This week I had the privilege to address our top 40 clients. My objective was to present the work of my marketing team and then introduce new learning on personal branding that I felt would have a big impact on their business. I felt confident in my content.
Two days before my presentation I started to feel the feels. Physically, a knot began to form in my stomach and just continued to grow bigger and bigger while mentally the self-doubt and negative thoughts completely took over. I recognized these feelings because I do get them almost every time I have to present, and I refer to them as…The Chills. I am not referring to the chills you feel when you have a fever, flu, or COVID. I am referring to the chills you feel when watching a scary movie or when you think you hear a noise outside in the middle of the night. The chills you feel when you are downright scared. When we get scared our brain will kick in to help us find the quickest path to safety i.e., shutting off the scary move or waking up your partner at 2:00 am to ensure the doors are locked in the house.
As I was preparing for my presentation and feeling these chills my path back to safety was to back out of the presentation altogether. At that moment I just wanted to eliminate the threat so the chills would go away. My mind started to think about all the excuses I could give to the meeting planner to get myself out of this. I knew if I took that path whatever excuse I chose would be accepted and life would go on just fine. However, I also knew I would be letting down my future self if I took that path. Chills and all, I chose to follow through on my commitment.
The chills are normal and necessary when you are doing something scary the fortunate and unfortunate thing is, is that in most situations that “something scary” is typically going to elevate your personal development. What I mean is that you cannot have one without the other. You cannot have personal growth if you back out of the scary or uncomfortable things that give you the chills. Asking for a raise, putting your hat in the ring to lead a new project, or confronting a colleague or boss are all necessary and all scary things to do. You will get the chills before doing each one of them. Fight them, here is how:
Recognize what you are feeling and allow yourself to feel it.
Try to pinpoint exactly what is making you feel scared. Do you not feel prepared for the presentation or conversation you need to have? Are you not clear on the outcome you are looking to achieve? Are you nervous you will forget everything you want to say and go blank (me)? Are you nervous about the other person’s reaction?
Work through the above problem.
If you do not feel prepared, devote more time to preparing. If you are not clear on the outcome
you are looking to achieve, devote more time to seeking clarity. If you are nervous you will go blank, practice, or role-play more. Competence breed confidence.
What is not okay to do is to back out of whatever it is giving you the chills in the first place. Feel them but do your thing anyways. That is the choice I made, and I could not be prouder of myself. You will feel the same.