Yesterday I wrote to you with a new Coaching With Gloria video about how you get to choose whether you live in a competitive world or a collaborative world. But it’s not only your beliefs about the competitive/collaborative nature of the world that you get to choose and then create by the way you show up, but it’s also way more than that. Two other huge reality markers that you get to choose and create are fear v. presence and scarcity v. abundance.
There is nothing more fundamentally “alive” than fear. All sentient beings have fear, even the single-cell organism in the petri dish will pull away from sudden bright light. And, the more complicated the brain involved the sneakier fear becomes; by the time you get to human beings (Oh, ye of the prefrontal cortex, most complicated brain structure on the planet) fear can show up in literally any costume. Here are some of fear’s favorite characters:
But these are somewhat subtle compared to the way fear is showing up right now:
Given how disruptive fear’s more subtle pseudonyms are (like hurry, worry, and guilt), it’s 100% natural that we feel downright pursued by fear during this time. And if we lean into it, even a little, we can be overwhelmed by it and carried away. I log in to the New York Times App just to “check the pulse of the nation” and before I know it, I’m posting and commenting and researching and double-checking, off an on for HOURS, only later realizing that another day has passed and I haven’t made any progress on my book.
That’s one of MY stories of being drawn by the black hole magnetism of fear. It’s natural… and its important that I not beat myself up about it. It’s equally important that I recognize that behavior for what it is: a FEAR response.
It’s not always true that obsessively tracking the coronavirus is only a fear response- if I was a policymaker or a journalist that would be different, I’d need to know every detail that was available.
But I’m not.
I’m a professor, so it’s my job to know my university’s policies and supports, and then teach my students to the best of my ability online. It’s not my job to monitor exactly how many N95 masks are available on Amazon.
And I’m a coach for coaches and therapists, so while I will think deeply about how the coronavirus will change how people will decide to get the help they need.. there’s no need for me to engage in an intense online conversation about how much social distancing is enough social distancing. When I wake up and realize that I’m fully outside of my lane, I know that fear has carried me away.
Fear is sneaky: it feels rational and so easy to justify. You can live in fear and no one will judge you. Especially not me! But just know that fear will steal your joy, compromise your progress, and convince you that there was no other way.
But that is not true. You can manage yourself (your time, your mind, and your exposure) and experience far less fear than you do now.
That’s 100% true.
But you have to choose it.
And right now, as a tsunami of entirely justifiable fear sits ready to carry you away at any moment, is the time to start. Starting tomorrow and through Friday I’m going to share the three things I’ve learned about fear that help me minimize its impact and stay intentional:
Recently the four of us (collectively, The Crowells) stumbled across baby videos of the small ones learning to walk, crawl, and talk. Much oohing and aahing ensued. Then came a video with an actual adult… it was me with my daughter, who was 2 at the time, showing her what it’s like to see herself on video (when you turn the cell phone camera around in selfie mode) and she was laughing which made me laugh. Oh how we laughed! It was adorable. I said, “Someday- when I’m gone- you’ll be watching this video and crying, “‘Oh, how I miss my mother!'” Yes. I said that. Sorry. My husband, who is hip to my game and not having it, then said, “Not if I marry some other woman who hides all the videos.” I, obviously easily riled up, said “What?! Why are you remarried so soon? And why would you remarry a woman who hides the videos!”
Some escalating back and forth ensued while our children are watching, confused. “Wait… what do you mean when you are gone!?!” It took me quite a while to calm down from that. (My husband is a bear poker, he knows how to calm me down, but he’d rather rile me up. Such is the story of soul mates.) And here’s what you already know:
Our brains don’t discriminate between the stories we are telling ourselves and the things that are true. What story are you making up and then worrying about? Is it that people are judging you? Is it that people don’t like you? Is it that you aren’t a “math person?” Is it that you are lazy? All of that is a choice- these are stories you are choosing to tell about yourself. And that choice has consequences. Once you’ve said it, your brain is going to respond. Get worried, see the world through that lens, build up the back story to support it, turn it into a belief, and then you’re stuck. Watch out for the stories you are telling yourself. Choose the good ones.
I was walking down 5th avenue on my way to a networking event last night when this question struck me like a bolt of lightening:
“What if I can’t really create a successful business? Should you stick with your business or give the whole thing up? Who am I to think I can truly, actually, do this… for REAL?” My heart beat a little faster and a for a split second I was tempted to give it all up. “Just kidding! Never mind! I’ll just go back to my much less stressful existence as a professor and consultant and actually have time to do things like watch TV or read a book.”
Have you noticed that everyone is talking about the Law of Attraction these days? The Law of Attraction is the idea that whatever you focus on (good or bad) will be attracted to you like a magnet. So, if you think about rolling around in a large pile of money (a la Scrooge McDuck) money will be attracted to you. If you focus on scarcity then continued money problems await. Can this be true? Is there really such thing as a “universal law of energy”?
Maybe? I’m not so sure.
I have, on the other hand, experienced some very strong luck or good fortune in my day. Receiving exactly what I wanted. Manifesting opportunities “out of the blue.” Serendipity, as it were.
Here are a few example:
Do you groan when you hear the word, “networking?” It might feel like this painful, corporate thing you’re supposed to do. Perhaps it feels like a dangerous game of small talk roulette: at any moment someone will try to sell you something. Certainly, everyone can think of a time when going to a networking event left them feeling mentally wrung out.
Listen: I FEEL YOU. Until fairly recently, I hated it, too!
In the past year, I’ve made the decision to partner with a business coach so that I can level up my business and really conquer the challenges that scare me. When we began our work, one of the first challenges she identified was my outright dislike of networking. I didn’t think I was the kind of person who networks well. I felt that it was counter to my identity to do so and I just plain DID NOT WANT TO. (Do you notice that these are the classic hallmarks of a mindset block?)
So, challenge number one from my coach was to start going to 1 or 2 networking events every week. My goal at these events is to meet cool people- people who might want to be my clients, and people I might want to collaborate with. Because I’m extremely coachable, I dove right in. Fortunately, I’m in NYC and you can find at least 20 networking events on any given day. The very first one I went to was a happy hour for a product management program. Not exactly my ideal client, but a good place to practice without pressure! Continue reading
You know how it goes- you’ve procrastinated as long as you possibly can and now, at 7pm, you sit down to finally write the blog, prepare the report, or outline the paper that has been hanging over your head all day. As you sit down to write you feel panicked and exhausted; your self-control is out the window.
Not the best recipe for success!
This used to happen to me all the time. In graduate school, I would often write papers that important people would read and judge me upon. Those people decided on what opportunities came my way and my future job prospects would hinge on their good word. So those papers mattered a lot.
Despite that pressure (or, perhaps, because of it) I’d spend all day avoiding it before forcing myself to sit down and do the work. I’d trick myself to get started (I’ll just write an outline!) and then before I knew it I would be working away with no resistance…but not for long. I’m a morning person and at around 9pm my brain begins to shut down completely. Since I began at 7, I’d be too tired to go on after only a couple of hours of work.