A few days ago, I got an email about an opportunity to present at a conference in two months. My first response was, “Hit delete.” There was panic in my belly. I ignored the email for a few days.
The back story is that I’d been sick for the past few weeks, yet again, with bladder infections, felt generally run down, and in a state of difficult health. I was not feeling reliable. The other part of that back story is that in 20 years of public speaking, I’ve have had 3 experiences that left me ‘traumatized’. The first time, sitting on the dais for an hour, I drank a lot of water and walking to the podium, I lost bladder control (incontinence from a urinary infection). Luckily, a long jacket and black pants hid this from view– but I was distracted and uncomfortable. The next time, the podium lights were blazing hot and that heat is bad news with multiple sclerosis. My brain grew fuzzy and I had trouble finding words until I could cool myself with a glass of water. Those few seconds felt like hours. More recently, I was scheduled to give a live, on-camera interview. That morning, I woke with a pink, swollen eye that streaked down my face (a result of glaucoma issues). The make-up artist performed magic but I looked strange and felt worse.
The world didn’t end and the clients didn’t seem to notice but these moments left me reluctant to say “Yes” to public speaking.
That email continued to bug me. I needed to learn more so I could feel comfortable saying “No”!
When I did speak with the organizers, I learned they wanted a keynote, my least favorite public speaking role because it’s all or nothing. No rescheduling or delegating. That’s what makes the kind of coaching I do such a great fit. It’s tremendously satisfying and, best of all, I can deliver regardless of my health. On the plus side, they wanted the speech to describe what it’s like for employees who live and work with auto immune diseases. Piece of cake. This is the life that I, and all of my working clients, lead.
Have you been offered an opportunity that sounds great but you’re focusing on, ” I can’t do this. What if my body lets me down?”
Then, while working with a client around whether to accept a promotion, I realized that I was saying No without even considering Yes. I was letting emotions, primarily fear, guide my decision. I figured I should apply the same technique I shared with my client to my own dilemma.
These following steps helped me make a decision based on clear thought and allowed me to move from No to Yes.
Exploring my assumptions:
- Write down the primary assumptions that are spinning in your head. For each one, ask yourself, is this an undeniable fact or is there another way to look at this? I quickly saw that the only issue that really concerned me was whether health would prevent me from meeting the commitment. The fact is that unlike the first 20 years of illness, I can almost always show up for an event when I have to. And if I’m doing poorly, I can almost always adjust when I have to. Two facts that I let sink in.
- Ask yourself, What would I lose if I don’t accept this offer? What I would gain? On the loss side, I would lose some faith in myself because I would respond from fear rather than ‘can do’. I’d disappoint myself refusing a good financial opportunity. On the gain side, I might have more peace of my mind. But this wasn’t certain. I’d also continue to feel fear.
- Ask yourself, what would I lose if I accept this offer? What I would gain? On the loss, peace of mind but with the same questions as above. This thought seemed driven by emotion that didn’t feel right now. I could see the pluses: regain confidence in taking this risks, build my business and increase my income.
This morning I wrote the organizers a note with my interest and set the fee high enough to make it worth my effort. No matter how they respond, I made a choice that’s not guided by fear. It felt good.
My client didn’t accept the promotion offer but she, too, felt confident in her decision. When you stop to question your assumptions, it creates clarity, helps you feel more in balance and allows you to make decisions that feel right.
Obviously, some choices are bigger than others but even the smallest decision can be overwhelming when unpredictable health makes you afraid. What happens to you when you have to make a decision that requires a level of confidence in your health – – – that you don’t have?
What helps you get from No to Yes?