Ep #83: What’s Bigger than Anxiety?

by | Podcast

When you’re doing big things in the world like speaking, writing and leading a big mission, anxiety can be a frequent companion. 

And when it comes to anxiety, almost everybody points to it and says “You’ve got to fix this. There's something you have to do about this.”

But the truth is that there isn't anything you have to do about your anxiety. It's a normal part of being human and yes, some of us experience it more frequently and some of us probably feel it more intensely in our bodies than others. I'm not disputing any of that. 

What I am saying is that there can be a totally different way of looking at anxiety and not letting it stop you from getting your important work out into the world. And in this episode of the Brilliance At Work Podcast, I'm sharing with you how I view anxiety differently, what speaking anxiety is, and what's bigger than anxiety! If anxiety is something you deal with in your work as a leader, be sure to tune in, my friend! 

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What speaking anxiety is and how to look at it in an entirely new way
  • The importance of not letting anxiety stop you from getting your big mission out into the world
  • What’s bigger than anxiety, including client success stories of overcoming anxiety
  • How lots of speaking practice can interrupt anxious feelings inside your body
  • Why our circumstances are never creating our feelings… and what is.

Listen to the Full Episode: 

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Brilliance at Work Podcast where we shine a light on where great work, charisma and leadership that makes a positive difference really comes from, I'm Michelle Barry Franco. I'm an executive speaking coach and your honored host and I'm delighted that you're here. Hello. Hello my brilliant friends. I am so thrilled to be here with you for another Brilliance at Work Podcast episode, especially since today we're going to talk about anxiety. I'm actually going to talk about what's bigger than anxiety, which I love so much because honestly in the world of public speaking and leadership we are looking so often, deeply intricately swirling around and the questions of what is anxiety and how do we stop it from happening? What can we do with it and we're going to look at this in a totally different way today. Before we dive in, if you could just make a note, you might be driving, you might be on a walk, which is lovely. I love that you take me along with you, but when you have a moment, if you'd just make a note to yourself to hop on over to your favorite listening app and give us a rating and review. You know that that helps us show up higher and sooner in search, which means more people who are looking for ways to tap their own natural charisma, their most powerful leadership will find us more readily.

This is a different conversation than many people are having in the leadership and public speaking and thought leadership realm and I just want them to find us. Thank you so much. Okay, let's talk about what is bigger than anxiety. When I think about what's bigger than anxiety makes me think of two leaders that I've worked with. One of them is the founder of a very popular, amazing company and product line and the other is a thought leader in her industry in a very creative industry. The reason I think of these two women, they both happen to be women, is that neither of them really wanted to be a speaker and a thought leader in their industry.

They're both leaders inside of their organizations. One of them as the founder and CEO of her fast growing organization, but she was still at the helm at the time and the is in higher level but not C level leadership inside of her organization. Both of them had to speak inside of their companies and they did it and they did it well, but they didn't love it. In both cases when I met them, they weren't really thinking about how they could get on the best stages in their industry, become recognized. Leaders share their message and change lives. In fact, my founder client wasn't thinking like that at all. She was just focused on creating an extraordinary product which she had done and then making sure that it got into all the right places and that people knew about it and she was definitely big in the media and all of that.

I spoke for a group where she attended an event and I said in that meeting, as I often do, one of the things that I love most about public speaking is that there is no more powerful way that I know of or you could change a lot of lives all at once than authentic, powerful public speaking, and she called me first thing the next morning and said, I can't even believe I'm contacting you because I have never imagined myself out there speaking. But when you said that, I realized I could really reach so many more people with our brand. Yes, of course, but also with the message that's at the heart of our brand and I had just never thought of myself as the person who would be sharing that message. She's not a person who is excited about getting on the stage, but she's super excited about the message at the heart of her brand and at the heart of the way they create their products.

When I think about what's bigger than anxiety, I think of her because she has lots of anxiety when it comes to public speaking, and she particularly had a lot of anxiety before that, so much so that she never even considered it. She had some people on her team who would go out and speak at times, but it just wasn't a big part of their mission. It wasn't a big part of their PR plan, any of it, but her desire to serve, her desire to grow her brand, grow her business also impact the way these kinds of products are made in our world was so strong and so powerful that the anxiety shrunk in comparison. She still had the anxiety and we worked a lot on her practicing so that she really felt like her talk lived in her, which is the way I like to talk about it with clients.

