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Navigating The Fear Of Change

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Well, in the past week I've been signed up by a top speaking agency, to join Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE and Dame Stella Rimington. An honour indeed.

And while I'm filled with excitement at the adventures ahead, I'd be disingenuous if I didn't admit to a slight feeling of nerves.

Sharing the limelight with the likes of Helen Sharman OBE and Rebecca Stephens MBE is certainly enough to test my confidence, to go within and consider whether or not I'm up to such a high standard!

Luckily for me, I'm very well aware that 'knowledge dispels fear', and I have a good understanding of the mechanics of fear (having spent 20 years as a movie stuntman!).

In this case, the root cause is a kind of cognitive dissonance. My sub-conscious is running software at a more comfortable place than this 'latest news', that has hit my conscious mind like a brick!

The conscious mind, with its five senses, is taking in the fact that I'm now part of an exclusive group of speakers, while the subconscious is still running the old software of not having a speaking agent and handling enquiries myself, picking and choosing which offers to accept. This difference in frequency causes that feeling in your gut (I personally feel it as a mixture of nervousness and excitement, but the needle can sometimes swing a little more over to the nervousness side of the meter, and make us wonder if we're doing the right thing or not!).

The Wobble Zone

Thankfully, I'm very, very aware of this place I call the 'wobble zone', because I've navigated it so many times before.

I've experienced it when taking up new sports like skydiving or cross-country hang gliding. I've experienced it when pushing the envelope in the TV and film business, performing stunts that could injure myself or others if not performed completely correctly. I've experienced the Wobble Zone when training for Guinness World Record attempts, or the first time I was a guest on a live chat show on daytime TV. There are hundreds and hundreds of examples I could list.

Common to all, is that having 'felt the fear and done it anyway', I have on every occasion raised my game and became a more skilled and confident person as a result. That's not to boast, but to state a fact that EVERYBODY encounters when they grit their teeth and push on through this Wobble Zone.

Once I'd got through my first live TV chat show with Gloria Hunniford some 14 years ago, I found future studio interviews much easier. My sub-conscious now ran software of a person who'd "done okay in TV interviews" so when a new offer beckoned, it didn't throw me into the Wobble Zone. That's not to say I wasn't nervous a few minutes beforehand (I think those chemicals released by the old reptilian part of our brain are quite useful in such scenarios - they sharpen our senses).

So in closing, the next time you have a challenge drop into your lap that causes you sleepless nights, or nail biting, or just makes you pace up and down the room wondering if you should carry on or not, remember this blog.

Remember that it's just two aspects of your mind at logger-heads with each other. The sub-conscious wants to keep doing what it's doing (the comfort zone), and wants to push away this new idea in the conscious mind.

You can (of course) push it away, and the sub-conscious will sit back, relax, and be very grateful. "Thank you very much". I'm going to recommend that you don't do that.

Don't Push It!

Don't push away this new thought. Instead, embrace it. Recognise that it's simply a new idea, acting almost like a software upgrade waiting to be installed. Instead of installing the software by pressing a button, we simply hold this new thought in our mind, consider it daily, and within the month, our marvellous human mind will install the software and accept this idea as 'real'. Indeed, that WILL become your new waking reality. That gives you a month to visualise the new idea, and to get excited by the change occurring; so become thrilled by all of those great doors starting to open.

As for me, I'm going to spend the next few weeks getting excited about the speaking engagements coming my way in 2017, the places I'll visit and the people I'll meet. More importantly I'll be thinking daily about any difference I will make to people's lives through my talks (however small) - an aspect that gets my heart pumping. I can't wait. And that 'wobble zone' I've been in for the last few days; it's already feeling a much nicer place to be.

Wishing You Great Success

Curtis Rivers

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