I remember a few years ago I read an article about Sheryl Sandberg and her book, Lean In, where one of the quotes that stuck with me was, “What would you do if you were not afraid?”
I think about this frequently when working with clients. As humans, especially those with a preference for risk aversion and planning, we tend to focus on the consequences of what we do (or don’t do); the worst-case scenario; the bad things that may happen.
- What if they get mad?
- What if they say “NO?”
- What if I screw it up/fail?
My responses to my clients:
- What if they respect you?
- What if they say “YES?”
- What if you do it right/succeed?
When my clients start to go down the “what-if” rabbit hole, I remind them of the successes they would have missed if they let the “what-ifs” hold them back:
- Having an assertive yet respectful conversation with upset physician colleagues; standing firm on the changes being made to the service, garnering the respect of their colleagues and senior leaders
- Receiving more resources and project support after making the case to the boss
- Having the difficult conversation with a staff member who did not get the promotion (rather than just sending an email), and getting a “thank you for caring about me” note in return
These are some major wins!
When we let the fear of the bad “what-ifs” get in the way, we often create obstacles that don’t even exist and we can’t see the amazing possibilities in what we are afraid to do. We then hold ourselves back and then feel something even worse than the fear of failure or rejection: the regret of not trying.
If you’re stuck imagining yourself in the “what-if” movie, change the scene. Imagine them respecting you for standing in your values and creating boundaries. Picture them nodding their heads and saying your idea has merit. Visualize yourself overcoming the obstacles, getting it right and being a smashing success!
Isn’t that much more appealing?
If you’re stuck and want to move forward, click here for your path to finding your courage and shifting out of neutral.