When you practice enough, your talk lives in you. Then when you're experiencing all of that physiological reaction to the anxiety, if that's what's happening, then you can access your talk really readily because when you're willing to feel anything, then you can take the action you really, really want to take. See, anxiety is just a set of thoughts and feelings in your body. That's all it is and hear me because I know some of you are like, how can you say this? It's totally debilitating. Remember I have had anxiety. I was diagnosed with panic disorder. I had a three day panic attack that kept me in bed about 20 years ago.  I absolutely know the feelings of anxiety in my body. I work with lots of people who experienced speaking anxiety and visibility, anxiety and a lot of ways because it's not just speaking that I help clients with.

It's visibility, it's taking a stand. It's having very difficult conversations with people on their team or even sometimes the CEO of their company because they report directly to the CEO. So these can be very, very anxiety provoking conversations, but the desire to serve, the desire to lead, the desire to make the difference that you want to make with your work and in this lifetime is bigger than that, but that's not what the world is going to show you. See, therefore it all gets out of proportion. Everybody's going to keep pointing to the anxiety and say, you've got to fix this. There's something that you have to do about this. There isn't anything you have to do about that. It's a normal part of being human and yes, some of us experience it more frequently. Some of us probably feel it more intensely in our bodies than others.

I'm not disputing any of that. I'm saying we don't have to look there so much. We don't have to keep staring at the anxiety when we can stare at the impact, the difference we can make all that capability and capacity within you to take action no matter what you're feeling. Feelings are the safest thing in the world. As my colleague and friend and teacher Amy Johnson likes to say and I just love it so much. It's kind of a shocking thing to hear at first and then such a true thing when you really think about it, feelings are the safest thing in the world. When you're willing to feel that anxiety, that physiological reaction and you know what it is, all it is an indicator that you're having a lot of thinking. You're having a lot of thinking about a situation. Some of that thinking might be wordless, like you've got old grooves in your brain that just say, Oh, you're about to get up on a stage.

We know what we think of that already because you've got this like old pattern is stick thinking. You've maybe got old experiences that play there. I'm not saying all that stuff doesn't happen in your brain. Your body reacts it, but you are not your brain. You are that powerful drive to serve that is so much bigger than the anxiety. Now I told you about the second client who is a recognized thought leader in her industry in this extremely creative industry and she speaks all over the world and in her case there are a lot of political dynamics within her company because she rose up as a thought leader far before she was in higher level management or leadership and so there were a lot of dynamics. A lot of people seemed to be, I think that there were some dynamics there of like, Hey, who do you think you are?

She wanted to be liked. Of course, like we do, we want to belong. We want to feel like we have great relationships with our colleagues and sometimes when we're rising up in a way that's different than most people around us, that can bring up all kinds of feelings, scary feelings that might make us think we shouldn't do this. But in her case too, she knew that she had something to say that would contribute to her field in a way that nobody else was talking about it and it was bigger than that anxiety, that fear of being left out of not belonging. Of course, over time she found belonging with its slightly different group and with a lot of those people who got use to the idea that this is the work she was going to be doing. That happened because she was willing to feel anything, and I'm not saying it was pretty, we had some sessions that were just all about sitting with that feeling and talking it through and letting it go and looking at what it really was.

This is what I needed to keep showing her. Keep pointing her to what I hope you'll keep seeing whenever you're feeling all it reflects his thoughts going through your head. Our circumstances are never creating our feelings. They're not creating our feelings. Those are thoughts that do that. You don't have to go change the thoughts. You just have to see that's what it is because the beautiful thing to know is there something so much bigger than that underneath it, and that is that desire, that drive, that knowing, that call to serve through your brilliance that lives in there that keeps moving you forward. Even when you've got thoughts, storms going on and feelings, storms going on, keep looking there. You don't have to look at that thought storms. You don't have to look at the feelings, storms, they're a natural part of being human. Look to that bright light brilliance within you that is so much bigger than anxiety because that call my friend. That is the indicator. That's your sign. You know this, right? That's your sign. You were made for this. I know that because you know that.

Alright, See you here next week. Thank you so much for being here with me on the Brilliance at Work Podcast. If you want to know how to tap your own most natural charisma as a leader and a speaker, you can download a free copy of Lead with Your Natural Charisma, Inspire and Motivate Your Team and Beyond with Ease at http://brillianceatwork.com/naturalcharisma.



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