An interview I listened to this week has been playing on my mind, one question in particular has stayed with me:
Interviewer: You’re in a situation where you are being called to be courageous, but the fear is real, it’s so real you can feel it in your throat. What’s the very first thing you do?
Interviewee: Speak the truth.
That simple exchange has got me really challenged. You see, ‘Truth’ is one of my values and since I heard that question and answer, I’ve been wondering, ‘Is that what I do when I’m being called to be courageous?’
Honestly, it’s not, at least not all the time. Many times, the first thing I do when I’m in a situation where I’m called to courage is shrink and armour up. I feel the fear and my pattern is to freeze and stay safe.
Part of me is thinking I should have the same answer as the interviewee, I should be able to speak the truth automatically and without reservation. I should be able to let go of the fear. But that’s bullshit.
Please hear that.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve spoken with many coaching clients who’ve been telling me how they should be able to get on with it, how they should be able to take the emotion out of their work and their interactions, how they should be able to ‘let it go’ or ‘suck it up’.
All of those shoulds, are also bullshit.
We are emotional beings. We like to think we are rational, thinking beings who occasionally get emotional. The truth is we are emotional beings who occasionally think rationally!
Please. If you’re going to work on letting go of anything, let go of the shoulds. Let go of trying to ‘take the emotion out of it’, whatever that means.
Instead, work on awareness. Catch yourself caught in one of your less helpful habits and name it. Naming it will help to slow things down and then you can choose how to proceed.
Name it to tame it and then make a choice.
Sounds so simple. It won’t be. But you can do it and you can keep building that skill until it becomes much easier and much more automatic.