In this episode, I explore the fear of doing something scary and offer three methods to overcome it.
Key takeaways include:
- Doing scary things can help people and make a positive impact
- Face your fears and acknowledge potential judgment
- Consider who you want to be in moments of fear
- Embrace courage as you step into the unknown
Want to read more about how storytelling is a powerful leadership skill? See this article from Harvard Business Review about how it can make or break your leadership. Or this article about how it can drive change, this one about how it moves people, or this one about how it can help you land your next job.
well, Hey there, I'm Liz St. Jean, and this is the Rise in your Nine to Five podcast. Where I help quietly ambitious leaders who want to have meaningful and fulfilling careers, making an impact in the world. It's where strategy meets intuition to become a better leader with more joy, less stress and endless impact.
So let's break free from perfectionism, imposter thoughts. And that inner rule keeper that keeps you in a career comfort zone. It's time to become unapologetically you. And step into the life you were meant to live. We're going to talk presence, productivity, and having it all. Or as my four-year-old would say, we're going to take over the world. So let's get to it.
Before I kick things off. I wanted to let you know that I did work on something though over this last month. And I would love for you to check it out. It is called the imposter syndrome workbook for mid-level leaders. You can get email@example.com slash workbook.
You should absolutely check it out. It is. A compilation of some of my best activities around overcoming imposter syndrome. And I use a framework that I've very, very tongue in cheek called the perfect system. So go check that out. It's a fantastic workbook for you to really think through, give you some reflections is very comprehensive . So again, that's at the mint ambition.com/workbook. The imposter syndrome workbook for mid-level leaders. Go check it out.
Well, Hey there, friend. Today. I wanted to talk about something that comes up. Quite a lot for people who feel imposter syndrome feelings. Whether it's full blown imposter syndrome all the time, or just little sparks of imposter syndrome feelings every now and then. And it's the idea of doing something that scares you? Now. I think most of us want to be that person, right.
The person who does the thing that scares us. We can. I read all the articles, listen to all the podcasts, read all the books about the benefits and we can aspire to be that person. But when it comes right down to it to actually doing the thing that scares you. I always think about. The idea of Teflon, like our brain is it's like a little bit like Teflon it, shies away from doing that thing.
So if you've ever cooked with a Teflon frying pan, and especially, I always think about cooking eggs on it, I don't know why, but the idea of cooking eggs on Teflon comes to mind for this because you put a little bit of oil in the Teflon pan and you are frying your egg. And then have you ever tried to flip that egg and, you know, That takes a bit of skill.
Like your, you know, you've got your spatula out. You've got the Teflon with a little bit of oil and that dang egg just goes like slippery slidey all over that Teflon pan. You know, Maybe it's just me, but maybe you can relate to this, you know, you're holding onto that frying pan and kind of doing it sideways, trying to figure out how to get it to flip before it cooks too much cause you want the perfect egg. Uh, if you've ever had that moment, like, that's what I think about our brain does when it comes to something that's scary, our brain just goes like Teflon, sliding around, just trying to avoid it. And we come up with all kinds of ways to avoid it. And even if we are completely aware, like raise your hand, if you're with me, you're like watching yourself. And you're completely aware that you're avoiding it and you're just like, yep, totally voiding it right now.
Right. You gotta go do something scary, but instead you, well, I, you know what the bathroom really needs to be cleaned. Really got to clean that bathroom or, oh, I should, I should get a workout in. Yes, workouts are good. That's a good thing. And our brain kind of latches on to things that feel safe, feels comfortable, feels, you know, like you're wrapping yourself in a really comfy robe and curling up. That's what your brain wants to feel. And. And it, of course it does.
Right. If you've read anything in the last kind of five to 10 ish years, it's becoming more and more common to talk about. Um, the brain science behind that is. And there's different disputes actually really interesting. Fascinating. Good. I go down some rabbit holes around the, the brain science of it, but it ultimately boils down to our brain is hardwired to keep us safe. And comfort as safety.
