“How do I get out of this now?!”
Mayka, my friend and coach, was waiting for an answer. It was the third time in a row she had invited me to attend a Toastmasters meeting and I had run out of excuses. She knew it.
In case you don’t know, Toastmasters is a non-profit organization that helps you improve your public speaking skills.
Mayka thought it was the perfect place to help me overcome my shyness in approaching strangers who could help me grow my business. I thought it was one of the nine circles of hell – you know what they say, most people are more afraid of public speaking than death. Why would I put myself through that?
Then, I thought of my why. Building a 6+ figures coaching business that helps fempreneurs overcome self-sabotage means getting over my own self-sabotaging patterns and shy identity, so that I could make the connections I needed to get in front of my ideal clients, get visible through podcasts and summit appearances, and sell with confidence every day. If I didn’t break through my shyness, my coaching business would fail before it even started.
“Fine, I’ll come,” I said with a reluctant smile. “But I’ll do no public speaking.”
“Fair enough. Just promise me you’ll strike at least one conversation with a stranger, instead of sitting near the food area waiting for someone to talk to you.”
F*ck. She knew me well. I don’t have a problem talking to strangers when they approach me. But to be the one starting the interaction? It terrified the hell out of me.
Still, I reluctantly agreed. I knew she was right. I had to get over my fear sooner or later. Now was as good a time as any, I guess…
My heart pounded so loud, I swear you could hear it echoing around the room as I walked through the door that night. My mind started racing:
👉 “Why did I say yes to this?”
👉 “What if I say something stupid and make a fool of myself?”
👉 “What if no one likes me?”
👉 “What if everyone thinks I’m a weirdo because I don’t want to get up on stage?”
Maybe it wasn’t too late to make an excuse and turn away…
Feeling The Fear And Doing It Anyway
I quickly scanned the room. A bunch of guys in suits were talking in small groups, while the only two women present were busy going through the evening’s schedule. It was obvious they all knew each other – will I fit in?
I did what I always do in these situations. Hang around in a corner hoping some good soul will take pity on me and start a conversation. It worked. A few people came over and told me the first time they went to Toastmasters they were as shy and awkward as me. Now, they could easily strike up a conversation with anyone.
As we chatted along, I could feel the knots in my stomach turn into butterflies. My fear was transforming into excitement – could it be it was that all along?
But I still hadn’t approached anyone myself yet. The chance came during the networking break. Mayka came over and said, “This is your chance. I’m going to the ladies’ room and when I come back, I want to see you talking to someone YOU approached.”
The butterflies promptly turned back into knots. My heart started pounding again. My palms were sweating. Then, I took the first step towards a nice blonde lady who seemed as uncomfortable there as I was. “Hi, I’m Giorgia,” I said, before we started chatting about the night’s event.
I had done it. I had started an interaction with a stranger and I hadn’t died. I hadn’t made a fool of myself. I hadn’t been rejected. All those scary scenarios my mind threatened me with to make me run a mile hadn’t happened.
You know what happened? That lady thanked me for going over and talking to her. She had wanted to meet someone, too but was too shy to make the first move.
I has spent days panicking about this event and trying to find any excuse to get out of it. But once there, I ended up having the best time ever.
The following Monday, I went back – and that shy lady I talked to got out of her shell too and took one of the key speaking roles that evening!
It’s Not All About You
When you’re caught up in fear, all you think about is “Me, me, me”:
👉 “What if no one likes ME?”
👉 “What if they reject ME?”
👉 “What will they think of ME?”
Your mind loves to make the situation all about you. But what if instead of thinking what could happen to you, you focused on how you can help your clients?
When I approached that lovely lady, I thought about how she must be feeling. Awkward, wanting someone to talk to and dreading it at the same time. It’s a feeling I know well. When I focused on her and how to make her feel welcome and comfortable, everything shifted. I relaxed and started chatting away – all fears of making a fool of myself disappeared.
When you don’t show up, you’re not just hurting yourself. You’re hurting the people you’re meant to help, too.
How To Overcome Fear When It Strikes Again…
When I went home that night, I was sure I’d never have any problem striking up a conversation with a stranger ever again. I had done it once, I could do it again, right?
Two days later, I was at a networking event and the old fear cropped up again, “I’d love to go and talk to that nice woman over there, but what if I get rejected?” Only this time, I didn’t let fear stop me. I took a deep breathe and introduced myself.
Fear will always show up. Question is, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to let fear cripple you or will you overcome it?
I’m choosing the latter now.
My 3 Step Formula To Overcome Fear
If the fear never goes away completely, how do you learn to deal with it when it shows up? Here’s a simple 3 step process that helped me move past my fear and do the things that scare me, so I could finally get visible, attract ideal clients, and reach 10K months:
Step 1: Acknowledge Your Fear
Fear is there for a reason. It’s job is to keep you safe. It’s that voice that tells you it’s not a good idea to drive home after drinking too much or jumping off a tall building for kicks. The problem is that your fear is paranoid. EVERYTHING remotely out of the ordinary, like talking to a stranger or registering a new domain name, triggers it.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
Next time fear shows up, talk to it:
- What are you so scared of? What are you trying to protect me from?
- Is this a valid concern?
- If it is a valid concern and there’s serious risk of harm (think drink driving), listen to your fear and stay safe.
- If you’re scared of rejection, criticism, or anything else that doesn’t involve a serious risk of physical harm/death, simply thank your fear for trying to protect you and let it know you don’t need it. “Thank you for trying to protect me fear. But, I’m a big girl now. I can do this – and I will.”
Most of the things you’re scared of will never come true. Don’t let them stop you from building your 6+ figures business.
Step 2: Turn Your Fear Into Excitement
Did you ever notice that fear feels a lot like excitement? Both emotions are caused by the same hormones. They both feel like butterflies in your stomach.
It’s just that one makes you excited about trying new things and the other has you running in the opposite direction.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
Next time you feel fear coming on, ask yourself, “What if I chose to see this as excitement? What do I have to gain from this opportunity? What amazing things could happen if I go ahead and do this?”
Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong, think about all the things that could go right. Let that fuel you.
Step 3: Connect With Your Purpose (This Is Key To Overcome Fear!)
You don’t have to face your fears. You can choose to stay in your comfort zone. Most people spend all their lives there – and then wonder why their life never gets better and their business never becomes as successful as they wished.
To step out of your comfort zone and do that thing that scares you, your desire must be stronger than your fear.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
When you’re about to do something that scares you and fear is talking you out of it, ask yourself:
- Why do I want to overcome this particular fear?
- What will overcome this fear help me accomplish?
- Who will I be able to help and how if I overcome this fear?
- Can I do the work I’m called to do in the world if I don’t overcome this fear?
TIP: Don’t just say, “I want to overcome this so I can get more money or more clients”. Why is it important for you to get that? What impact will that make in your life and other people’s lives? Go deep.
For me, I wanted to get over my social anxiety so that I would be able to share my message with the world and connect with creative, multi-passionate women who want to get over their own fears and build thriving businesses from their passions. Before I could help them, I had to help myself and walk my talk.
This wasn’t about me. It was about all the women who needed to hear this message from me. If I didn’t get out of my way, what would happen to them? When you’re about to take action and your fear crops up, reconnect with your purpose. Think about why you’re doing this and the people you want to help.
When you come from a place of service, fear stands no chance to derail you.
Wrapping It Up
Fear will always be there every time you try to do something out of the ordinary for you. The 3 step formula to overcome fear is to acknowledge it, reframe the nerves into excitement, and reconnect with your purpose. When you focus on helping other people, it’ll be easier to feel the fear and do it anyway.