Excerpt: Unstoppable Women: Achieve Any Breakthrough Goal in 30 Days
By Cynthia Kersey
Unstoppable Action: Acknowledge Fear, Prepare, and Then Act
Loreena McKennitt knew that to succeed on her own terms, she needed more than musical talent and passion. She needed to educate herself about the music business.
So she developed a step-by-step plan to become a savvy music businessperson: running her fledgling label, figuring out how to do media and publicity, and learning about taxes, agents, and contracts.
By taking things a step at a time and preparing along the way, she reduced her risk of failure and kept herself from becoming overwhelmed.
Were there times when she was fearful? You bet. Fear is a natural reaction to change. It's the number one reason people hesitate to start anything new, opting instead for the way things are -- safe, comfortable, and familiar.
It's important to realize that everyone experiences fear when venturing into unknown territory. It is a natural response. The difference between stoppable and unstoppable people is their response to fear.
Unstoppable people acknowledge fear and manage it by confronting the cause and determining how they can prepare for the challenge ahead. They decide on certain actions that will enable them to feel as competent and confident as possible.
As women, we tend to be more uncomfortable with risk than men are; there are two major reasons for this difference. First, we have significantly lower levels of testosterone, the hormone behind aggressiveness, competitiveness, risk-taking, and high sex drive. Second, women have historically been trained to revere security, not risk.
Columbia University's Carol Dweck, Ph.D., one of the world's leading researchers on emotional development, says that women fear risk because they fear making mistakes.
"Women take less risks because they don't want to expose their inadequacies. They see inadequacies as permanent deficiencies rather than things that can be learned over time."
For example, when a woman is applying for a job and is asked if she can do something she knows little about, she'll say no, Dr. Dweck says. On the other hand, men say, "Sure," meaning, "Sure, I can learn." They don't want to expose inadequacies.
Many women, particularly bright women, see inadequacies as permanent deficiencies rather than things that can be remedied. Often, women will not think of the learning that will take place on the job and how they can grapple with that as time goes on, but will instead focus on the skills that they lack and the gap between what they know now and what they need to know.
As young girls, many of us were perfect and got a lot of praise for being good little girls. And it becomes a standard that we can't live up to and we're afraid of falling from that standard.
Let's take a lesson from the men. If we want to move into new territory and make a change in our lives, it's important to let go of the expectation of needing to know everything up front. This is unrealistic and holds us back.
My personal strategy for approaching any new undertaking has always been to prepare thoroughly. Whether I'm giving an important sales presentation or speaking in front of a large audience, I never "wing it." Initially, the task may seem intimidating, but the more prepared I am, the more confident I become.
To overcome fear, we must prepare as best we can and then plunge ourselves into the very thing we fear most. Only by taking risks can we build our confidence.
Finally, don't be surprised if you don't get initial support from others when you take a risk. Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, "All truth goes through three steps. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
Schopenhauer asserted that only 3 percent of people ever embrace a new truth during the first two stages, when their lives can be truly transformed. Ninety-seven percent wait for the self-evident stage, when embracing the new idea is safe and socially acceptable. Unfortunately, by then it's too late for any real opportunities.
By taking a risk, you are refusing to let fear create regrets for you. Instead, you are opening yourself to a world of new, exciting opportunities.
Is the risk worth the reward?
Are you experiencing fear and anxiety about your ability to achieve your breakthrough goal? Perhaps you've been putting off a particularly daunting step you need to take to achieve your 30-day goal?
Take some time to think about what concerns you the most about this step. Acknowledge your fear -- but don't stop there. Brainstorm some ways you could prepare to take this step.
Preparation is the key to taking fear out of the unknown. Of course, you'll never be able to foresee everything that could happen, but by preparing for the most likely scenarios, you'll feel more comfortable.
Then go ahead and plunge yourself into the thing you've been fearing -- remember, the first step is the hardest! And once you've taken the risk, you'll be on your way to reaping the rewards.
Risk is the fuel behind all growth, all greatness. I've coached people who didn't achieve their 30-day goal in 30 days, but still said it was the most transformational experience of their lives.
Why? For the first time, they had a plan and understood the mindset necessary to make real changes in their lives. They were in action! That is success! If we focus on what we gain through the process of trying and risking and see how we've grown and learned, we win.
Reprinted from: Unstoppable Women: Achieve Any Breakthrough Goal in 30 Daysby Cynthia Kersey. © 2005 Cynthia Kersey.
Cynthia Kersey's first book, Unstoppable, was published in 13 languages. She is president of Unstoppable Enterprises, Inc., and her Unstoppable Foundation provides tools, resources, and funds to disadvantaged women and children throughout the world. For more information, please visit www.unstoppable.net
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