How Can You Become Better than You Fear, as Good as You Hope?

Johanna's Problem Solving Loop

Johanna’s Problem Solving Loop

I like to be great at everything I do: my client work, my writing, my relationships. You name it, I want to be great at it. When I have the autonomy to learn and master the work, I can be as good or better than I hope. When I don’t have the ability to learn and improve, too often, I’m rarely better than I fear.

For me, this comes down to seeing my reality and using deliberate practice.

I don’t feel a lot of fear these days except for physical challenges. You know, that vertigo thing. I have a ton of self-confidence and have for years. Do I ever get that lump in the pit of my stomach? Of course. That’s not fear, exactly. It’s excitement, anticipation.

My self-confidence comes from preparation and knowing I have the ability in almost every situation to adapt. I’ve “failed” in so many ways I barely count them anymore. I’ve learned from each of them. Here are some notable failures:

  • A client said they received “no value” from a workshop I customized for them. They didn’t want to pay me. I asked why. They said, “We would have to change everything we do, if we were to work that way.” I told them I thought that was the point. No, no, they said. I learned to ask about outcomes people want, before I consider a consulting engagement.
  • I once forgot all my stories in a keynote. They just left my brain. I had 30 minutes remaining. Uh oh. Instead of telling people I forgot, I said, “That’s the technical part of the presentation. Now, let’s do Q&A so I can address your specific issues.” They loved it. They thought I customized the presentation for them. I learned to see my reality and adapt.
  • I tried to run a simulation with another colleague at a very large conference. But, the people didn’t want a simulation. They wanted the answers. I now don’t offer simulation-based workshops at that conference. I sometimes offer interactions, but not simulations.

I have a ton more examples. Good thing, because I’m too old to not have many more examples.

In each of these cases, I used my optimism and the growth mindset to create another path.

I’m working through this now, with my fiction. I’ve been writing a short story a week (sometimes two) since December. I’m learning to write faster and better. I want to be a great fiction writer, and I’m learning through practice.

I’m not sure you ever “get there” with any form of writing. You get it good enough, so you’re better than you fear.

That’s why I choose to practice various parts of writing, publish, practice again. That’s the point of learning.

Here are questions I ask myself:

  • What do I want to accomplish? (What’s my first small goal?)
  • Where are my capabilities with respect to that goal?
  • What do I need to learn and practice (with feedback) to accomplish that goal?

See my reality, generate some options, take a small step, get some feedback, do it again. That’s it for me. That’s how I manage my FEAR and become as good as I hope.

The question this week is: How can you become better than you fear, as good as you hope?

2 thoughts on “How Can You Become Better than You Fear, as Good as You Hope?

  1. Diane Zajac

    Life’s timing is beautiful. I saw this today AND today someone mentioned me a tweet w/ a link to my experience report from #Agile2013. When I look back, I feared so much back then and dared to hope for half as good.

    Folks like you have helped me to stay curious, keep asking questions, and always look forward to the next adventure. Life is amazing if you can reframe failures/obstacles as opportunities to grow some “muscle”. Hmmmm, maybe 2019 is the year to return to my blog. Thank you for writing, sharing and inspiring. – dz

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