Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself?

A few years ago, my first ever paid public speaking gig was for the local government – and I was petrified going onto the stage. It felt awful, right up to the moment I went on.

A few weeks ago, I ran my first ever webinar, and I felt pretty much the same.

Yesterday I ran the first CRD training module, and yep: at little less intensely, but still the same.

And last night, I auditioned to sing in a band, when I’ve not been in a band or sang anything into a mic except for the odd song at open mic nights, for 25 years.

And yep: shivers, shakes and probably a bunch of nervous twitches.

Another example?

When a wedding planner friend asked me to officiate (i.e. marry two people together) a few years ago, because the couple wanted a humanist celebrant and not a religious figure.

In each of those cases, and there’s a lot more of them in my life, I feel nervous, stressed, insecure, doubtful, and generally as if I’m about to drive off a cliff whilst jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

Putting on an international group art exhibition whilst showing my artwork for the first time ever? Yep, did that. Nervous as hell.

In all such cases, I always find myself asking:

Why, oh why… do I keep doing this to myself?

Why do I keep putting myself into situations like these?

Yesterday I figured it out:

Because I thrive when I’m forced to bring out the best in me.

And the more challenging the situation, the more pressure, the more I can lean into whatever abilities and performance I can muster up.

It’s not that I’m an adrenaline junkie, but I sure like my shot of it every now and again.

Now you might be thinking that this is yet another ‘get out of your comfort zone’ articles, but nope: it goes deeper than that.

Putting yourself into scary situations, the kind where there’s something at stake and you risk some kind of failure, is the best way to tap into your unused potential.

And I’m a potentialite: I KNOW that I, and you, and everyone on earth, can do more than we think we can.

We have far more potential as individuals and as a species, than society and common narrative would have us believe.

And to me, a life lived in the confines of our known abilities is a life not lived.

It’s when you dare to venture into your unknown and/or untapped potential that you get to shine, thrive, and do things that surprise or even amaze you.

If you’re one of my entrepreneurial readers, you already know this to some degree.

As a business owner, you can never rest on your laurels, your work is never done, and you’re never not at risk. At any time, something can happen that threatens your sales or cashflow.

So what if you were to lean into that?

What if you would make it a point to regularly seek out challenges that scare you, that *could* lead to some sort of failure, but that could equally likely bring out something amazing in you? (pro tip: do make sure you bring a parachute – it’s scary enough when you’ve got one, or: stupidity and daring are two different things).

What would happen to your potential, if you’d put yourself into ‘do or die’ situations?

Yes it’s scary. Yes it’s threatening and yes there’s risk.

But never doubt the power of your lizard brain to protect you and drive you to excellence.

So, have you scared yourself lately?

If not, what scary thing is there for you to try?



P.s. The audition went well. Woot, I’m now in a band!

Also published on Medium.

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