Last week we discussed when you have too much to do, this week we will talk about when you just have one thing that overwhelms you. Usually it is a large task which counts for a lot and thus has a lot of risk attached to it. The risk of failure, the risk of rejection, the risk of embarrassment. You have a daunting presentation to prepare, a dissertation to write or a speech to give. They have to go well, better than well, it has to be the best you’ve ever done. This is why people often get stage fright because they want to give an amazing presentation and all that expectation doesn’t help them perform. That happens with anything, if you put lots of expectation on a night and expect it to the best night, spend lots of time getting ready, more often than not, it isn’t as good as you expected.
In addition, because they are particularly important either because of their worth and value or because they are important to your values, there is a higher fear of failure. Fail a presentation in front of an important client and you could lose thousands, even millions of pounds for your company. Fail your dissertation, fail your degree. But surely if you have this worry in the back of your head (in NLP terms, in your unconscious mind), you would work on it. However, your unconscious mind is not logical, it is emotional. Your unconscious mind does not work in terms of logic. Unconsciously, you think that as long as the piece of work is left incomplete, you hold onto that potential of exceeding expectations, however as soon as it is complete, the potential of failure is a valid option.
For me, this was writing a book. At age 13, I wrote a book about my experiences, I found it fairly easy and the only reason I did was because I never wrote it with the intention to publish it but instead just to vent all my emotions… It was essentially a diary – low risk, as no one would see it. After completing it however, I showed it to a few people and it was suggested that I publish it. Despite the fact that my doctor used this book with his students, I found that thought terrifying – I was too young, my writing was bad and everyone would know everything that I deemed too personal!
Over the last 3 years, I have tried to edit it and re-write it, at times I have just scrapped it and tried to start again but every time I got to around 1000 words, I would delete it all, lock it away for a week and then bring it out when I could muster up the courage to start again. Even after these 3 years, I have a total of 6,000 words. Hence why I started this blog, it broke this enormous task into small snippets, I could tackle one subject about my experiences and not write a huge document on my life. This tackled the first problem, we discussed last week – having too much to do.
But there was another problem. At first, when I was writing this blog, there was no expectation. By the third and fourth one, people had told me that they liked my writing and couldn’t wait to read more… The pressure was building and it made me want to write less and less because I was worried the next post would not live up to the standard of my previous ones. But here you are reading a blog post, so I must have found a solution.
What’s the solution? Don’t aim to write the best piece of work you have ever written, aim to write an average piece of work. Don’t aim to give the best presentation you have ever give, aim to give an average presentation. After all, this is how I wrote this blog post. I set out, to just write an average blog post, in fact it could be a slight disappointment. There was always going to be a dud post, one which let the team down or one which a complete an utter mess but as long as I got it right 70% of the time, I would deem that a success.
We are left with one last issue, caring what other people think, well this issue disappeared for me with NLP! It was the realisation that the people will always have their thoughts, but just because they think something, doesn’t make it true. Hell, even if you think something, doesn’t make it true! You can’t control your thoughts and every time you do they often get more louder and you think about them more, but you do have a choice as to which thoughts you choose to believe!