And it's also hardwired to spend as least amount of effort as possible. Like by nature, like if we just listen to our instincts, we would expend the least amount of effort. Possible. So keep us safe, spend little effort. And doing things that scare us feels like we're not going to be safe. And it's going to take effort and on top of it to do the scary thing, takes effort, kind of like a metal level of it.
Right. It's so the scary thing is going to take effort. And it might hurt us, but on top of it, It really does take effort. Like it takes. Mental fortitude, emotional calming to do that scary thing. So of course our brain doesn't want to do it. And of course our brain is a bit like Teflon when it comes to it's like, no, no, no.
We're going to slide away just like that Friday on the Teflon slide away from the scary thing. So it all makes sense and we know it rationally, right? That rational, logical place that you're listening to me. Now, whether you're out for a walk, maybe you are doing the dishes. Maybe you were at your kid's hockey practice or soccer practice, wherever you are listening to this. You rationally understand this?
There's there's a very good chance. I'm not even telling you anything you haven't heard before, right? But then the question is, well, so how do I do it? Right? Like what do I actually do? And I'm going to share a few ways that, that I do it. And in the hopes that one of those could help you. Um, You might find other ways of doing it, but I hopefully one of these methods or perhaps all three of them. I'm going to share three methods will help you in doing that scary thing. So the reason I'm doing it this week.
So right now I'm recording. It is December 16th. I'm recording this and I just finished a week. That had two major scary things for me. So I thought that was a really perfect time for me to share with you my method for doing scary things, because it's something that I've really worked out over the years.
Right. I think, you know, that the reason I do this is because I've had to work over my imposter syndrome over and over and over. And I really developed a. Uh, resilience to those fears. When they come up, I recognize them. I can work through them and it means that I can work through those scary feelings and it's, and I even think back, I think back to the who I was. 10 15, 20 years ago. And. You know, scary thing. As long as we're growing.
If as long as we are pushing ourselves, We are going to face scary things. So I don't want to give you this false hope that, you know, suddenly one day things don't feel scary. I'm not going to give you that false hope because I don't believe in it. I believe that if you are challenging yourself, you will always have scary things.
And that's a good thing. I think that is a good thing, because that means that you are pushing yourself out of that. You're stepping out of that comfort zone. You're getting into what I call the courage zone. Right. And the moment. You no longer see things as a Kurd zone. To me, that means that. That your comfort zone has grown and maybe you're right in the middle of that comfort zone.
Right. When we face scary things, it means we are on the edge. We are, we are challenging ourselves and that is a good thing. Okay. So this week, the scary things that I had, there were two things and they're very, very much related. So earlier this week, I attended a workshop. And for those of you on my email list, you will have seen me talk about this several times this week. Uh, because it links to the second, that scary thing.
So the workshop was about storytelling. And I'll put in the show notes, a number of articles, two H or a number of HBR articles that talk about the value and benefit of storytelling in the leadership context. Storytelling is such a skill. It provides people with context. It gives their brain something to latch on to, and it makes everything. Really engaging, which helps facilitate connection.
It re and it can really help motivate people, whether you're telling a story of your own experience or whether you are painting a vision kind of storytelling to the future, painting that vision. They're really, really powerful skills. So I really want to encourage you to consider your own storytelling.
This is kind of an aside, but I do want you to consider that. And the reason I'm taking it is because I want to become a better storyteller myself. I want to work on that skill. So I took the workshop and the first scary thing for me was that in this workshop, it wasn't just a sit passively back while someone reads. You know, slides. And then you walk away from it. It was definitely not that, no, it was, we, it was an active participation workshop.
We were sharing our stories. And it was, it was virtual. So it was so fascinating. You know, I've done, I've done a lot of trainings over the years, right? Uh, before my business, I did corporate trainings. Like I, I attended them since my business. I haven't done a lot of, of different workshops and programs in that related to. Podcasting to marketing to all kinds of things. I, and I did my coach training, which was an an eighth month solid program.
