The Key to Transformation
I strongly believe that if we allow our fears to stop us doing something then we are ‘stunting’ our growth as individuals. If we don’t take that leap into the unknown then we miss out on so much and might not get the chance to experience an even more fulfilling life waiting out there for us.
We only have one life, right? We need to get on and live it. Don’t let the fact that you are scared hold you back. How much time do we spend worrying about things that might happen or that we can’t control and then find out that they didn’t anyway?
Susan Jeffers wrote the book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ and I credit this book with leading to a wonderful transformation in my life. It has been said that God and the universe (or whoever you believe in) send you gifts at just the right time and this was so true in my case. I came across this book when the opportunity to come out to Hong Kong with my job first came about. Talk about synergy!
This was over 6 years ago now. At the time, I was working as Head of Employee Relations, Reward & Benefits for a prestigious London law firm when a new HR Director arrived in our offices in Hong Kong. S/he asked me if I would be interested in going out to Asia on secondment for 6 months. The opportunity brought about conflicting emotions: I was excited about the opportunity but there was so much fear surrounding this especially when it meant a move for my whole family. A move to a new country, new home, new job, new culture, leaving behind our close-knit family and friends – you can’t really get more change than that in one go, can you? If I had let my fear hold me back we wouldn’t have come out here and we would have missed out on what has truly been an amazing experience.
As I went home on the tube that evening I sent an email to my husband asking if he was ‘really up for it?’ He replied back: ‘YES!’ And I responded – ‘Do you really mean it?’ to which he came back with a ‘Yes, DO YOU?’
I’d never done anything like this before or hadn’t intended to. Apart from a brief stint at university when I spent a year abroad as part of my degree teaching French to 11 to 16 year olds (I was so homesick I hated every minute of it despite the fact that it was an amazing experience and I made some life-long friends), I’d been in the UK my whole life.
Memories of my year abroad added to my fear. Would I hate it? Would I be homesick? Would I fail in the job I’d been asked to come out and do? Would I be good enough? Would I fit in? Would Alex find a school and be happy? Would my husband settle? What about medical care? What about our families left behind? The fear came in all shapes and sizes and was quite overwhelming at times. I could have said this is all too hard and turned the opportunity down. But I didn’t.
For some reason – deep inside (and I can’t really explain it) – I knew this was the right thing for us. This opportunity had our name on it and I just needed to push through my fear! Susan’s book definitely helped me do just that. It really made me feel that my fear was holding me back and – in the words of one of my very good friends– what’s the worst that can happen. ‘You’re not going to die, are you??’
So, what did I learn? Fear will always be there. You overcome one and another takes it place. I’m so glad I pushed through it! Time and again, when I feel stuck and fear threatens to hold me back, I come back to this. It has made me push myself to do things I never thought I would or could do. Who would have imagined that I’d hold a global role and be travelling all round the world without a backward glance? Little me who used to find the thought of driving on my own to a new place quite an ordeal!
I do get scared still (quite often, in fact!) but I try not to let it hold me back. I do feel uncomfortable but I know if I ‘do it anyway’, I’ll be a better person or I might have an experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise and might actually enjoy. The more I do the bolder I’ve become.
I now try to use the fear to spur me on. I try to reframe it in my mind, acknowledge its existence – the butterflies in my tummy, the feeling in my chest that I really don’t want to do it – and I transform these feelings into excitement. I visualise an image in my mind of a successful outcome of whatever I’m doing. If it’s a talk I’ll visualise everyone listening intently, the round of applause at the end, and all the great feedback I’m going to get. I use the fear to enhance the adrenaline and build it into something positive. Try it and see if it works for you too!
Moving my family to another country, a new workplace, a new home in a different culture has made us stronger as family – of course it’s been hard at times and we have had our challenges – but all of us would agree that we have thrived!
Next time you are scared think that there could be a whole new opening or opportunity presented to you and you might just miss it if you let fear take control of you.
What’s the most daunting thing you’ve ever done? Let me know about a time when you have pushed through your fear and you are glad you did!
Susan Jeffers is unfortunately no longer with us but click here to find out more about her Feel The Fear book and resources.