The Great Debilitators: Doubt and Fear

I was fortunate enough to attend a Women's Media Group Brown Bag a while ago, where I heard Terri Trespicio speak. Terri is a media coach as well as a content and brand strategist, and she gave us tips on what to do and not do when you're being interviewed by the media.

It was a very informative hour and a half, but riding home on the subway, the thing that stuck out was her telling us that it's okay to be nervous and it's okay not to know everything. She of course explained how to prepare for the first and redirect the second, but when I was revisiting these tips, it reminded me of something else.

Have you ever had doubt or fear rear their ugly heads and make it nearly impossible to take the next step? Have you seen others make faulty or short-sighted decisions out of what couldn't be anything but fear or insecurity?

I know I've experienced both, and it's amazing that one can fear (and doubt) both good things and bad ones. Sometimes just the thought of a potential promotion or big move can be so scary, that you talk yourself out of applying. Sometimes you make a decision since it's safer and will cover your ass, rather than it's what's best for your or your team.

All of the above is very natural and human. It's what you do in those moments—the choice you make—that makes the difference.

I remember many years ago, when I was still in college and moaning to a close friend about my relationship woes of the moment, she said something so profound that it has stuck with me since. (Thank you, Michal.) What she said was that a true test of anything—whether it was character, love, values—was whether you rose above the circumstances or whether you used them as an excuse. I have often reminded myself of this (and sometimes reminded others).

So next time you find yourself overwhelmed by an emotion, if it's interfering with a business decision (or life), take a deep breath and try to think through that fear, doubt, or whatever other feeling is standing in your way. Emotions are not inherently bad: they're like that muscle pain that is your body's way of telling you to slow down. They're a message that needs to be deciphered, not blindly followed.

And I'm far from perfect and given that I'm at a crossroad now, I will be reminding myself of both what Michal said back then, and what Terri said yesterday.

How do you handle doubt and fear?