I recently set myself the challenge to hold 100 Fearless Conversations in a month. My aim was to understand what it means to be fearless. I wanted to dissect fear. I wanted to dive deep into the drivers that lead each and every one of us to behave in different ways when facing our greatest insecurities. What makes us recognise fearlessness when we see it? How can we handle fear? Where are we similar; where are we different?
In the coming weeks, I will share some of the insights I had and the lessons I learnt from the wonderful people who participated in this challenge.
Rob Crews of Find a Spark is one of them. When Rob suggested writing about our fearless conversation, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to share his own experience. This guest blog is a glimpse of his personal story and the result of his reflections and insights. I am grateful he chose to share some of them with us.
In early September 2016 I took part in Ben’s 100 Fearless Conversations challenge. Whilst I was aware of a number of fears that were holding me back, I hadn’t really explored them in detail. Now was the time – we had an hour booked in to chat.
Ben’s conversation style made it really easy and comfortable to open up and delve into the details of my fears and blockers. We drilled things down, looking for the underlying thought processes behind my fears. Although we covered a number of topics, one in particular has really stuck with me – fear of external expectation.
My background is similar to Ben’s – I left a job in investment banking, switching to entrepreneurial endeavours. I became my own boss and quickly fell in love with my newfound freedom. I defined my timetable, my projects, how I spent my time.
I had aspirations that made sense to me. I had plans for achieving those aspirations. I knew that I was heading in the right direction – things felt right.
But I still wasn’t totally calling the shots.
Through a mixture of habit and human nature, I looked to external sources for confirmation that I was doing the ‘right’ thing. Particularly in times of self-doubt, I allowed myself to be steered by external expectation.
This expectation came in many, many forms. The comments and judgments of those around me indicated (in my mind at least) what those people expected from me. I analysed what other people were doing with their lives, forming an impression of what society expected from me. I wanted to please everyone – I wanted to do the ‘right’ thing.
Managing such a wide and unclear range of expectations quickly became a juggling act. I’d make what I deemed to be the best decision, but I’d feel bad if I felt I wasn’t meeting someone’s expectations.
Prior to speaking to Ben I had already realised that the situation was unmanageable – I simply couldn’t juggle all of those expectations. Although I’d already begun to find the answers, talking the situation through with Ben helped solidify things in my mind.
At the core of my new mindset was one simple reminder.
I am not the same as anybody else.
I am different from all the people whose comments indicate their expectation of the ‘right’ thing to do.
I am different from all those people doing different things with their lives.
Nobody has to be wrong or right – they’re just different situations. A person’s expectations could apply perfectly to their life and their aspirations but not apply in any way to my own.
Thinking about things practically, meeting everyone’s expectations is impossible. Why? Because those expectations often contradict each other – one person can quite easily expect the exact opposite to someone else. I find this thought pretty liberating – if something is impossible to achieve, why bother attempting it? And if there’s no point in doing it, there’s no reason to be anxious about not doing it.
So now when I think ‘person X has completed project Y in 2 weeks! Why did it take me a month?’, I return to that one simple reminder – I am not the same as anybody else. Perhaps that person had zero other commitments, whilst I had many. Perhaps I don’t have the full picture.
I can learn from others and follow their advice when I see fit. But I define my own expectations.
I am not the same as anybody else.
Rob Crews is founder of Find A Spark. Rob identifies the practical problems that stop us from succeeding with our goals and then writes about the actions we can take to overcome them. He blogs regularly and has recently released his interactive Inspiration to Action eBook series which dedicates a chapter to each problem that he’s identified. He’s always available on Facebook and Twitter (@findasparkrob) to talk about self-motivated goals and projects – whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur or working on a personal project.