What We Fear
I started writing a book for myself.
Initially the daily writing process was a way to bring clarity to my thoughts. Afterall, if you can’t write it down, do you really understand it? During the Covid shutdown, I would get up daily and write for four to five hours each morning. It doesn’t take long for that amount of time writing to accumulate into pages and pages of thoughts and ideas.
Though I had spent most of my time writing privately, I eventually shared what I had been doing with a few family members and close friends. One of those friends, Ryan Hawk, asked me if I was going to publish it. At that point, I had not even considered that thought.
As I began thinking about the idea of publishing a book, I immediately felt the effects of imposter syndrome. I mean, who am I to write a book? Who would want to hear what a teacher and coach had to say? What makes me think I have anything worth sharing when there are thousands of teachers and coaches out there far better than me at what we do? The feeling of inadequacy was significant.
Then I dug into those feelings and at the root of them it wasn’t inadequacy or inferiority. It was insecurity. I was simply afraid of what other people would say about my writings. Ironically, detaching from the approval of others was a central theme in my story and writings.
Yet, here it was again, holding me back.
Why Should We Care?
The National Institute of Mental Health reports public speaking as the fourth most common phobia among people, falling behind only death, spiders, and heights. It would seem the first three all direct us back to the potential for number one, death.
Number four, public speaking - which we’ll lump in with publishing your own words, however is quite different. There is nothing about public speaking that would indicate it’s life threatening. It’s a lot of things, but potentially deadly isn’t one of them.
Imminent danger? Not so much.
So, what is it? What about speaking in public or publishing your words causes over 40% of people to be afraid? While we might think the answer lies in a lack of skill, the answer is much more basic than that.
We’re afraid of what others will think about us. Silly, I know, but it’s undoubtedly true.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
So, by my calculations, that puts fear of death at number one - throwing spiders and heights into that category - and fear of what others think of us as number two. The difference in those two things is pretty drastic. Here are a few thoughts on maintaining some perspective on number two.
So, here's the meat of the advice: if it comes from your people, listen and consider it; if it comes from your critics ignore it. By the way, the stories and critiques you have running through your head are always from your critics perspective. Will you miss some feedback that could potentially help you by ignoring your critics? Sure. But, if you're in tune with your foxhole and those in the arena with you, they'll provide the same - if not better - advice free from the judgment the critics love to dole out.
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5/24/2023 04:29:16 pm
This is another wonderful reflection we can all use. I like how you dug deep to identify and connect the fear to its proper root: a fear of what others think of us. Just that exercise alone takes work / introspection to recognize.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.