Hundreds of hours of transformative material.
And this workshop two days, it was only two days. It is really quite neck and neck for me with my own coach training in terms of the profound.
is that a word profoundness of what I experienced? We started the day and you know, there's 25 internet strangers on a screen. I'm sitting actually at the very same place I'm sitting right now. So I've got my white desk in front of me wearing my white Ikea desk in front of me, my laptop straight in front of me. I can see my two windows.
I'm looking out to the street, I've got these, you know, it's where I'm at right now. It's winter times. I've got snow on the ground. They. The trees have. They're so cool because all the leaves have fallen, but they've got it's that crisp winter feeling. I've got white drapes hanging down and I'm looking at this screen sitting on my, on my chair, which I love so much.
It's this. It's a swivel weight, swivel chair, just so beautiful. And it swivels, I love swivel chairs. And the case I'm looking at the screen 25 people and our host. We're all strangers. And one by one. Throughout those two days, we all shared stories. We shared. Funny stories. We'll share deep stories. We showed people are sharing heartbreaking stories of, of loss and, and family. Childhood experiences. You know, the trials and tribulations that they had experienced. And by the end of those two days, there was so much connection and so much love. For one another.
I've never experienced something like that in such a short period of time. It's very close to my coach training, but even that was a bit different. Like this was such an experience and it was because we were sharing stories. We were listening to each other. We were. We were being incredibly vulnerable with one another. And that can translate to leadership.
Like I said, right. There's there's N there's. Uh, connection that happens when you share a story with someone. So the first thing that was scary for me was, was to do that, was to share some of the stories, some of the pieces of myself that, that I've. Never shared outside of my very close friends. And in some of those stories. They, they likely won't even make it to my emails because they were so vulnerable, vulnerable.
Lots of us are sharing very vulnerable stories that don't quite make sense to share more broadly, more publicly. You know, Bernie Brown's talked about that before, where, you know, you want to be vulnerable, but you also want to be mindful right. Of how you're connecting. Who you're connecting with. So as a leader, you want to be vulnerable, but that doesn't mean that you, that doesn't mean, um, this is a, it's a little bit gross, but she says you don't want to, um, you don't want to vomit vulnerability all over them.
Right? Like people still want to see strength. They still want to see you as a leader. So there is an art to knowing what stories to share. What is the vulnerable piece to share? And what I love that our host shared, and I've, I've heard this in other places too, but we really, we really worked through it over these two days is that you, you share from the scar. Not from the wound. Right.
So if you are still going through something, experiencing something, right, it's still a wound for you. You're very, you still feel very touched by it, right? Like if you think about something like in. Um, Uh, cut. I was getting a little bit gross, but like it cut that you touch it hurts. Right? If you're sharing that, that not only can hurt you, but it's also can be very uncomfortable for other people, especially if you're in a leadership position to them. But once it's healed and it's a scar and you can share that experience.
That's a wonderful thing to share with people because it shows that vulnerability, they can see you as being human. Um, So we learn in these two days about the different types of stories to share. And for me, It was really scary to open myself up and to share in that kind of forum and that live forum where I'm speaking live and sharing my story live because for the most part, you know, I do share on here on the podcast, but that's pre recorded. And I mean, for the most part, I don't know if you would know this or not, but for the most part, I, I do just kind of speak and I, I share, I do the podcast, you know, it's not prescripted. I don't do a ton of editing. But it doesn't feel as hard because no, one's watching me.
I get to do it on my own time. I don't have anyone. You know, sitting there in circle, looking at me. Um, so that was really scary. It was really scary to, to do that. And, and I did it, you know, I, and, and I'm going to, again, I'm going to talk about the methods that I use and what goes through my mind. Um, And then the other scary thing that's linked to it. Is that. You know, w we talked a lot in the. In the workshop about sharing our story through email. That is actually the primary purpose of the, of the workshop is. Self was about storytelling too, too. Engage people through email.
