Can fear be a good thing?

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00″ height=”300″ />Welcome to my first blog on this, my new site. I won’t be updating it daily, just when I feel I have something to share. Sometimes that might be a picture or video, sometimes some thoughts. There’s always a bit of stress involved in starting something new, so I thought fear would make a fitting topic for this entry….

“Andy, do you ever feel afraid just before getting on the stage to speak?” asked the CEO at the start of an annual conference recently. He was about to address 150 of his most valued clients and senior colleagues.
“Yes, a bit,” I replied.
“I think a bit of fear is good,” he said, before heading into the spotlight.

Though a very different setting, I remember vividly, the fear I felt the night before setting off to climb the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland. The terror grew and grew until the alarm sounded and it was time to start. I hadn’t slept a wink.

I didn’t want to let the team down, or myself; I desperately wanted to climb the route. I reminded myself that we had trained hard and memorised the first part so that we could find our way in the dark with our head-torches. Strangely, once we had tied into the ropes and put on our crampons, and committed ourselves, the fear faded.

I wasn’t blasé, absolutely not, but I now channelled the anxiety into being alert. I felt focussed and better able to manage the fear. There were elements we couldn’t control, such as the weather and potential stone-fall, but we had prepared as best we could and now we concentrated on each step in turn, steadily stabbing one foot into the ice and then the next.

The stage is not a mountain, but many people dread taking to it.

And I do agree; a bit of fear can be a positive thing. It makes you focus and plan; it ensures you take special care over something in an attempt to avoid a disaster. The unknown is scary and a strategy lessens the fear. Personally, I find the first part the worst. Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times, standing up in front of an audience, often strangers, and speaking for 45 minutes still gets my heart racing. A strategy I employ is not to worry about the whole speech, but to simply focus on the next step.

Sitting, listening to the CEO address his guests, waiting for my turn as one of the main external speakers for the day, I thought through my introduction.

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