I have a huge fear. It feels silly to say it out loud, because I know that as an entrepreneur this fear holds me back. I have a fear of picking up the phone and calling people. This isn’t something that’s new to me. In my previous job, when given the choice between calling someone and sending them an email, I almost always chose the email. And my bosses noticed it.
As an entrepreneur, I know that this fear holds me back. So, I find other things to do. Hoping, or at least telling myself, that I don’t really have to call people. I’ll do this other thing instead and people will call me (I don’t mind that, I actually like that).
It ties in with last week’s post – I was doing what I wanted to do instead of what was challenging. It’s funny how everything kind of ties together.
Anyway, I realized a couple weeks ago that I want and need to overcome this fear. I just had NO idea of how to do it! At some point I remembered that I had this same fear feeling around leaving my house to go to networking events. The mental and physical feeling of dread and fear was almost the same. The difference is that I don’t have that feeling about networking events any more.
So, what did I do to move past the fear of networking? I went out and did it. I left my house at least once a week to go to some kind of networking event. I kept doing it and eventually, without really even noticing it, I didn’t dread it anymore. I actually look forward to it sometimes! I like meeting new people and saying Hi to the people I already know.
Based on that observation I could start calling people and eventually my fear and dread would decrease, right? But what would I talk to them about? This lead to my informal poll, I’ve been calling people over the last couple of weeks asking them some version of “What do you do to make sure that you’re getting the important things in your business done?” I also have a couple follow up questions.
Now I was armed with a reason to call – no reason not to pick up the phone and start dialing, right? Well, I had a lot of networking things I was doing that week and there were these other things that I really wanted to get done. Ok, so I had a lot of excuses and I told my accountability buddy that my goal was to talk to at least 10 people. So, excuses really wouldn’t cut it.
When I have things on my task list that I really don’t want to do, somehow the tasks before it take a much longer than I anticipate and I just run out of time. Do you ever have that problem? So, I scheduled it. I put a two-hour block of time on my calendar. It didn’t matter where I was with my other tasks for the day, during that two hour time period I would be making phone calls.
And you know what I noticed prior to that 2-hour scheduled time? More reasons, well actually excuses, not to do it. For example, the networking event I went to earlier in the day ran longer than I expected. Oh, and I got an email from someone that meant I could spend time doing some work for a committee I’m on. And, well, I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. Lots of little excuses popped up.
I was committed though and I really wanted to be able to say that I made those phone calls. So, when the scheduled time came, I sat down and started planning to make calls. Umm, yep, you read that right! I started planning how I was going to track the calls and keep track of responses. I caught myself about ten-minutes in and stopped planning and actually started calling people. Oh, and I added ten-minutes to the end time so I did spend a full two-hours making phone calls and I did talk to 10 people (and I left many voicemails).
When I had about 15 minutes left of my two hours I almost stopped. I figured I was close enough, right? I spent 1:45, that’s plenty long right? Well, if I had committed to spending 1:30 to making phone calls, then yes, 1:45 was plenty long. But I didn’t, I committed to spending 2-hours. So, I made a couple more phone calls and met my commitment to myself. Ever notice that sometimes those are the hardest commitments to keep?
So, what lessons have I learned going forward?
- Occasionally ask yourself “What am I avoiding?” Be open for the answer, whatever it is. And if you’re working with a coach – let them know that you want to take a look at that question. Your coach probably won’t tell you the answer, but they’ll definitely help you find it.
- Commit to your goal. Commitment is about more than just saying you’re committed, it also involves actions that support it.
- Schedule a time to do the tasks that you are avoiding. And then sit down and do it!
- Know what done looks like for the task. For me initially it was 2-hours. This week it was a specific number of people.
- Be aware of excuses that masquerade as reasons.
- Be aware of distractions. You might suddenly decide you need to check email, Facebook, LinkedIn or whatever. It’s really just a distraction.
- Forgive yourself if don’t complete the task and re-evaluate. Are you really committed to this? What stood in your way? How can you set yourself up for success? And don’t spend time beating yourself up for not completing it. Beating yourself up about it doesn’t’ move you forward, it just takes up time.
- Work with a coach. I didn’t do that in this case, but I have in the past. A coach is a great resource for this kind of thing!
Also, know that you’re not the only one. Sometimes a client will preface something with “this will sound silly, but…” and it’s never silly. Often, it’s something that other people struggle with too, but don’t talk about.