"You didn't look nervous."
-Many people, after I told them how nervous I was when presenting at The EG and performing at FISM
When someone achieves something big, it's easy to look at them and assume they had it all under control. You don't see the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it.
You don't see the fear.
And I think its important to acknowledge those things, because too many people hold back from attempting amazing things because they're scared, or think they're not up to the task. They assume that people who make big achievements were somehow different; fearless, gifted, naturally talented, or many other things that are neither accurate or necessary.
Here is an entry from my personal diary back in March, about two weeks before the EG Conference. It's exactly as I wrote it back then, except for a couple of grammar corrections:
Getting ready to head to LA, and I am scared. Scared, scared, scared. Scared of not making a good impression at The EG Conference, scared of not getting my shit together in time for FISM, and generally scared of screwing everything up.
There are so many balls I’m trying to juggle, and so many ways I could drop all of them.
So far I’ve always ended up relying on some part of my subconscious to step up and deliver the goods at the last minute, and so far it has pretty much always come through. But once again, staring down the double barrel of The EG and FISM (more the latter, by a big margin), the deadlines are getting closer and there’s no sign of inspiration.
I’m scared. But at least I’ve done this enough times to have an algorithm to follow: make the decisions you would make if you weren’t scared.
Hence, off to LA we go. And hope like hell I come up with something.
When we're afraid, we tend not to make rational decisions. Sometimes the decisions work out ok, but are unlikely to be the best ones available. And fear will frequently make you back away from things that are really worth doing.
When I wrote that diary entry, I was seriously considering that I might need to pull out of the FISM competition.
Obviously that would have been the wrong move, and luckily I figured that out. When you're in an irrational position, affected by fear, pride, anger, or any other emotion that's likely to lead you in a bad direction, having a decision-making algorithm to fall back on can be a very good thing. In this case, the one that got me through was the simple one mentioned above; "make the decisions you would make if you weren't scared."
It doesn't always work, and I still make plenty of fear-based wrong decisions; life is scary. But moments like the above are ones that I try and hold on to, as reminders that it's absolutely possible to overcome that.
Sometimes quite unexpectedly.
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