(Image Courtesy of http://ydtalk.com)
Over the past few weeks I have been part of an experiment. A learning experiment. Seth Godin, one of the coolest people on the planet recently announced a new way of learning: Learning Together.
Beyond creative, the Krypton Community College (with its cool narwhal mascot) is an experience in learning with other people. The first class was centered on help to move past (or dance with) our fears, pick ourselves, and move projects forward. Part of an early assignment included interviewing people who brought something into the world and how fear played a role in the process.
The thought of asking pretty amazing and accomplished people about fear was scary in itself.
What if these folks didn’t really experience fear?
Maybe fear is just what the rest of us feel.
Was that what sets them apart in their success?
Maybe that is why I am not as successful.
I pressed on and scheduled an interview anyway (dancing with my own fear). When the questions moved away from the details of what this person had accomplished to how they felt and dealt with any fears that were part of the process, an amazing story emerged.
I learned that this person had to give a talk on a technical topic to hundreds of experts in this field. This person was not a technical expert on the subject at hand, but was part of trying to raise awareness, address challenges, offer solutions, and help increase funding for this issue.
Speaking to this crowd did bring fear (which surprised me because they are so confident). Fear of not being credible, or coming across in a way that would not acknowledge the depth of knowledge in the room and limit the receptivity to these new ideas.
So, they called their dad for advice. I will let them tell the rest in their own words:
My dad’s stellar advice on how to handle presenting information to a group of providers who were twice my age and real experts in the issue was to start off my presentation by joking that I was actually going to teach them how to throw the javelin.
It worked like a charm. I started to get into the stance, told them I was intimidated by their knowledge and expertise and recognized they knew the field much better than I did. So, I said that I’d changed up my plan for the presentation and was teaching javelin instead since I was the expert in that.
They all laughed, and were super supportive when I actually got into the real presentation. I also felt way more comfortable. And, throughout our time together a number of them became great thought partners/mentors/teachers and took me under their wing.
I think acknowledging my fears, owning them, and accepting them really helped start our work off on the right foot, and rather than feeling skeptical the group wanted to help me and later felt more comfortable sharing their fears about the work we were doing.
Great advice for any of us wrestling with our next project, idea, task, or talk.
Acknowledge the fear.
Own the fear.
Accept the fear.
And begin by Throwing the Javelin.