Many of my coaching clients struggle with putting themselves out there. It’s such a big deal, I’ve even created an acronym for it: PMOT (putting myself out there). At one point when I was working on my own fear of putting myself out there, I would award myself PMOT points for doing things that pushed me beyond my comfort zone.
I have found that fear of PMOT seems to be rooted in:
- Fear of failure
- Our limiting beliefs about ourselves
When I work on limiting beliefs with folks, they often find that their fears of putting themselves out there are rooted in specific beliefs. Some beliefs that cause us to play small include:
- I don’t like attention (or it’s not safe to draw attention to myself)
- I fear getting into trouble
- People will judge me
- Nobody cares what I have to say
- I’ll sound stupid
It’s pretty hard to hold these beliefs and at the same time muster the courage to get yourself out there. Perhaps you don’t possess any of the beliefs above, but here’s one most people can relate to: I’m not good enough. Most of us believe that at some level. When such beliefs are directing our thoughts at an unconscious level, the idea of putting ourselves out there becomes paralyzing.
Yet for most of us, our very livelihood is predicated on getting ourselves out there. For those who are, or want to be, entrepreneurs, we need to create a presence so that people will know what we have to offer, how we can help, and why they should choose us over another option.
It’s a frustrating paradox. We need to draw attention to ourselves to be successful, yet somewhere in our psyche, we have our foot on the brake. When an important task looms on the horizon, we might tend to engage in self-sabotage with behaviors like procrastination, balking at opportunities, or selling ourselves short.
So, how do we break out of this destructive pattern?
In my own life journey, I gleaned some critical insight on this topic from an unexpected place: an 84-year old, marathon running priest. I became friends with Father John when we both attended a conference in Assisi, Italy.
Father John arranged for the conference participants to receive a special mass at Saint Maria’s Basilica. He’d wanted to do it at the more famous Basilica of St. Francis but he was unable to secure a time there.
Now, I’m not a religious person, but I attended because I wanted to support Father John and to be a part of what everyone was doing. I’d been to Catholic masses before so I knew about the communion rites where the congregation partakes of the wafer and the wine.
Sitting It Out
In fact, I had participated in it before (note: some people have told me that as a non-Christian, I shouldn’t participate, but I didn’t know this then). On this particular day, I felt some angst as communion approached. I didn’t feel comfortable with the ceremony. I didn’t like the idea of taking the blood and body of Christ. So I sat it out.
Later that same day, on a break from the conference, I made my way to St. Francis’ Basilica. Despite my lack of faith, I believed that St. Francis had been a spiritual avatar and I wanted to tap into his vibe. I was disappointed, however, that I couldn’t find a quiet place to meditate in the basilica. It was overrun by tourists who were actually quite noisy.
I was about to leave when I noticed a chapel with a sign in Italian that seemed to say, “For prayer only.” I debated: I wasn’t going to pray, but meditation looks pretty similar. No one would know. So I sat down in one of the pews.
No sooner had I sat down than I noticed a priest with a shock of white hair preparing to deliver mass. I felt a little annoyed that my quiet space was to be disturbed. Then I noticed that he had running shoes on — just as Father John had had — and I thought: do all of these priests wear running shoes to service? Then I noticed, it was Father John. Here he was in St. Francis’ Basilica about to deliver mass!
I looked around and noted that it was a very small group of people in the chapel, perhaps less than 10. I started to feel kind of sad for Father John — you give a mass in St. Francis’ Basilica and no one comes? When it came time for the communion, I had no hesitation. I wanted to maximize the number of people in the line. I wanted Father John to see that I was there. I wanted to bask in this moment with him.
So I got in the line.
He seemed delighted when it was my turn. We chatted briefly, which I found a little amusing. Then, in the Roman style, he dipped the wafer in the wine and then placed it on my tongue.
What happened next I can only describe as transcendent.
That wafer hit my tongue and it was like the heavens opened up. I could practically hear the angels singing. Whatever this communion thing was, I was experiencing it. It was surreal, one of the most profound experiences of my life.
In trying to understand what happened, I came to a realization: by deciding to take the communion, I had made a completely selfless choice. I had put aside all ego concerns. I hadn’t hesitated for a moment with thoughts about how the ceremony made me feel awkward. I put Father John first and acted accordingly. And when I did so the universe responded with a resounding “Yes!”
I now see this moment with Father John, and the transcendent, as a model for how to approach my fear of PMOT.
It is easy to transcend my ego concerns when I put the needs of someone else first. I have something to say and maybe somebody else needs to hear it. Holding it back by not putting myself out there robs somebody of something that maybe they need to hear.
Fabienne Frederickson asks her students to engage in a mental exercise. Imagine that you have to give a speech in front of 500 people. That’s terrifying right? But wait… here’s the topic. These are 500 potential customers that you never served because you were afraid to put yourself out there. The topic of your speech? Why you didn’t show up for them.
It’s pretty frightening, right? Hopefully that thought is more scary than the thought of putting yourself out there.
So, who is your Father John? Who are you going to show up for? What’s your why? What’s that compelling reason that motivates you more than your fear does?
If you can’t find those answers, then start preparing your speech for those 500 people that you never helped.
I’m Dr. Kira Swanson and I’m a Life Coach for people who dread Monday. I work with corporate misfits who feel unfulfilled in their work. Together, we tune into what they really want, find new perspectives, and summon the courage to take bold action. Whether it’s striking out on their own, landing in a new job, or thriving right where they are, I help my clients to Love Monday.
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