Simple steps to face fear in the moment

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I know you want to be more courageous as a people-manager. Every leader does! But, how do you face fear ‘in the moment?’.

Think about that presentation you don’t want to make, the difficult conversation coming up, the company town hall you need to address. 

Face fear

You know, the ones that are the first thoughts when you wake up in the morning.

… and so I thought I’d share with you one of the tips that I shared in my session with the European ‘Women of Cisco’ community last week.

Women of Cisco

Being more courageous

Firstly, though, what is courage? It’s being afraid, and going through with what you need to do anyway.

When we experience fear, our ‘reptilian brain’ kicks in, we get a rush of adrenaline and cortisone, our heart rate and breathing increases. Rational thought, even speech becomes tough. Perhaps there’s a physical reaction (I remember getting a shaky leg when I had to do a reading at a very well-attended funeral once!).

This is all to do with our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. 

It’s science. But I won’t bore you with that bit. 

All we really need to know is – how do you get your parasympathetic nervous system back in control?

How to face fear in the moment

Take a pause.

Even if you’re in the middle of a presentation, a short pause between sentences will come across a lot more professional and competent than a breathless, meandering monologue.

Speaking with confidence

While you’re pausing, use one, two or all three of these:

  • Firstly, distract yourself from the task in hand. Play some music (even if it’s in your head). Think about what you had for dinner last night. Anything except the task in hand. Do something physical like clicking your fingers together. Try not to think of a pink elephant. 
  • Secondly, find the funny in the situation, and laugh to yourself about it (don’t start cackling out loud though, people might start to talk!)
  • Lastly, but most importantly, do some ‘box breathing’ – breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of five, breath out (five) and hold (you guessed it, five). Rinse and repeat. Feel yourself calming down as you do this.

Think of these as your ‘fear busting’ tool kit. 

Face fear toolkit

Most of all, be yourself. My biggest message with my clients is just this, for everything to do with leadership. People respond to authenticity, and can spot ‘faking it’ a mile off. 

The next time you’re in a situation and fear kicks in, try these tips out and then contact me and let me know what happens.

I’m in your corner!



p.s. Another great tool is daily reflection – focussing on your strengths and what has worked well in the past. There’s a free template for your daily journal here

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