And how can you translate your stories into amazing emails? And so if you're on my email list, you would've seen the last few days, I've really opened up more working on sharing my own story through email, working on, working on honing that, that skill, the storytelling skill. And in the sense of being able to share an engaging story and connect with people. So on Friday.
So yesterday. I was out for a walk. And as I was walking, I was thinking about my email and, you know, I, I, my email is knows. I email every kind of one to two days, but I've never done an eight daily email. And this was something that a lot of people were talking about. At the workshop and for a lot of us, It strikes fear into our heart about sending date dealing emails. 'cause we can't help, but think, well, what will people think about us that won't that being annoying?
People won't want it like. Everyone will unsubscribe will be unsubscribed. You know, it's really, really scary the idea of doing something like that. And there were several people in the workshop who do send daily emails and they were talking about the, the beauty of it and the connectedness. And also the beauty of saying, you know, if. Someone's not in relating to your content, like that might not be your person.
So they sh they'll unsubscribe and they, they won't. They won't feel that connection and that's okay too. And that does also relate to leadership and leading. And I'm going to talk about that when I share my methods of how I dealt with it. And. What I decided to do is I thought I want to step into this.
I want to step into the scary feeling and I'm going to give myself a challenge. I'm going to do, you know, one of those. Challenges I've ever done a challenge. I haven't really done a lot of them myself. Um, I'm going to be running one in January. So stay tuned for that. I'm going to run a different kind of challenge.
A five day challenge. I thought, you know, I'm going to do this for 30 days. I'm going to do this. And it is, it feels really scary, but it also feels really good. It feels really good to step into that scary place. So with that, then. It was a long intro. Let me jump into these three things. I want to teach you about what to do when something feels scary. So. For me, number one, the number one most helpful thing to think about when I, when I want to do something that's scary is. Thinking this will help people. This will help people. So, whatever it is that I'm doing, I'm motivated by the idea of like, what is the contribution?
What is the impact? What is the ripple effect that it has. So in the case of my daily email challenge, I wrote in the email. So yesterday, if you're on my email list, you would have seen. I wrote in my email that I invited people to also work on their storytelling. And what I invited them to do is to see when you see my email coming, your inbox is. The daily email comes in your inbox. You don't even have to open it.
Like you don't have to necessarily read it. I w I would love for you to be, to be engaged and to read it, of course, but you don't even have to do what I want you to do is I want you to see that as your daily prompt to think about your day. To think about the stories that happened that day. So I'm not even asking people to necessarily tell daily stories or even tell stories at all per se, but just to think about their day. And so that really helped me work through that fear.
I'm thinking about how will this help people? How will this benefit people? How will this have an impact? How will this make a contribution? And I know if you are listening to my podcast and you're the kind of person who wants to have a meaningful career, you're the kind of person who wants to make impact, who wants to contribute. Who wants to create ripple effects who wants to eat?
You're not, you're probably, you're probably actually. I'm quite confident. You're not the cruder person who wants to be the biggest person. You know, the most, um, powerful, um, the most, um, sort of looking for like the celebrity most, um, well-known word for, I can't think of it. And yeah, I think, you know what I mean?
Right. You're not looking for you, but you are looking to have. Impact. You want to have a meaningful career? And you want to do things that are bigger than yourself. So when something feels scary, hold onto that, how will this help people? How will this make impact and thinking. This is scary, but it's worth it. Hey, this is scary.
That's the other piece to acknowledge to yourself? Like it is Carrie that's. Okay. Like I said earlier, it's okay. That you're doing something scary and to acknowledge it and to acknowledge that you're scared and just do this, just sit with it. Not trying to mask it over, not try to pretend that you're not scared or not feeling. Um, embarrassed or feeling anything else about the fear itself and just being like, this is scary.
