I talk a lot about the 4 letter f-word with media and communication students at Temple University.
It’s fear…of course.
And students always seem a bit amazed that I deal with it too, the f-word. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all do.
Even our beloved Philadelphia Eagles wearing dog masks, barking and beating their chests are warding off fear; summoning the courage to throw their whole body and soul into battle, right?
I’ve faced the fear of cancer, and sometimes I have to beat back the fear of recurrence, common among survivors like me.
I’ve faced the fear of getting in front of a live camera early in my career over and over again until finally, I didn’t fear it, most of the time.
I tell my students that we all fear things like heights, or mice (had one in my office this week and went running with a girly scream.)
But the fear of imperfection, of humiliation, failure…that’s the dream killer
That’s what really keeps us from what we want.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”. It’s one of my favorite quotes because it gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it?
My students want jobs and internships but sometimes fear to go talk to employers at a career fair.
“What if I don’t say the right thing? What if my resume isn’t impressive? What will I wear? What if I look foolish or make a mistake?”
Instead of admitting to the f-word, they might say, ” I don’t really want to go to the fair.”
But as professionals, we do that too, don’t we? “I really didn’t want that promotion.” “I really don’t want to write that book.” “I didn’t really want that job.” “I don’t really want to get up in front of everyone and give a presentation.”
We DO want those things. We just don’t want to deal with the “f-word”.
I’ve learned one of the best ways to deal with the f-word is remembering all the courageous things we’ve already done in our life, reviewing the catalog of fears faced in the past that propelled us forward, brought us our biggest successes.
My year of firsts, tested my fear every single day, even if I was just learning to hula hoop. At the end , I knew I had 365 days of taking risks large and small from the polar bear plunge, to going back to school. I learned I often wasn’t perfect but it didn’t matter because there were so many rewards on the other side of fear.
Sit on the sidelines, no risks….no rewards.
I’ve had the privilege of interviewing and knowing some pretty famous people. I can tell you they ALL have fears. They are just really good at pushing through them.
“You can be good at it too,” I tell my students. “It just takes practice. I dare you.”