Choose To Be "Nervous"

March 1, 2017

 

 

When was the last time you felt confident? No, really, what activity were you engaged and you said to yourself, "I can do this!" Maybe it was taking a game-winning shot in a recreational basketball game? Maybe it was making a strike in a church bowling league? Maybe it happened as you pushed yourself in a new workout routine or finishing a neighborhood 5K race? 

 

Maybe this confidence is common in your professional endeavors. It's possible to have a career that is driven by results, and as a result (pun intended), confidence is essential. For you to wake up void of confidence could mean the loss of a major client, the loss of a job, the inability to close on a major business transaction, or the loss of a game or championship. 

 

It's clearly understood that some people live in a world where confidence is nonnegotiable, whereas others live in a world where confidence is negotiable. Some have chosen an occupation where their confidence correlates to their income. Others have chosen an occupation where their confidence has no correlation to their income. Who do you think makes the most money, the person whose career necessitates confidence or the one whose career doesn't require confidence? The answer is obvious. 

 

Most adults were sincerely raised by loving parents who sought to protect them from failure and rejection. Although this is an admirable goal, it isn't the best long-term strategy. The career implications of children raised as such is that they generally become adults who disproportionately choose careers that don't expose them to the possibility of rejection or the possibility of failure. They choose safe careers where growing in confidence isn't a daily, weekly or monthly necessity, which has a direct impact upon their income, lifestyle and options.  

 

With this in mind, when was the last time you felt nervous? Do you remember being nervous asking the attractive girl across the room for her number or to consent to a date?  Maybe you were on the other side of the transaction. Do you remember the nervousness as he walked across the room towards you? Do you remember the nervousness of trying out for a school team or extracurricular activity? What about being nervous taking on a new project or job with your company? 

 

Maybe this nervousness is common in your professional endeavors. It's possible to have a career where being exposed to nervousness is commonplace. People in such occupations tend to learn more about themselves than people whose career doesn't expose them to such emotions. Where do you fall on the spectrum of confidence and nervousness? No, really, do you consciously or unconsciously avoid opportunities where you are exposed to the possibility of being nervous? Do you have to regularly cultivate personal confidence in order to be successful in your daily activities?  

 

Yes, the blog is about the emotions of confidence and nervousness, but more specifically it is about why you need regular opportunities of being nervous. Was that statement a curve ball? Did that statement catch you off guard? It is true nonetheless. To not be exposed to environments where the potential of nervousness is a regular occurrence is to negatively affect our human growth and potential. 

 

Most teenagers avoid real opportunities where nervousness is a likely occurrence. Oh, no, they will engage such opportunities in frivolous matters, but in matters of importance, this engagement is largely absent. We've all been the teenager that did something stupid due to the pressure of our peers. As we stared this challenge in the face, nervousness was at an all time high!  These are not the situations I am referencing. Sadly, many adults follow the same trend left over from their teenage years. Due to the underdevelopment of emotional intelligence, the average adult gets anxiety even thinking about real opportunities for nervousness. Is this you? Do you avoid nervousness? Is nervousness an emotion you avoid or an emotion you cultivate.

 

This was the attitude I possessed for the first 15 years of my life. I was marginal at best in school, athletics and extracurricular activities because I did not cultivate confidence in my younger, more formidable years. It's not that I didn't want to be above average, but I couldn't understand why I could not push my performance beyond average. I was too nervous to speak up and ask questions in class, so I didn't. I was too nervous to go see the teacher after class for extra help, so I didn't. I was too nervous to admit when I didn't understand something a coach was explaining, and therefore, produced marginal results when it was time to perform. This was standard operating procedure in the life of this 15 year old. 

 

Then, along came my high school principal. He intentionally placed me in situations where I was nervous, but was still responsible for producing above average results. Speaking at school assemblies, leading community initiatives for a new high school, representing our school at regional and state-wide events, and being captain of the varsity basketball team are just a few of the situations where I was thrown to the proverbial wolves! This was brutal. 

 

I was stretched, challenged and there were times when I felt like crying due to the nervous feelings I had for each of these endeavors. Most people quit, but I didn't. I didn't quit because my principal would not let me quit. My principal made it clear that if I was to do more than be average then I had to embrace opportunities for nervousness and learn from these moments. Over the years, I have reaped substantial benefits from his difficult, but accurate advice.  

 

Today, I understand the successful or unsuccessful management of the feelings experienced in such situations impacts emotional intelligence. This emotional intelligence has a direct impact upon personal and professional success. Our ability to successfully manage feelings of nervousness and anxiety affects interpersonal relationships and professional performance. International speaker and researcher Dr. Dalip Singh remarks, "Emotional intelligence is one of the most important factors that impact professional destiny." 

 

Consider the most successful people in any given profession? Are they exposed to nervousness due to potential failure and embarrassment?  Have they had to manage the anxiety of not being confident, and then, over time becoming confident? Do their daily activities require a growing confidence? 

 

Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Stephen Curry, Serena Williams, Bubba Watson, Warren Buffet, Will Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and any other person you deem successful was regularly exposed to and learned from nervousness. 

 

So, when was the last time you had the opportunity to be nervous? When was the last time you were not confident in your ability to produce because you were in a situation that stretched and challenged your skills and abilities. Yes, I am challenging you to seek out, embrace and not shy away from such situations. Your palms may sweat or your forehead may display beads of sweat, but do not back out. Do whatever you have to do to stand under the pressure of such situations for when you make this a life habit, your confidence, and therefore your results, will grow remarkably. 

 

Not to mention, when unexpected difficulties happen in personal or professional matters, your emotional intelligence would have grown, and therefore, your ability to manage such situations with calmness and clarity will significantly improve. In conclusion, I'm reminded of the quote by Mark Twain, "Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain." 

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