I am doing something that scares me now. And I'm doing it because it will help people.
That's number one, this will help people.
Number two. Very much related to that. Scare side of things is about. Facing your fears. Facing our fear and especially. Very very likely the fear is coming from at its core. Uh, fear, fear of judgment. So a lot of people who have imposter syndrome type feelings. Are what's called a high self-monitor. So this is a term I first learned. From, uh, Dr.
Brian Little psychologist. And it's the concept that when you're a high self-monitor, you're very aware of the impact you have on others. But also what other people are thinking about you. How they see you. How they judge you. So high self monitors. It is actually quite a super skill. And you've probably whether you're aware of it or not.
This has probably been one of your super skills is that you are aware of the impact you're having and you're able to adjust to it. Right. You're able to pick up on things and make adjustments. But the challenge. When you're a high self-monitor and you care about others, right. That's which has such so profound to be that kind of person. The challenge is that you can also get really caught up in overthinking.
What do people think about me? What do people think about what I'm doing? And it can go down the rabbit hole or the, um, like a spiral of self doubt negative self-talk because of the fear. What if they don't like me? What if I make a mistake, what if they think I'm an idiot? Like all those kinds of mean girl in our chatter. That everyone has that. Inner chatter that happens. And when you're a high self monitor, it just kicks it up to a new level. So facing the fear of this is, is, and this might be a hard one for some people.
So you either sit with it or skip over it. If it's not helpful, if it just amplifies the fear, you can skip over this. But I do find this actually, this quite helps me. And I've talked about this with my clients. Facing the fear as recognizing that. People will have judgments about us. Right. People will gossip about us.
People will talk about us. Humans do that. Um, if you didn't know, I did my graduate research. So you have, uh, did graduate work on organizational leadership and, and, uh, leadership development. And my, uh, research thesis was around the role of gossip in cross-functional teams. So that's where I did. Went down a whole rabbit hole into both teams, but especially into gossip. And I can tell you that humans gossip. And part of it actually relates to what I've been talking about on this episode around storytelling. People gossip, the main reason, the primary there's other reasons too, but the primary central. Natural, like, um, just in our bones reasons for gossiping. Is for what's called sense-making. We're trying to make sense of the world and because we're social creatures, we're trying to make sense of our social relationships.
And it remember what I said about the brain, trying to keep us safe. We are trying to make sure that we know who can be trusted and who can't be. We are trying to, we want to pass that information and want to receive that information. That's why people gossip that's the most at its core fundamental reason that people gossip. And that's why it's really hard. Not to gossip.
So just as a little bonus tip, I will say. Like, if you're a person who you never talk about others, like Bravo to you, because you were a unicorn. Almost all humans. Most will, will gossip can't help it. It's just it's in our DNA. So the bonus tip I give to you, if you're, if you're not the unicorn who doesn't gossip, if you catch yourself, What I want you to do is start practicing, catching yourself, talking about others and turn it to the positive, right?
Because our brain is also going to turn to the negative all the time. And because of the threat, right? That whole piece of brain training, our brains are keeping us safe. We want to see if there's any threat in our, in our organization or with our relationships actively turn to the positive. Whenever you can start catching ourself.
There's a little bonus tip. I didn't even have planned. Okay. So going back to facing your fear, the fact that people do gossip. People do have thoughts about others. People do have judgments. Okay. I don't want to sugar coat this. I don't want us to live in kind of a Lala land where we pretend that everything is fairies and unicorns and, you know, Sprinkles fall from the sky.
Like we don't, that's not, that's not the reality. People do talk. So here's what I want you to imagine. Okay, you're going to do the scary thing. And you're afraid that people will judge you. Instead of thinking about like, oh, what will people say, right. Which is that, then it's almost like, imagine a crowd in front of you.
