Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Want to Be

There's that gap between where you are and where you want to be. It’s that risk you haven't taken. We all have to take risks to get to the next level, but then fear and self-limiting beliefs act like a rubber band pulling you back. You try to reach that next level but the elasticity of that rubber band pulls you right back to your comfort zone. Inside the comfort zone there is no room for courage, boldness or enthusiasm.

Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It keeps you from making intelligent risks that help you achieve your desires and instead - it follows a patterned cycle to fulfill that which you feared.

Let me show you what I mean... let's walk through the fear cycle together.

Phase one is an imagined consequence. You imagine the situation turning positively catastrophic. Before my first keynote, I saw myself tripping up the steps to the stage, sprawled out spread eagle, in a skirt no less!

You turn the situation into an absolute calamity where the worst possible consequences are imagined. Since the negative thoughts are flowing you lose your perspective. The more ambiguous or uncertain you are in that setting the more room there is for negative thinking.

Remember when you were a kid lying in your bed at night and the things in the shadows weren't clear and everything became scary. Even to this day my sister won't sleep with either her hands or her feet hanging over the edge of the bed because of the fear of the monster under the bed. She's over 50 years old and she still can't have her feet or hands over the bed. It’s just one of those things. In an uncertain situation, that same kind of imagined monster happens.

Phase two kicks in and distorts your perspective. You’ve heard of people who wear rose-colored glasses so that everything looks beautiful through those lenses. Fear is like that only with the opposite effect. Instead of rose-colored glasses you look through gray or dark lenses that distort what you see and make everything worse than it is.

Recently I was hired by a client to write a webinar. The topic was a real stretch for me, and I put extra hours into research and content writing. When the first draft of the script came back to me with suggested edits I immediately thought, “Oh my, you can’t make this happen. You don't measure up. You’ve disappointed them. You can’t write this webinar! What were you thinking?”

The script weighed 200 lbs. in my hands. I dropped it on my kitchen counter and just walked away. Then after about 30 minutes I came back and read through their notes once again and realized the changes they were asking for were minimal. Just a little more thought, a little more effort to get it to the level it needed to be.

Phase three -  the body signals start coming -- physical responses to fear such as, shortness of breath, dry mouth, shaking hands, and butterflies.
When you are looking through the gray and dingy glasses of fear, it distorts reality, and you see and hear the very things that you are trying to avoid.

When I read the revision notes the first time, I failed to see the dozen comments that said “Oh this is great.” “Love this analogy.” “This is wonderful, great way to expand that.” I didn't see those. I only saw comments like “Give me an example here.” Or, “Let's expand this a little more.” These are not negative comments, but fear and gray-colored glasses distorted them. 

When we are in this fear state, procrastination is a common response. Somewhere in your head is the hope that if you put off what seems too hard or too scary it will go away or get easier. Then we use excuses like this: “I do my best work under pressure. When the deadline is there that is when the creativity flows, that's when I do my best work.”

And you and I know that is just nonsense. What we mean is that we finally have to do the work. It is finally the absolute deadline and there is no choice.

When you are in that do-or-die mode it is not the place for high performance. You can't concentrate, you don't think straight, you lose all hope of creativity. Fear will compromise your performance, and it is at that point that you enter the final phase of fear which is concrete confirmation of what you were afraid of.

And there you have it, the fear of failing caused old habits like procrastination to kick in. Your behaviors set you up to fail. You did it—you fulfilled the prophecy.

We ALL have fears... in my next post, we'll explore options to dispel fear and limiting beliefs, and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

In the meantime, here are a few more articles on thinking differently to achieve uncommon results:
 About the Author: Monica Cornetti
Founder and CEO, Sententia

A gamification speaker and designer, Monica Cornetti is rated as a #1 Gamification Guru in the World by UK-Based Leaderboarded. She is the author of the book Totally Awesome Training Activity Guide: Put Gamification to Work for You, writes The Gamification Report blog, and hosts the weekly Gamification Talk Radio program.  

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