overcoming your fears

Last July 13th we had an amazing event that was all about inspiration and tips on how to overcome your fears. Catherine Heath, tech and startup blogger, was there and she is sharing with us her experience.

There’s nothing that boosts your confidence more than attending an event full of women talking about their experiences in life and business. You come away with such a powerful feeling of “YES! I can do this” – especially after a NOI event.

NOI and Medallia managed to bring together a truly inspiring roomful of women for an evening of talking about our fears, and how best to overcome them.

Sally Goble, Head of Quality, The Guardian

Sally Goble works in the digital development department at the Guardian, and she gave us an amazing talk about her experiences as a competitive swimmer.

Captivatingly, Sally weaved the story of her swimming challenges into a rich metaphor for trying to succeed in life in general, and was bombarded with questions from the audience about how she has managed to achieve such a high level of confidence.

Swimming the English Channel

As someone who has tried, failed and ultimately succeeded at swimming the English Channel, Sally is well-qualified to give advice on overcoming obstacles. Her advice was especially poignant, insightful and powerful.

Sally herself has a history of doing scary things, such as quitting her 10-year career as a lighting engineer in order to run a magazine, at a time when she knew nothing about publishing.

Sally is careful to reveal not only the thinking behind her successes, but the many moments of despair and perceived failures that lead up to the ‘final moment’. This is something we could all do with hearing more of, and sharing more of our own experiences.

The real source of failure

Most obstacles to success are in fact internal.

Generalisations can only go so far, but many women have been brought up to believe that confidence and success are not womanly qualities. If success is not overtly masculine in our society, it is, at the very least, unseemly.

While this is obviously rubbish to any educated person, it’s one thing to know the truth and quite another thing to believe it on a gut level. This contributes to an often overwhelming fear of failure, because we are restricted from embodying true confidence. Failure is seen as truly personal.

More people need to share their fears and their failures in order to overcome the tendency we have adopted to present only the supposedly positive sides of ourselves, which is exaggerated by selectively portrayed snapshots of our lives on social media.

The bottom line is, you may see someone being successful, but you don’t see how much they struggled to get there. This is because nobody posts pictures of themselves crying in despair when something they’ve tried to do hasn’t worked out.

Say it out loud

Ironically, as soon as you own your fear, and you speak it aloud, it starts to lose its power over you. This tactic works very well for Sally!

She talked at length about her fear of public speaking, and how she has gone from giving a talk in front of just a few people at first, to now being able to comfortably participate in panels in front of 100+ people.

Not only that, but she’s is rather brilliant at it, as demonstrated by her ability to captivate an entire room for over an hour.

Sally shares her advice for how to make yourself do scary things.

Here’s a selection of her top tips:

• Break scary things down step by step

• Know that it’s okay to fail

• Try to relax

• Remember that you always feel great after doing something scary

• If you educate yourself and you have the desire, you can do anything

• Distract yourself beforehand

The excitement in the room at Medallia was incredibly powerful as everyone started sharing their struggles to overcome the fear, and how they motivate themselves against the odds.

I’m sure everyone went on to do some great things directly after this event. Don’t miss the next NOI Ladies gathering!

Catherine Heath is a blogger and content writer for B2B tech and startups. She is the founder of tech blog Away With Words

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