5A Coaching Power Tool Shruti Sridhar Murthy
(Leadership Coach, INDIA)
Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.- Les Brown
Living our Fears
Far too often, we kill possibilities and opportunities even before giving ourselves a fair shot at them because we have already talked ourselves out of it or in some sense given up. The cause? Fear.
It could be fear of failure, fear of consequences, fear of not being good enough, fear of what people might say or think, fear of letting loved ones down, fear lingering from our own past experiences, etc. The list could go on.
I have shared here just a few verbatims from my clients to bring alive some ways in which fear shows up and can be quite successful in holding us back from pursuing our dreams if we don’t do something about it:
- I am really interested in this opportunity that has come up. It is exactly what I want to be doing but is stalling it because I am afraid I won’t be good enough.
- I am afraid to put myself out there and claim what I am doing. There are others who are better/smarter.
- What will people say is what bothers me.
- My perpetual self-questioning has to come down.
- What if I fail?
- What if I am wrong?
- What if I make a fool of myself?
- I am afraid to lose what I have and I am not even happy with it
- I can see opportunities waiting for me to do more meaningful work..but am afraid to take them up. I think 10 times before I say anything because I am afraid of what others will think
- I feel like I would be faking it
- What if I am inadequate?
- Because of some bad decisions in the past, I am afraid..what if I make a mistake again?
- I am dealing with different assumptions but am afraid to test them out..because if they turn out correct, then I don’t have a way out
- Am confident about what I want to do but still holding it like a baby..protecting it…worried that it will be rejected
Each of the verbatims I shared above has come from people who are highly intelligent, capable, resourceful individuals, each having dreams of their own.
Living our Dreams
Dream is not that which you see while sleeping. It is something that does not let you sleep.― A P J Abdul Kalam, Wings of Fire: An Autobiography
The key to shifting from living our fears to living our dreams is always the same…A CHOICE. Living our dreams does not mean not having fears. It means acknowledging that we have these fears but that we are not going to let them define us or come in the way of our dreams. Living our Dreams means choosing to live a life that is meaningful and satisfying to us, despite the fears.
The difference between living our fears and living our dreams is the same as the difference between ‘giving in’ and ‘leaning in’. The intention that the person sets for themselves in both these scenarios is 180 degrees apart. Living our fears is equivalent to giving in to our fears. Living our dreams is equivalent to leaning into our potential and our dreams. Leaning in is like a ‘trust fall’. We need to WANT to pursue and live our dreams.
Having said that there are of course genuine challenges that we face while wanting to live our dreams. Some of them are:
- They seem too far fetched / too big / too risky / too surreal / impossible
- Are filled with uncertainties
- We are not sure if we are equipped / capable to make them our reality
So how can we as coaches really support our clients to make the shift from living their fears to living their dreams?
Playing out the Best and Worst-Case Scenarios
- Sometimes our fears seem bigger and more terrifying when we don’t call out the worst that could happen if our fears are absolutely spot on. I have found many times that clients are not able to really come up with a worst-case scenario that seems daunting enough. Once they have actually put into words what the worst outcome could be, they find that they can actually take the chance of pursuing their dreams.
- We could also flip this around and playout what the best-case scenario could be if their dreams were to come true. This takes the client to a more positive space of mind. The visualisation could be a good technique to use here as it can make their dreams seem more real, leaving them more inspired to pursue them.
Looking at the same situation from the perspective of someone who has been there, done that
- Here we can explore with the client what another person whom they consider ‘brave/gutsier’ or someone whom they hold in high regard would have done
- We can also explore what advice they would give their current self from their future self
Moving away from disempowering comparisons
A lot of times we humans compare our current state of struggle to the current state of an uber-successful person. Instead, if we approach this objectively, we find that someone who is successful today has most definitely had their share of struggles in their earlier days (more comparable to our current state). Just becoming aware of this can help us build resilience in our journey.
Leveraging SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) Goals
Breaking down a seemingly ‘mammoth, impossible dream’ into ‘smaller, clearer, doable steps’ can help build confidence and belief in our dreams because now we need to focus only on the next step instead of feeling overwhelmed by everything that we need to get done. Here, we are helping the client view the pursuit of their dreams more like something we chip away at over a period of time, rather than as something that changes with the flip of a switch.
Reframing our perspective of ‘failure’ to one of ‘learning’
A lot of times, one of the biggest fears people have is that they may fail if they try and that’ll be the end of the road. By reframing this perspective, we give ourselves permission to get up every time we fall instead of reinforcing the negative belief that our fears are more powerful than our dreams.
Oh, and every time we feel like slipping back into living our fears instead of living our dreams, it may help to ask ourselves ‘What’s the price we’re paying when we live our fears and is it really worth it?’
Will leave you with one of my all-time favourite quotes about living our dream.