I was talking with my father recently about my writing workshops. I’m finishing the last touches on the first one and hope to finally make it available for registration any day now. (Famous last words.)
I explained that even though people signed up for the workshops knowing they would do 15-30 minutes a day of homework, some people didn’t do the homework. Dad said that they were lazy.
I thought for a bit and said, “No, I disagree. I don’t think they are lazy. I think they are afraid.”
When we write, we expose our thoughts and feelings to the outside world. Many people are afraid of any or all of the entire process: the writing process, the expression of their words, and how people will react to their writing.
I see the same thing in projects. I’ve seen fear express itself as “analysis paralysis,” or developers who don’t write the code to solve this problem, or testers who don’t automate their tests. I’ve seen it in managers who don’t decide on the project portfolio and ask people to multitask.
We all have fear. Sometimes we have FEAR: Fear Expressed As Reality.
When we have FEAR, we fear the possible outcomes:
- I won’t be able to start
- I won’t be able to finish
- People won’t like what I’ve done. In fact, they will hate it and by extension, hate me.
And more. For some people, if you ask, “What is the eventual outcome?” they might answer, “I won’t have friends. I won’t have colleagues. I won’t have a job. I will die.”
That’s a big reaction to writing an article for a workshop. And yet, people feel that way. Sometimes, I do, too.
Here are questions I use to manage my FEAR:
- What’s the worst thing that could happen? Now, can I manage those risks in some way?
- What’s the best thing that could happen? What do I need to make that occur?
- Does it really matter what other people think? (I have a draft post about Feynmann and his question. Maybe I will learn how to finish it in this lifetime :-)
- How can I continue, even if I totally blow it? What adaptability do I need in my plans? What resilience do I need for myself?
I just bought a book about stoicism, which might help me articulate some of these ideas better.
We don’t always succeed the first time we do anything. In fact, I often discover I’m mediocre. We can take that mediocrity, understand how to learn fast, and become better. Or, we might say, “I’m not willing to invest the time to become better. However, I acknowledge that trying this didn’t kill me.”
We all suffer from FEAR, Fear Expressed as Reality, at times. I choose to try the growth mindset, manage my risks, and think about how I can practice to manage my fear. If I see my reality, I can often manage my fear.
That is the question this week: When do you suffer from FEAR?
(P. S. I have links in this post, but my theme is not displaying the links. I know this and am about to hire someone to fix this and several other niggling problems. If you have a recommendation for a WordPress person, please do let me know. Thanks.)
- What Does Success Mean to You?
- Are Your Shoulds Trapping You?