Years ago, as part of my recovery from an eating disorder, I read the book by Thom Rutledge, Embracing Fear: How to Turn What Scares Us into Our Greatest Gift. I learned a lot about my fears and how it’s not the fear that’s the problem, but how we respond to it that is the issue.
Ever heard of paralyzing fear? Well, essentially that is what fear can do, if we let it. Stop us from doing what needs to be done. But what happens if we are afraid of something, do we do it any way?
In recovery, I learned that most of the things I was afraid of – if I ate, if I gained weight, etc. – those things I dreaded, never actually happened. On the rare occasion, when I was afraid not of what I thought would happen, but what I knew would happen, when those things actually happened, guess what? I survived. I got through it.
For the most part, I continued the pattern of embracing and facing fears, and getting through those situations, and still maintain that I fear less than I used to about most things.
But every now and then, especially in my communications job, where my fear of not pleasing people, my fear of being thought of as unintelligent or ill-equipped for my duties, this fear sometimes paralyzes me. I freeze. I don’t want to make a decision or, if I do manage to convince myself of a decision, I don’t want to stick to it, I am easily dissuaded or convinced – either by myself or those I deem ‘smarter’ than me – to change my mind.
I am discovering, however, that it is this very lack of confidence in my own abilities that may put me at jeopardy of being given the authority to be the ministry leader I need to be.
Recently, I have come to the realization that my ability to face my fears, even if what I afraid of actually happens- I am ‘wrong’ or people don’t agree with me or, and this is a toughy- I let my team down, my ability to make mistakes, and survive, will be a ‘tool’ that I can use to make me a better leader and a better team member.
Being afraid to be wrong can keep us from making some right decisions. Sometimes because what we are afraid will be wrong, is actually right and other times, a decision will teach us what the better decision will be the next time. I want to continue to become better at doing my job, but I can’t get better by not doing it! Being willing to walk into the unknown, try new things, even if when I am unsure of the outcome, strengthens me for further work.
So what happens when I face my fears my communications job? I learn to communicate through all types of circumstances. I become better able to state my opinion and back it up with relevant data. I learn to be humble and gracious, learning to take advice from people who know more than me.
What about you? How have you addressed uncertainty or fear in your ministry role? What are some tips you can share with people who are new to communications?