Building a Bridge Over Fear

Hey, hey there, bold leaders. Welcome to another episode of The Bold Leadership Revolution Podcast, and I am really interested. That's a good word. I'm interested in having this conversation with you today, because today we are talking all about fear. You know, I say this often, that we're here to show you how to optimize your performance as a leader, without all the buttoned-up stuffiness of corporate leadership, which is where you stuff down your fear, and the drivel of the personal development industry, where you become fearless, because that doesn't really help anyone, and I don't believe that it exists.

So, we promise that in a world that swings wildly between serious business and woo-woo bullshit, we will be planted firmly in the middle. We will give you the practical side of business strategy, the necessary skills to build your mental strength, and the woo-ish principles to effectively and efficiently manage your most precious resource: your energy. And today, we're talking about something that has a pretty significant impact in the life of leaders, and that is fear.

Now, I believe that leaders have this ability to feel their fear the most, because we're the ones leaning in to our growth edge. We're the ones who are actually going digging for fear. We are mining for opportunities to challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone, and when we do that, we come face to face with our fear and our resistance, and all the crap that stands in our way from moving forward. If I was going to be sitting on the couch with no real goals, and not a care in the world whether or not I lived and reached my potential, life would be easy, I wouldn't be outside my comfort zone, I probably wouldn't be fearing as much as I do as someone who is really rubbing up against the edge.

So, I want to have this conversation around fear, and I want to do it justice, because I think there's a lot of damaging advice out there that comes with talking about fear, including being fearless, including "Fuck your fears," and all that kind of language around it. I don't think it's helpful. I mean, sometimes you have to tell your ego to shut up, and you got to move on, but for the most part, I don't think it's helpful. Because fear is normal, we need to normalize this stuff. It happens to all of us, it happens every day, especially when you are challenging yourself to grow and to become.

And so, I'm going to share with you some of my thoughts on fear, and really what happened the last time I experienced it, which was just in March, which was when we were launching, we were doing a mini-launch for The BRAVE Society. And a funny thing happened when we went to execute on our March initiative of a mini-launch for The BRAVE Society: I froze in fear. I completely shut down, ungrounded, and spinning. I felt queasy, and this led to a hard retreat, otherwise known as isolation. Something tells me that you are nodding your head. You know what I went through, you're understanding this very clearly.

Building a Bridge Over Fear

I spent the better part of two decades mastering my inner psychology, so I knew what was happening. I could see very clearly that I was having a response to fear. It was as if I were outside my body looking down on the chaos in my mind. So, today's episode, I want to talk about how I moved through this experience, and I want to use language that honors the realness of how this transpires within each of us. So, like I said, we're going to leave terms of aggression out of this, because the way we deal with our fear doesn't come from "Fuck fear and crush it," or anything like that.

Moving through fear and resistance comes from a place of acceptance, love, and building bridges. I know, this is not so marketing-worthy, but rarely the truth is. And I want to talk about it in terms of building bridges because I was complaining about something the other day in my Slack channel to my right hand, Lane, and she fires back, she's very funny, she fires back, "Tara, build a bridge and get over it." Right? She was being funny and facetious, but I'm like, "Oh no, this really... We really do need to be building bridges." So it kind of unlocked something for me.

Managing my Fear Pocket

So, what I've learned about this last fear pocket was that if I look at my data, it takes me about a week to navigate the bridge-building process. Like, actual bridge-building. The more bridges you build, the more efficient you become.

So, day one, feeling the fear set in, I get antsy. I don't like this feeling, I pretend like I don't know what's happening, my body feels incredibly anxious, even though maybe my mind doesn't. I feel hemmed in, caged, I'm not free to roam. And really, what has to happen now is I need to move my body. I need to get my heart rate up, I need to get my mind to kind of turn off, and the best way that I can do this, and I feel a lot of people can do this, is to move your body. You don't have to move it in a crazy way, you can go for a walk, or dance around, or whatever it is that you want to do, but I've... So, I tend to freeze, and I tend to forget that I need to move my body, so on day one, I need to make sure that when I feel this coming on, I move my body. And it's uncomfortable, and I feel like crap that day, and I'm all off my game, and all the things, right? But I move my body anyway.

And then day two, I'm able to create the big hairy list of fears. That's when I've moved some of these feelings through my body, I'm probably still moving at this point, just making sure to get some activity in, and I can sit down, and I can write out my fears.

Day three, I'm going to look at this list of fears again, I'm going to stare it in the face, I'm going to read them out loud to myself, I'm going to add to the list, I'm going to refine the list, I'm going to have a good laugh, because most of them are ridiculous. And then I'm going to start deleting the ones that are absolutely absurd, the ones like, "My life's going to come crashing down around me," or what have you, whatever the crazy fear is. And I'm going to start crossing them off my list, and I'm usually left with 10% to 20% of the fears still on the list that I have to go through, and I have to think about, and I have to dig deeper, and I have to reframe them. And so, I go through and I reframe them, and now I'm starting to feel a little better. I'm starting to feel a little more levity, my energy is starting to shift.

