By Brian Marcel, CFO, MSBO Board Member, Associate Superintendent, Washtenaw ISD
There it is again, the mechanical bull. I’ve had probably 4 or 5 occasions in my life where I’ve been in an establishment that has a mechanical bull available for people to ride. I’ve always wanted to try, but every time I end up not doing it. What am I waiting for?! I look over and see a couple people signing the waiver form…
Fear…it’s the oldest and probably one of the strongest human emotions. It influences our behavior more than any other emotion, because from an evolutionary perspective, being afraid of the right stuff kept us alive! Whenever we want to take a risk, fear kicks in and tells us all the reasons we should give up, hide, stay in our comfort zone, etc.
And to make it more difficult, there are multiple types of fears; fear of inadequacy, uncertainty, failure, rejection, change, missing out, losing control, being judged, getting hurt…what if I fall off the bull in 2 seconds? What will everyone here think? Will they judge me? Will I get hurt?
Am I going to give you the secret pill to get over your fears in an article that’s a couple paragraphs long? No, I really wish I could. There are countless books and articles that discuss methods for overcoming fear and self-doubt. But I’m hoping to give you a few things to think about to help motivate you to get started down the path.
Understand fear and embrace it. Forbes magazine says that fear exists to keep us safe. It is not inherently bad or good but a tool we can use to make better decisions. Fear isn’t designed to keep us inactive, but to help us act in ways that generate the results we need and want. Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them.
You’re a member of MSBO. One of our biggest fears is around feeling inadequate and being judged by your peers. It stops people from sharing ideas, presenting at conferences, etc. From my experience, MSBO members tend to be the most kind and considerate people, and they generally want you to succeed! We ask each other questions, share resources, and help each other out for the greater good. And if someone does judge you, they aren’t a good human so it shouldn’t matter what they think anyway.
Don’t make uncertain things, certain. We tend to look at all the scenarios of trying something new or different and then focus on the worst-case scenario, no matter how unlikely it is. Writing things down tends to help us be more realistic and be sure to give yourself good information. Analyze all the potential outcomes to remove the fear of the unknown. And then assess the chance that each outcome could happen, even consider assigning a written percentage to it to help you realistically evaluate the outcomes.
Tim Ferriss, an American entrepreneur and author, suggests “fear-setting”. He writes down everything that he wants to do that he’s scared to do. He then writes down the worst-case scenario outcome, and then writes what he’ll do if the worst-case scenario does happen. He then thinks about the best-case scenario outcome. Often you discover that the best possible outcome is “more good” than the worst-case scenario outcome is bad. When you do fear-setting, you learn that the things you think you’re afraid of really aren’t worth being afraid of.
Create Anti-Fear. Theo Seeds on the site medium.com provided 10 strategies to deal with fear, one of them being to create anti-fear. If you need to do something and you’re afraid to do it, try making yourself afraid not to do it! Every time you make a decision, your brain puts all your emotions on a scale. The emotions holding you back, like fear, go on one side of the scale. The emotions pushing you forward go on the other side of the scale. And whichever side of the scale is heavier, that’s the decision you make.
That’s what I did with the mechanical bull. Fear of embarrassment and getting physically hurt on one side, but the other side had camaraderie, fun, and most importantly for me, avoiding the feeling of regret if I never did it. I also went through versions of all the above thoughts when I did my first few MSBO/ASBO presentations and when I decided to run for the board.
I’ll leave you with a quote I’ve heard many times and am taking more to heart as I get older; “people don’t regret the things they did do, they regret the things they didn’t do.” Don’t let the bull get the best of you!
Other Articles in this Newsletter
- Celebrating MSBO Member Accomplishments
- Don’t Miss These Professional Development Opportunities
- Don’t Miss Out on These Scholarships
- Is It Your Turn to Give Back?
- Let MSBO’s Leadership Institute Change Your Life
- MSBO Update – Robert Dwan
- Thank You to ASBO Michigan Reception Sponsors
- Welcome New Members
- Why Understanding Generational Change Matters – Mary Beth Rogers