3 clues there are chickens in your family tree

Posted on by Kathleen

 

You can choose not to live in fear.In U.S. vernacular, “chicken” is synonymous with “coward.” While it’s most often used by and applied to children, even we grown-ups can get scared. The difference is that adults have (one hopes) more effective ways of dealing with the scary stuff.

Have you gotten into the habit of avoiding what you fear? Sometimes that makes excellent sense; it’s a very good idea to steer clear of a downed power line, for example. On the other hand, sometimes avoiding what you fear means you’re also avoiding opportunities to create the life you want. This type of avoidance qualifies as a Bad Idea.

Here are some clues that you may be hurting your results by chickening out of doing the tough, scary stuff:

Do any of these make you suspect there’s at least a little clucker hiding inside you? That’s great news! Since there’s no way to change a counterproductive habit until you become aware of it, you’ve just taken the absolutely essential first step toward improving your productivity, results, and mental health.

 

Courage is a habit you can develop.

 

So what are some ways you can send your inner chicken to the coop so she doesn’t hinder you any more? Try the following:

 

Stop “should”ing on yourself.

You, like a lot of entrepreneurs, may find yourself buried in sticky notes, brochures, and open web pages because those all serve as reminders of activities you “should” get around to. The big question is this: How’s that working for you?

More often than not, the only thing these reminders really accomplish is to suck your energy dry and add to your stress.

Rather than react from a knee-jerk position of “I should”, choose instead to respond consciously and strategically. Do you think you “should” try that marketing tactic because “everyone” is using it? Then ask yourself if it makes sense for your business and your target market. If not, you get to take that off your Should Do list.

 

Ditch the “yabbuts”.

One of the biggest destroyers of results is “yeah, but…”. This phrase very rarely moves you forward, but very often holds you back. One of the most common counterproductive uses of this phrase is rationalizing your failure to pursue an opportunity that has great potential (i.e., scares the poop out of you).

Yabbuts come in an essentially endless variety: Yeah, I could apply to speak at that conference, but they’re never going to select a newbie like me.  Yeah, it would be great to be a published author, but what do I know about publishing? Yeah, I could bid on that project, but they probably want to go with a big-name firm.  Yeah, [insert your personal favorite yabbut here.]

My personal (often icky) experience with yabbuts is that they almost NEVER address true obstacles, but instead are a direct reflection of my fears. A case in point is that first example, which I recently had to beat into submission myself. “Yeah, I’d love to present at the upcoming Infinite Possibilities conference, and my proposed content ties in beautifully with the material to be taught there, but I just got certified as an Infinite Possibilities trainer, so why would they select a total rookie to present at the next conference?”  I ended up addressing my fear with a combination of kindness (“Thank you for wanting to save me from possible disappointment”) and somewhat irritable matter-of-factness (“Shut the hell up!”).  I’m looking forward to hearing the good news from the selection committee soon.

Once again, awareness is key. Listen for mental yabbuts and instantly challenge yourself on them. I get to remind myself of Susan Jeffers’ powerful observation: “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”

 

Remind yourself that you can handle pretty much anything that comes at you.

How do I know that’s true? Because you’re still alive and kicking and able to read this post, aren’t you? In other words, nothing to date has permanently shut you down. That means that you have a life-long habit of handling whatever comes at you. This, in turn, means that, no matter how scary something may appear, you’re going to be able to deal with it.

 

Be compassionate and kind enough to give yourself permission to be a work in progress.

High achievers often scare themselves into inaction by thinking they have to get it right (whatever “it” is) the very first time they try it.

Huh?!?

If you take just a moment, you’ll realize how crazy-making this belief is. If you quit everything you didn’t get right the first time, you never would have learned to keyboard, drive a stick shift, or even walk.

Be nice to yourself whenever you’re in novice mode. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Not only will you learn and advance more by doing something than by doing nothing; you’ll also be gathering incredibly good stories to tell once you’ve achieve proficiency in that activity and can speak as an expert.

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What strategies have you used to muster your courage and silence your inner chicken? How do you move forward in spite of fear?

Or is that something you’re still trying to figure out? Are you often immobilized by the fear of doing the “wrong” thing? Do you struggle to identify the best use of your finite time and energy? Maybe I can help.

My most successful clients are the ones who are brave enough to admit that they’re somewhat freaking out and are ready for a helping hand. We work together to develop a clear focus on what really needs doing and what needs to be ignored right now. Then we develop a step-by-baby-step action plan to move the client forward, and I hold them accountable for staying in purposeful motion.

Does that sound like a wonderful change of pace from your current situation? Then perhaps it’s time to get acquainted over the phone. In just 30 or 40 minutes of asking each other questions, we’ll both get a sense of whether or not we’d make a terrific team.

If you’re feeling brave enough to explore that possibility, take the baby step of setting up our get-acquainted call: Just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “No more chickens!” in the subject line. We’ll set up a call and figure out what’s in both our best interests.

Need a little further incentive to reach out? Then I double-dog dare you to connect. ☺

(By the way, thanks to Elias Gayles for posting his image of the Buff Orpington hen in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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8 Responses to 3 clues there are chickens in your family tree

  1. I love this post, Kathleen! Yes, courage takes practice, as does self-compassion, and yet they are both essential to our stretching past our comfort zones and reaching our full potential. Doing the things that frighten us end up being the most empowering and reinforce our trust in ourselves and our abilities! I will take your challenge and commit to doing the things that scare me. Thank you!

    • Kathleen Kathleen says:

      Kelley, one of my LinkedIn contacts made the following suggestion for deciding what activities to tackle first: Decide which are important (as opposed to urgent), identify the one you least want to do, and do that first! Now, that’s a guy who’s serious about getting past his own comfort zone.

  2. Frances says:

    I really like that you remind us to (1) remember that I have a lifetime habit of handling pretty much anything that’s come my way and (2) to be compassionate and kind to myself along the way. Thanks for the wisdom, Kathleen.

    • Kathleen Kathleen says:

      It’s my pleasure, Frances. I have a great collection of people in my life who will call me on my own counter-productive speech and thoughts, so it really feels satisfying to be able to return the favor for someone else.

  3. This is such a quietly profound sentiment, Kathleen: “Be nice to yourself whenever you’re in novice mode.” As someone who suffers from perfection-procrastinitis, I love your advice to be kind to yourself when doing something new. Here’s to sending our inner chickens to the coop!

    • Kathleen Kathleen says:

      I’m trying to appreciate the fact that I can speak with such authority on this topic, Lori, but in reality I’m kind of aggravated that I still huff and puff when it comes to giving myself permission to be a little klutzy when learning and applying something new. Ah, well…

  4. Kelly says:

    Great reminders, Kathleen! I love how you put your own unique spin on a topic covered by hundreds… I love your “yeah, buts”!

    • Kathleen Kathleen says:

      Kelly, thanks for affirming that everyone has her own view to contribute, and that all views provide value to the right person. Happy dance! 🙂

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