We’re all a little scared of something, but sometimes even the smallest brave act can have the biggest change when we need it most. LWTL’s Stacy Rinella tackles this topic and looks at some examples of women choosing to conquer the fears that have been holding them back.

 

I was recently inspired by an act of bravery. My mom is 64, and though very independent, has never used a freeway as a source of transportation. If there is somewhere she needs to be, she takes side streets and back roads to get there. But just last week she needed to get to the small town where my grandparents live. This time she needed her car with her, so her reliable seat on the train just would not do. My sister and I were willing to move heaven and earth to get my mom to Grandma’s without her having to deal with freeway phobia, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She decided she was going to face this fear once and for all. Success!

This courageous act got me thinking about fears. Some are just slightly irritating or inconvenient: spiders, the dentist, public washrooms. Or there are the other kinds, which can sabotage us from getting what we want or deserve. Has fear of rejection, confrontation, or perhaps the biggest of them all, fear of failure, limited you?

Don’t feel badly— fears are something we all deal with. For example, a big one is the fear of public speaking. A 2013 study in the National Institute of Mental Health revealed 75 per cent of American Women have glossophobia, i.e. speech anxiety. Psychology Today explains that the fear of failure is more likely a fear of shame, and the inability to deal with the feelings of anger, frustration or disappointment.

So, should we attempt to conquer our fears, or live out life occasionally being inconvenienced or spending precious time thinking “what if?” Certainly there is no concrete answer. But there are definitely perks from tackling what scares us. If you think you’re on the verge of your own act of bravery, consider the personal experiences of two successful career gals- Lindsay and Alicia, who share their thoughts below. By tackling what scared them, their days at the office have been spent walking tall.

 

Change Your Lingo: Lindsay, age 38, Mississauga, ON

“My corporate career has always been in a management position but somehow I always felt like runner-up to the boss, always in her shadow.— until I realized it was as simple as switching around a word. I decided I needed to replace the word “fear” with the word “confidence”!

On a daily basis I am expected to make strategy and revenue-impacting decisions. However with my boss listening to every word, it had created a lack of confidence. I found myself afraid to make the tough decision for fear of “what will she think” or “is that what she would do”? Therefore I was always deferring to her expertise instead of taking the chance of getting it right or learning from getting it wrong.

Now I have discovered that putting the fear of “what will my boss think of me?” aside and going with a “I stand by my decision!” attitude has propelled my career and actually gained the respect of my boss and colleagues within my company. “

 

Baby Steps: Alicia, 32, Toronto, ON

“About a year ago, the brand I worked for was acquired. Six months into working for them I was asked to attend a sales meeting in San Francisco and give a two-hour presentation covering the past, present and future of the brand. Not knowing where my future was headed with the company, I was inclined to decline. I nearly did. At the time I convinced myself it wasn’t worth the effort if my journey wouldn’t ultimately continue with them.

Now I know the real reason I nearly bailed on the opportunity— it was fear. Ahh public speaking! Not many can claim it’s something they enjoy, and least of all me. But I gathered up all the courage I had, and went and did the presentation. I can’t say that I killed it— imagine dry mouth and “umms” galore. But I did it, and I got my points across and despite losing all peripheral vision in the process, I was told I did well.

I later realized that the presentation was my “interview” and I’ve been very fortunate to stay on with this company and do a job I love. I can’t say my phobia is completely cured. Some public speaking events still call for a prerequisite glass of wine. With baby steps I’m getting there though. I’ve since joined Toastmasters and my confidence is growing by the day.Nothing can top the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with winning the battle of what we are afraid of. Plus, wouldn’t life be that much better with new-found self-confidence, or the feeling of brimming with self-esteem? And yes, it’s okay to even stumble a few times on your adventure.”

 

For more inspiration, head over to these posts where women speak about conquering their fears, big and small:

  • To Vogue or Bust’s Alex Grant on her experience of facing her childhood fear of biking
  • Julia Millay Walsh discusses her bucket list of things to do before turning 30, including traveling alone, moving to a new city and trying things that scare you- from skydiving to making a difficult phone call. We think this is a great list, no matter your age!
  • In this interview  Stephanie Jagger speaks about her “aha moment” on a ski lift when saw the “Raise Your Restraining Device” sign, and decided to embark on a round-the-world ski trip- unintentionally setting a world record for most vertical feet skied in one year in the process

 

Share your thoughts or personal experiences in the comments section below. How are you working to conquer your fears?