Seeing Opportunities in the Face of Fear

Businessman working alone in boardroom, crying, portraitI want to take a moment to step aside from some of my previous discussions about the technology behind what is guiding us into a new era of communications and my ruminations on why I can’t stand the term “blogger relations” to discuss something far more personal to me: fear. Specifically, how my fears shape and alter my personal and professional goals and convictions.

I might as well get this out of the way now: Not performing up to the abilities I know I have—both personally and professionally—is a fear I have each and every day. And I think I’m pretty bad at hiding it. See, I’m not the confident type. I’m not Stuart Foster, who is a brilliant marketing mind. You have one conversation with Stuart and you instantly know the guy is confident, a bit brash and definitely knows what he is doing. He’s going places, and he’s not afraid to let you know that.

I’m not that guy. And that’s OK. Yes, I said it. I’m OK with not being the supremely confident guy. Look, we all have fears in our lives. Come on, admit it, you do, too. But what I think makes us strong people, and what helps us to overcome and tap into those fears to actually make something positive out of them is our ability to see that fear can actually be good for us. It can be liberating. And screw those who think that fear is a four-letter word. I never listened to the so-called “experts” anyway.

Think about fear in one of the two categories:

  • Fear that paralyzes us because we either refuse to acknowledge or deal with it, or we don’t seek out the proper help and resources to manage it
  • Fear that we embrace, for we know it’s part of who we are, it’s deep within our psyche, and to try to forget that exists will only serve to harm us, either psychologically or physically.

What this all comes down to and how it relates to PR? Good question. The thing is, I may appear to have it all together and to usually have a few answers to a good problem, but I live every day in fear that I won’t live up to my own lofty standards, whether that be in best serving my clients, my employer, my girlfriend or anyone else that I am responsible to. I’m in a constant mental tussle with myself to overcome those fears and channel that energy to kick ass at whatever I’m doing. Because like my very savvy friend Stuart Foster, I, too, want to be the best at what I do; I just have to go about doing that in a far different way than he, and many of you, do. And I’m OK with that. Really, I am.

In the coming days, I will be putting myself out there like never before in my life. And it’s fearful like nothing that I could have imagined. But as I’m beginning to understand about almost every fear that I encounter—and eventually, overcome—in my life, the rewards, the mental high and the sense of holy-crap-this-is-awesome! that comes with great moments of fear, adrenaline and channeled nervouesness like the one I’m about to face head on is worth every damn penny of the buildup.

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So get your fear on, my friends. Let’s all embrace a bit of adrenaline today.

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  • Named your fear must be before banish it you can.

  • keithtrivitt

    Wow. Amy, that is fantastic! I had to re-read it about 3 times before I fully understood what it meant, but that is spot on. Thank you so much for contributing that.

  • Don't thank me. Thank Yoda.

  • valeriesimon

    Great post Keith. Fear can be good. It means that you are stretching beyond your comfort zone, taking some risks, creating new opportunities. Fear is also a sign that these are calculated risks and that you understand the magnitude of the challenge. It is easy to spend your days avoiding fear, taking the easy way, being complacent.

    I have many friends in PR who are currently at such a crossroads. Whether they are seeking change, or change has been thrust upon them, I know several who currently face professional uncertainty… they also face tremendous opportunity. Kudos to you for seeking to embrace the challenge at hand (whatever that may be, and yes, I am curious!!). And let your fear be tempered by the knowledge that you have a strong network of friends and supporters who are rooting for you.

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  • Cassie Cramer

    Thanks for the great post, Keith. I've always tried to recognize fear and embrace it. I think too many people run from their fears rather than recognizing what they are truly afraid of and working with it.

    This really hit home for me because I will be starting a new job in a week. There is the fear of “the devil you know vs. the devil you don't.” Can I really do the job? Will I like the job? And so many other questions. Thank you for this timely post and good luck!

  • keithtrivitt

    Valerie – Thanks so much for chiming in and providing some great professional perspective on this. Certainly, in the current economic and workplace climate we are all in, there are many people who are facing similar fears and concerns as I expressed above, both personally and professionally. Like you, I hope they find a way to channel that fear internally into some positive movement and create something better out of moments when they might have thought only something negative could come of it.

    I've always been an eternal optimist, so I love to see when either myself, or others, succeed in the face of great fears or difficulties. That – to me – is what makes life very interesting.

  • keithtrivitt

    Cassie – Great comment! So good to hear from someone who is proactively facing their fears and working to overcome them. Best of luck with starting your new job, and keep attacking those fearful/anxious moments, as I'm sure some big things will come when you face them head on, see what you are really up against and put your entire self into them. Let us know how it goes!

  • Gotta love that I just pick this up now on Sunday. Thanks for the shout out Keith. Although I'm far from brilliant, I'll agree on the brash/passionate side :).

  • Gotta love that I just pick this up now on Sunday. Thanks for the shout out Keith. Although I'm far from brilliant, I'll agree on the brash/passionate side :).