When I was in 5th grade, I learned how to play “Scarlet Ribbons” on the piano. It was one of my dad’s favorite songs, and I wanted to surprise him, not only by playing it at my end-of-the-year piano recital, but by singing it too.
At the rehearsal for our big recital, I shared my idea with my piano teacher who shouted up at the stage crew to “toss a standing mic up next to the piano!” when I got up for my turn.
In front of an auditorium of students, I took my first ever stab at singing and playing piano at the same time.
I leaned way over to the standing microphone and hesitantly opened my mouth. My tooth bumped into the silver mesh, and an impossibly loud noise boomed over the speakers. The auditorium erupted with laughter and applause. I gave up instantly and fumbled through the rest of the song without singing.
A group of boys laughed uproariously at me as I made my way back to my seat.
It sucks that something like this happens to a 9-year-old kid. But we all had some version of this happen to us. Some of us had many.
By the time we’re adults, “ Who Do You Think You Are?” shouts so loudly at us that we stop giving ourselves a chance even to have the idea to sing “Scarlet Ribbons.” We protect ourselves from the slightest likelihood of being seen as flawed, ugly, imperfect, stupid, you name it.
The problem is this:
As a business owner, you are seen. In fact, you must be seen. Business – yes, even online business – is public. Many people will witness your ideas, your videos, your talks, your writing, your coaching, your successes. And they will also witness your failures, your anxieties, your shaky voice, your bad ideas, your bad hair. (And in my case on stage recently… your Spanx.)
Well, yeah. That comes with the territory. But hiding yourself in the corner gives more power to the fear. And that’s all this is. It’s just fear. So here’s what I did, still do, and teach my clients to do.
First, take steps.
Break down your big dreams and ideas into do-able steps. Then do them.
Taking steps won’t make the fear go away. In fact, the voices of fear will probably fight harder at first. But when you get through the first small step, all you need to know is that it’s time for the next small step.
Big a-ha for me: Fear can’t fight steps. Fear mostly just fights your big ideas and dreams.
Second, take refuge.
Get a buddy or coach who holds you accountable to do what you say you’re going to do, and then cheers you on for the steps you take. Do not, under any circumstances, allow toxic people to give you opinions on your progress. Surround yourself only with extreme encouragers. This is non-negotiable.
Third, take time. (Be WITH this fear.)
In addition to having their own Strategy coach, my clients in Uplevel Academy each get to work with their own Energy Coach. Their energy coach helps with mindsets, focus and fear. They don’t try to fix anything. Trying to FIX the fear often leads to shame and repression. Instead, they methodically help the client bring presence to the fear and clear it from the inside.
Presence means being in relationship with fear, or whatever obstacle is coming up. When we get upset by our fears, we actually lock them in place with our resistance. But when we stop resisting, the fear has a chance to loosen its hold. This is the power of our attention. Fear doesn’t vanish because we kill it. It dissipates because of the power of our presence. I call this “Managing Your Power.”
Managing Your Power means staying in relationship with your idea or your dream. Too often, one small glitch means we abandon our dream. A glitch is actually your opportunity to discover what you’re being called to learn as a business owner, who you’re being called to become. If you bolt or flee, you lose the lesson. You gradually live into the lessons around being seen if you stay present to your ideas and your imperfection.
Lastly, keep going.
One of the greatest things about becoming strong as a business owner is that you begin to see all those opinions and thoughts as just that: opinions and thoughts. In the end, it’s not about being seen at all. It’s about being able to see yourself clearly and simply stand in the power of that.