Lean In

We all know that the greatest growth occurs when we are pushed out of our comfort zones. Why do so many choose the safe path? I think it’s simple. What we logically know is much different than what we may physically feel.

Often times, when I am working with a client who wants to BE more confident (not just that “fake it ‘til you make it” kind of confidence), we discuss direction and options. When I give assignments like, “What are you biggest fears?” we begin by talking about fear and the secret thoughts of failure. Often, those secrets are also tethered to their dreams as well. Crazy, right? It’s true. It’s not uncommon that our dreams scare the living hell out of us. They always seem to come back to our hidden fears.

One of the best ways to overcome a fear is to face it, to walk through it. Don’t just look at it. That is for weaklings. What I practice is moving through my fears. That is what being in sync is about–being so present that fear ceases to exist. Pretty awesome, right?

Here is what I suggest: CHANGE the way you see risk. Re-define what it is and means for you. Each and every one of us has the skill and ability to re-define the meaning of words for ourselves. It’s perfectly okay to do this. You don’t need anyone else to tell you what your “risk” is. It’s different for everyone. People are always trying to tell everyone else what their ideas are. But, we are all different. Find your own definition and move forward from there.
Sky diving may not be a risk for an “adventure junkie.” However, that same adventure junkie may find standing up and giving a public speech is absolutely mortifying.

Often, I am called in to coach those who have massive influence in organizations. I am their “secret coach.” I’ve worked with this client in private, so oftentimes, no one knows what was said or done with my client. Their missions (“tasks”) are unique to them in where they need and desire to grow.

I had one such executive—let’s call him “Dan.” Dan oversees 1000s of people and was responsible for operating budgets in the billions of dollars.

Confident, clear and always in the public eye, Dan wanted more insight as to how he acted. He had been trained with the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. Even though he had “made it,” inside he was still feeling like a fraud. After much contemplation, we decided on a mission that would push his limits so far out of his comfort zone that he would thrive from that point on.

The mission: go into a busy New York train station during peak hours. Lay down on the platform near busy foot traffic for 1 minute. Do not speak to others, if at all possible. Lay there for one minute–just being an observer. Watch his thoughts, his body’s reactions, and the reactions from others. Nothing more. After the one-minute time lapse, he was to get up and go note all the changes he experienced.

Our next conversation was prompted immediately after his experience. Dan was beside himself. His adrenaline was pumping, energy was vibrating high, thoughts were erratic and clear. His pre-conceived fear of what he thought people would think or do with him lying there on that platform was not at all what happened. It was all in his head. He then realized that the stories he tells himself often determined his outcomes.

Since that session, Dan has walked differently. Now he stands tall and with a comfortable swagger, not the “fake it ‘til you make it” cautionary walk (which, by the way, he only realized how much he had been lacking in confidence once he had gained true, authentic confidence). Lesson learned? The ego can be tricky. It will never tell you the depths of your “lacks,” it will only inflate the untruths.