There’s a super important step in becoming your braver self that nobody talks about. It’s the recognition of when you’re playing small. It’s noticing that fear has come to sit next to you on the bleachers and is running her mouth so you don’t get on the court and play. She’s hard to notice because, in my experience, fear sounds a lot like perfectly logical reasons. Often it feels more like my old friend “busy” sat down. Or even her cousin procrastination. But fear?! 

Couldn’t we all use a coach to call this out for us? One with a whistle. She’s say:

“Hey LB! This is it! It’s a big girl pants moment. That excuse you just gave? That was FEAR!”

Maybe you all have this down, but I’m a (nearly) fifty year old woman who’s been preaching about overcoming fear and building confidence for a good long while now, and darn it if it still doesn’t sneak up on me.

An example you ask? Thanks, I’m ready.

My team just decided to participate in a sales leadership conference. When we do this, I’m fortunate to usually keynote and then we cross our fingers that it drives traffic to our booth and voilà! Leads. (Sorry marketing audience, it isn’t actually magic, ya’ll just make it look that way).

I work on this talk for MONTHS. What’s the right topic for the audience? What are others talking about? What will help me stand out? What will drive the right lead traffic? How do I not look like an utter fool? Who the hell am I to think I can talk about that? There are probably better people to…

There’s the imposter clue bus! Caught it! That one was pretty obvious.

This time it sounded like, “There isn’t much notice for this event. It’s in a few weeks in fact. I should probably play it safe and recycle something about front line sales skills – something I’ve presented on before.”

Logical right?

Nope. Cop out. I think I have more to give. I think I can do REAL keynotes (as opposed to those imposter speeches I’ve been giving for a decade, I guess). I want to inspire, not just share tips and tricks for driving revenue.

But damn, it’s hard to inspire on demand. It’s like being funny on demand. Quick! Make me laugh…Right!?

So I’ve been putting it off. I’ve been making excuses. I’ve let fear sneak up on me and not only sit NEXT to me, she invited me off the bleachers to the concession stand, and we stopped and put on lip gloss in the bathrooms. We may also be writing this blog instead of working on slides…

So here’s the lesson: Double check your excuses. And your reasons. And your logic. And your priority list. See if there isn’t something your heart really wants pushed to the bottom of the list and then coach yourself to recognize the placement as fear. When you do, try repeating this:

“It’s my time. I’m going to go for it. The worst that could happen is nowhere near as big as the best that can happen, and I think I’ve proven that I come out on the positive side more often than the negative side. I’m going to bet on myself and I’m going to feel damn proud when I’m done.”

Whew! I needed that. Thanks for joining me for this short self pep talk. Now put me in coach! I’m ready!

PS: If you’re going to the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in March, come see me after my talk on March 9th. (A little accountability AFTER the fact couldn’t hurt, right?)