Ever found yourself thinking about something that is coming up, and feeling anxious, nervous or even afraid? Going over and over all the possible things that might go wrong, rehearsing your part of a the imaginary conversation, feeling more and more unwell in the process. Sometimes the things we are afraid of are dangerous, or life threatening, and fear can be a helpful response when it is genuinely time to run away. But more often the things we are afraid of are very different.
Coaching is full of questions that challenge beliefs and open up opportunities. What would you do if you weren't afraid? The wealth of opportunities can be quite remarkable. But its not just in coaching that the question is helpful. Its well worth asking yourself in those times when you find yourself worrying about a situation that is coming up.
I was anticipating a conversation that was coming up recently and found myself pre-empting what was going to happen. I also realised that I was trying to 'win' an argument that wasn't even taking places, when I remembered the tiger question, what would you do if you weren't afraid? The interesting thing was that I wasn't afraid of the conversation, or of the people I would be speaking to, but I did realise I was afraid of losing.
You can only win and lose if its a competition, so why was I looking at the upcoming conversation as a competition? And more importantly, was it helping? As I reflected it was clear that in seeking to 'win' something I was introducing fear, of losing and when you feel afraid your options, and ability to create new options, significantly reduces. So what if the conversation was just that, an exchange of views, where some will be different and some will be shared?
"Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there lies a field. I'll meet you there"
Sufi poet Rumi
Accepting that it is ok to be different, hold different views, and not need to be proved right, removes the fear. Removing the fear allows all the rehearsal, and the churning to stop. It allows options to emerge. Options enable flexibility to respond in the moment. There is no plan to get derailed. There is space to listen to what is being said.
The conversation went well. As a coach I spent a lot of time listening and asking questions to facilitate positive change in others. And I was reminded that those things that are useful to others, are also useful when you apply them to yourselves. So next time you are worrying about something that lies ahead ask yourself - what would you do if you weren't afraid?