And so on day four is when I share them with my team, so I say... They usually know what's going on, but I'm like, "Okay, I need to share the remainder of what's holding me back, what's going to have me stuck, so you all know where you need to push me, where you need to remind me, where you need to reframe for me when I get stuck."

And then on the fifth day, I need to remove my focus, and I need to go engage in other activities. We can call this productive procrastination, if you will. And I just need to get my mind off of it.

And around day six, day seven, because now usually, you know, we've started an initiative on a Monday, and now it's Saturday and Sunday, and now I need self-care. I need to sleep, because processing through a hairy list of fears takes a lot of mental energy. I want to maybe get a massage and calm my central nervous system, and I want to prepare myself for the momentum that's coming with the big, bold action. Right?

And then on day eight, I pierce the bubble. That's when, in this case, I go on to Instagram Stories, and I start talking about what we're up to, I start talking about that we're having this mini-launch, I start inviting people and encouraging people to join The BRAVE Society. I get on message. I pierce the bubble, and I get on message. It usually is very casual, this conversation that I'm starting to have. This is where I'm really re-enrolling myself in my vision, in my mission, in who I'm here for, in what I'm taking a stand for. So this is what I mean when I say I get on message.

And then, after that, it's all momentum. So, trying to plow and push through this moment is totally unhelpful. Pushing through these moments is often what leaves us feeling like we're grinding, dragging one foot in front of the other as we slog our way to the finish line, and honestly, it sucks, and it's hard, and it's suffering, and who the hell wants that? You know, this is when we start talking about, how can we be operating from a place of greater joy, or ease, or pleasure, or whatever? This is about getting into your process and making it enjoyable, because what if we can do hard things with ease? I mean, I know that to be true, I just showed you how to do it. So slow down, and when you think you have slowed down enough, slow down some more.

All your deadlines are most likely more flexible than you think. When I realized I needed a week to get myself, and more importantly my energy clean and clear, I asked my team if we can add a few days to our timeline. I mean, I'm the boss, I'm in charge, right? It's completely doable. And when we debriefed, we noted that I need a seven-day mental prep window where my schedule is clear for me to move, journal, and productively procrastinate, take care of myself, do some self-care. So now we know that our launches have a seven-day mental prep window for me, and everybody knows what my process looks like, and we're all on the same page.

Slowing down to speed up is a fact. When I started this launch and I was stuck, I was in complete panic as to how we would reach our goal of 10 new women in The BRAVE Society. This wasn't a function of truth; I was discounting the effort I put in to meet new people, the time I've taken to personally connect with others, the intention I put into cultivating this program. I completely discounted my value and purpose and beliefs. But I slowed down, I built the bridge, I focused on my process, I trusted my process, which allowed me to speed up, and within two weeks enroll nine women in The BRAVE Society. But what I received was so much more than that. The success of this mini-launch was not in the number of women, but in the caliber of women who joined us. The success was in the community that was being formed and solidified. The success was in the data we collected, and how our organization executes under these types of initiatives.

So here is your action for this episode:

Gather some data. Think about the last time you were struck down with fear. Maybe you are right now. How do you move through it? Write down your steps and process. We all have them. Even if it means that you run and hide and avoid it, that's your process. Once we know what we're starting from, we can decide where we want to go instead. It makes it that much easier to bridge that gap, to accelerate the results, and to make the leap. I would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, so head on over to Instagram, I'm @thetaranewman, and share with me your thoughts.

I often share lessons learned on this podcast. It's one of my favorite things to be able to do. And I'm able to do this because of a strong commitment I have to radical self-reflection. This commitment means that, every week, I'm looking at what's happening in my business and in my life: the good, the bad, and, yes, occasionally the ugly.

Doing this work allows me to look at my months and even my years with real data, even for the less tangible parts of my business and life. I call these weekly meetings CEO Debriefs, and I do them twice per month inside The BRAVE Society. We do them together. I have pulled together some of the highlights from CEO Debriefs that I've done inside of BRAVE, and I'm sharing the best of the best with you.

You might have heard a couple of these on the podcast, but I want you to take it a step further and feel what it's like to do these with us inside of The BRAVE Society. So head on over to my show notes and sign up now to receive 10 CEO Debrief questions you will want to ask yourself, plus listen in on some of the most popular shares that I've made. Listening to someone else's debrief is a great way to find the language for what you're experiencing, get a concrete example of radical self-reflection, and learn how to grow your business because it's oftentimes not what we think.

If you found this podcast valuable, help us develop more Bold Leaders in the world by sharing this episode with your friends, colleagues, and other Bold Leaders. Also, if you haven't done so already, please leave a review. I consider reviews like podcast currency, and it's the one thing you can do to help us out here at The Bold Leadership Revolution HQ. We would be so grateful for it. Special thanks goes to Stacey Harris from Uncommonly More, who is the producer and editor of this podcast. Go check them out for all your digital marketing and content creation needs.

Be sure to tune into the next episode to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.

Important links to share:

Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.

The B.R.A.V.E Society

Follow Tara over on Instagram

Help more Bold Leaders find this podcast by leaving a review on iTunes

Tara Newman