
4. Take Decisive Action

These same 4 steps are important in taking on communication and public speaking challenges, too.  I’ve added my own thoughts that narrow the scope of the 4 approaches to communication.

1. Take a No-Excuses Approach

It’s easy to come up with ‘reasons’ (excuses) to avoid a difficult conversation or avoid volunteering to take up a speaking opportunity that might raise your visibility within your organization or community.

Those who will succeed will not let their ‘reasons’ prevent them from moving forward because they are willing to  …

2. Feel the Fear—But Do It Anyway

Feeling fear or anxiety when approaching a difficult conversation (giving candid feedback to a peer or boss, addressing a conflict, delivering a high-stakes talk, etc) is to be expected.  It does not make you abnormal or signal that you are more or less likely to fail.  Normal healthy people all feel fear or anxiety regardless of their position or history of success.  Taking on anything where the outcome is uncertain is likely to invoke fear.

Simply put, the people who ultimately succeed don’t let the feeling stop them from moving forward.   The point of the article is that hiding or avoiding the fear is not a long term solution.  Instead, you must move directly toward the fear.

In fact, I would hazard that you are bound to feel fear and anxiety if you are willing to  …

3. Be Willing to Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone

If you only take on activities that feel comfortable, you will not grow beyond your current capacity and level of competence.  You will become stuck where you are and are even likely to regress.

4. Take Decisive Action

I suggest breaking your goal down into clear, simple actions that you know you can handle.  For example:

A) If you are avoiding addressing an ongoing conflict with a colleague, write down your impressions of the root cause, what responsibility you bear in the conflict, ideas about how to resolve it,  and (most important) some open-ended questions that you will pose to the other party or parties involved.  This simple step will help to make you feel less stuck and open up the possibility of ultimate resolution.

B) If you are avoiding volunteering for a speaking opportunity, write down the potential benefits of raising your hand: increased visibility up the chain of command, being seen as a credible subject matter expert, raising your profile as a leader in the organization or community.

Doing these simple steps is likely to increase your confidence level and prompt you to take the next action on the path to achieving your goal.

Finally, it’s useful to ask a trusted colleague, mentor or coach to help you work through this 4 step process.

In the words of Anias Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

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photo credit: mat honan


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