What Scares You?

“If you want something that you have never had, you must be willing to do something that you have never done.”

Thomas Jefferson

In 1998 actress Helen Hunt had reached the very top of the acting profession. She won the highly coveted Oscar for her role in the movie As Good As It Gets. She was asked by a reporter, what she planned to do for her next role. While her answer surprised me, it also helped me realize why she reached the top. She said, “I will choose the role that scares me the most." 

You Validate What You Fail to Confront
Fear is at the root of procrastination. I have discovered that people are most afraid of the unknown territory. The problem is that your goals and dreams reside at the end of the unknown path. You must go down the unfamiliar road to get there! 

For example, everyone would be a millionaire if the requirement was doing what you have always done. What separates the self-made millionaire from everyone else is her willingness to do the uncomfortable. She may be afraid but she faces her fears. Once a fear is confronted, it is no longer unknown. 

What scares you? Is it the thought of speaking in public? Is it the idea of making cold calls to generate sales? Could be the prospect of starting your own business? As you continue to read, I will teach you a technique that will help you face your fear. 

Practice Under Pressure
If you are able to practice in an environment that simulates the risk, you can confront the unknown. For example, back when I was studying karate, I always questioned if what I was learning would apply in a real self-defense situation. Initially, I participated in safe sparring sessions with my friends at the school, but the thought of sparring in an unknown environment scared me. 

To overcome this fear, I entered tournaments against competitors that I did not know at locations with which I was unfamiliar. To my surprise, I won more matches than I lost, and gained an understanding of how I would respond under real pressure. By facing my fear, it was no longer and unknown. 

Anytime I feel anxiety about delivering a big speech, I reflect on my karate experience with the knowledge that I can respond under pressure. What are some ways that you can practice? Below are some scenarios based on the most common fears that I mentioned earlier:

Starting a Business
Before launching out on your own, get a job in the industry that interests you. For example, if you want to open your own restaurant, get a job working at a restaurant so you can understand how they operate, the challenges of owning one, and practice interacting with customers. This would give you valuable experience, and make entrepreneurship less of an unknown. 

Public Speaking
Join an organization such as Toastmasters International where you can practice your speeches in a safe environment. The average club has about 20 members, so you can gain experience speaking in front of a group. You will have more confidence when making a presentation at work because you have already confronted your fears at Toastmasters. 

Cold Calling
Set a minimum goal of how many calls you will make each day and stick to it. Start with an achievable number like three per day in the beginning. If you stay with your plan, your ability will improve and you will find the calls easier to do. The key is to place more focus in completing the three calls each day than on the result of the calls. In 30 days you will have made at least 60 calls. You will be more proficient at call 60 than on the first call.

So there you have it. Doing the thing you fear is a key step to achieving your goals and dreams. If you commit to confrontation, you will be like Helen Hunt and look the part! 

Eric M Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. To get additional information on how to achieve your goals and dreams, download my ebook. 

Don’t Let Perfect Become the Enemy of Progress

Nobody can do it like Eric! This was my motto early into my career as a District Manager in the automotive industry. I was responsible for five hundred employees and had seventeen managers that reported to me. My desire to delegate was low because I felt that if I wanted it done right, I had to do it. My days started early in the morning and ended late at night. I had limited free time and large amounts of stress. 

I then made the following discovery that helped me move from burnout to breakthrough: My desire for perfection was the root cause of my failure to delegate. I had allowed perfect to become the enemy of progress. So how can you avoid making the same mistake that I did?  Below are two steps that will help you to become a more effective delegator and break the perfectionist habit. 

Calculate Your Time Value
The first step that helped me to become more willing to delegate was to calculate how much my time was really worth. Start by taking your desired annual income and dividing by 52 weeks. For example, let’s assume that your annual goal is to make at least $110,000. One hundred and ten thousand divided by fifty two is two thousand one hundred fifteen dollars. Next, you take the weekly dollars and divide by the average hours you work in a week. If you work a 50 hour work week your time is worth $42/hour. Now that you know how much your time is worth, you can use this to determine if the task is worthy of your time. If the task is not a $42/hour task, then it can be delegated. 

I am often asked by business owners that work alone if they should hire a personal assistant. We have done the math and determined that their time is worth more than $60/hour in several cases. Paying someone ten dollars an hour to do the book keeping, make follow up calls, and schedule appointments is a smart investment that has created more time for them. 

Create a Follow-Up System
The lack of a consistent follow-up system is a major reason for the fear and failure to delegate. Many an entrepreneur has been burned by a task that they delegated to an employee that never got done. The key to successful delegation is to establish how you plan to follow-up BEFORE you assign the task. For example, most email providers allow you to schedule reminders on emails that you have sent that have not been responded to. You can set it up so that you get an email in your inbox in 24 hours that reminds you that you need to follow-up. 

When I was a District Manager, I used my “How will I know?” follow up system whenever I delegated an important task. I would ask the manager “How will I know when this is done?” They would tell me that they would call me to let me know. “Great, when can I expect your call?” was my next question. I would then put it on my phone calendar and set an alert that reminded me to follow up. 

Calculating your time value and creating a follow up system will make you a more effective delegator and help you to break the perfectionist habit. Stay tuned for the next Twiggs Time Tip. Or read more in the world’s most complete Time Management EBook for executives and entrepreneurs.