Fighting the Fear

As an INFJ, few things are more tormenting to my psyche than the thought of an upcoming public speaking gig. To give you some perspective, if I were on Survivor and given a choice between public speaking and eating a bug…I’d be asking them to pass the sriracha.

I suspect I’m not alone in this. When you google “public speaking,” one of the top suggested searches to pop up is: “Public speaking is scarier than death.”

(That might be taking it a little far…)

Last night I was discussing an upcoming speaking engagement with a friend who used to do this kind of thing professionally. He shared a tidbit of wisdom that really helped me:

Why are you thinking about this like a speaking function? You’ve been invited to get up there and talk about what you know — so do it. 

That shift in perspective (and thump on the head) instantly turned “omg stressful” energy into “omg I can’t wait to share with these people” energy.

Our brains are funny little creatures. In the face of danger, nature has equipped us all with a basic survival mechanism: fight or flight. And, if we’re being honest, a lot of us are a herd of gazelles ready to flee the first sign of danger. Flight is easier. Fight is hard. Fighting requires risk and courage with no guarantee that you can actually out-strength whatever is on the other end.

But when what is on the other end is fear, we can always overcome. Because fear is just a product of our imaginations. Fear is just stories we play on loop in our heads.

I sat down with Robbin last year for my annual review. We went through the typical bits and pieces, then she asked a question that caught me off guard: What are you challenged by? What do you want to overcome? 

Before I knew it, “speaking” was coming out of my mouth. The answer was honest. (Meanwhile my internal voice was screaming “Take it back, self!! Put those words back into your mouth RIGHT NOW!!”)

But it was too late. There are no take-backsies.

And that — that right there — is one of my favorite things about Brains on Fire. We live, work, love and create in a state of forward momentum. Robbin has often said we’re a company of entrepreneurs. There’s real truth to that. In the true entrepreneurial spirit, there’s no such thing as enough. We’re always striving to grow and get better. Our company leaders invite everyone to the table. We’re all encouraged to explore beyond our job descriptions and try new things, be it redesigning our workspace or initiating a new internal process. We’re all responsible for growing the company and we’re all keepers of the culture. We’re a team, and as such we’re constantly pushing each other to keep doing and learning and evolving — beyond our wildest dreams and beyond our wildest fears.

What are you challenged by? What do you want to overcome? What would you do if there were no fear? 

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