A guest post by Ken Jacobs, Principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching.
It may surprise you how much fear there is among the ranks of PR managers and leaders. As an executive coach to these executives, trust me on this. “I could never ask that of a client,” “I could never tell that to that team member,” “I could never discuss that with my boss” are phrases I hear frequently.
And these are people with enormous responsibilities, who manage budgets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and who supervise many executives.
What a shame.
When we live with guilt, we’re living in the past. When we worry or fear, we’re often living in the future. Wouldn’t it be great to live in the present? To have the self-confidence that allows us to see countless choices, and which encourages our teams, peers, and even our bosses to follow us?
Well you can. Here are some steps to combat fear when it rears its ugly head. I call the first three the AAA: Awareness, Acknowledgement, and Action.
- Be Aware Of The Manifestations Of Your Fear. The first step of managing any issue that prevents you from achieving your goals is to be aware that this is occurring. So turn your fear radar on high. Specifically, be aware of the physical manifestations that result when you go into your fear zone. Is it a sensation in the hairs on your neck? A tightening in the chest or throat? A feeling of lack of choice or inaction? As you pay attention, you’ll become more aware, and that’s a critical and highly valuable first step.
- Acknowledge Your Fear. Know that while these feelings are very real, they don’t have to be your reality. Your perceptions create your reality. Think, or even say out loud “OK, I recognize this. It’s happened before. Does this perception benefit me? What else might be going on here? What are other ways to perceive what’s going on? What’s the perception that serves me?” Now you can segue into Step 3.
- Take Action. Ask yourself “Will this fear get me the outcome I want? Will following it make me feel fulfilled or happy? (The answer is always a resounding “No!”) Now what do I want to do about it? The operative words here are “I” and “do.” That’s because when we’re ready to step out of our fear, we need to 1) Take responsibility; and 2) Take action! You then have two additional choices: 1) What’s the biggest, hairiest-scariest step I can take to get what I want? Or 2) What’s the baby step I feel comfortable taking here? Neither answer is wrong, because either way, you’re taking action!
- Recognize What and Who Make You Feel Fearful. There’s often a pattern to our fears. Certain situations and people bring up thoughts and feelings of fear. Exploring these will help you recognize these patterns, help you get to the root cause of these fears. These steps will assist you to combat the fear, and respond in new and more beneficial ways to respond to it.
- Know That Fear Will Never Get You What You Want-Ever! Fear is an awful strategy for both business and life. It won’t make you happier. It won’t help you build mutually beneficial client relationships. It won’t help you attract and win new business. It won’t foster team loyalty: Quite the opposite, because your team, your peers, your boss, are attracted to courage. Being brave makes you a more magnetic and effective leader.
- You Can Only Attract What You Want, Not What You Don’t. We manifest what we think. You can attract what you want. However, (and please excuse the double negatives here), you can’t not attract what you don’t want. So while the statement “I’m no longer going to be a prisoner of fear” may be a good first step, you’re still thinking about and articulating the word “fear.” That’s giving it too much mental bandwidth and power. You’ll truly get what you want, and faster, when you say and phrases like “I’m ready to be brave!” or “I am a courageous leader” and embrace their power. Do you see the difference?
- Have The Courage To Get Help To Combat Your Fear. The person you bring to the office each day is a reflection of your previous experiences, perceptions and learning. It’s affected by your prior careers, education, and life, going back through college, high school and our earliest family experiences. As you can imagine, this is all very powerful.
When we try to make change, like becoming a brave leader, we often get what we want, and faster, when we seek out help. So be courageous and contact a therapist, mentor, or certified coach to learn how to walk through your fear. I’m happy to offer anyone a free one-hour session to determine if executive coaching can help you achieve your goals, and if we’d be a good fit.
Ken Jacobs is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, which empowers PR and communications leaders to achieve breakthrough results via executive coaching, and helps communications organizations achieve their goals via consulting and training. You can find him at www.jacobscomm.com firstname.lastname@example.org @KensViews, or on LinkedIn.