And we're thinking, oh my God, what if they think badly of me? People will have judgements. But not everyone is going to have a negative judgment. So I want you to think of it instead that imagine that the people who are responding to this it's like 50, 50, 50% of them. We'll have some form of. Negative thought or judgment, and it might be very mild and last for two seconds, they move on. Others might be stronger.
It might happen. It doesn't happen all that. Often. I will tell you that, right. People are much more concerned with our own lives than with someone else's life. So usually doesn't last for that long. But, but it could, I get, I don't want to sugar coat things for you. Like, I don't think that's helpful. But I want you to think that that's only 50%. The other 50%. Love. What you did. They love you.
They think it's wonderful. They're inspired by it, right? You're stepping up as a leader, you're doing something scary. And you're motivating them. There they feel motivated. They're feeling bigger. They feel energized by what you've done. Okay. Think of it that way. And I want, I want what I do. I think about the 50% that are going to be inspired. Hey. I, it goes back to that piece.
This will help people. I think about that 50%. And I just recognize that there'll be another 50% that will have different thoughts. And that's okay. That's okay. And the reason it's okay. Is number three, my number three thing that the way I approach doing scary things is I ask myself. Who do I want to be?
In this moment facing the scary thing, knowing that 50% of the room we're going to have those thoughts about me. Who do I want to be? In this moment.
And who do I want to become?
And I want to be the person who is thinking about the 50% that's motivated by this. It's inspired by this. That's who I want to be in this moment. I want to become the person. Who thinks about that? Who stands up? Who does those scary things? And tries and maybe falls down. Hey, it happens again. We don't want to pretend that these it's not hard. Right.
I don't think that's helpful. I think it's helpful to recognize that I want to become the person who tries. And falls and gets back up. Who tries. Oh, and doesn't fall. This time keeps going. Who tries, who steps into that scary place, steps into that courage place. That's who I want to become. So it's not about not having fear. Right. It's about having courage in those moments. I think courage is the most powerful thing, more than confidence. As much as we all want to, we want confidence.
It's kind of like chasing, we're kind of chasing confidence. Confidence will there'll always be more confidence to chase. I want you to have courage. To be sitting in that place of courage. And yes, there are days and there are times where you're going to be like today, I'm doing comfort zone and you go today.
I'm just going to respond to the emails. W because of other things in life, right? We are holistic people. We are whole people. We can't expect ourselves to always be showing up in a certain way. That's too much pressure. That's too much expectation. But in this moment, do you think about in this moment I'm facing the scary thing? That will help people and I'm willing to face my fears. Who do I want to be?
Who do I want to become?
Those together. That's what I take together. To be able to do scary things.
To be able to step into that place of courage and do scary things. It's going to help people. I know I'm facing my fears. And I want to become that person.
So, who do you want to become? What's scary thing. Are you facing. You know what fear. Do you face, how will it help people? How will it help people?
So with that in Aleve, you, I know this was a longer episode than, than I often do. Um, hopefully that was helpful. I would love to hear from you. You can find me on Instagram at the mint ambition, you can find me on LinkedIn, Liz St. Jean, you can find me there. Join my email list. If you're listening to this in real time at Saturday, I'm about to send out my email to I list from my daily email challenge. And I wish for you to go out and do something scary and come find me and let me know, what is that scary thing you're going to do? So with that. Have a good one.
One last reminder we have the new imposter syndrome workbook that I highly recommend. So if you know that imposter thoughts can kind of swirl around your brain, the workbook is a really great resource to dig in and start thinking about how can you be more self-compassionate how do you shift yourself away from that imposter syndrome type thinking and into a more confident leadership presence mindset.
The workbook is at. the mint ambition.com/workbook. Go check it out. And with that, I will leave you for today and we will be back soon with more episodes. Have a good one.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Now, before you go, make sure you click to follow the show this way you don't have to go looking for the latest episode. I'll come to you. Just click the plus button or the follow, and you'll get the latest episode fresh off the press. Thanks again. And remember that you are amazing. Now, get out there and RISE.