“Act as if it were impossible to fail.” — Dorothea Brande
Apparently your mind doesn’t know the difference between imagining and reality. You would think it would. I’m sure if I acted upon some of my imaginings as though they were real, I could find myself in a lot of trouble. So if your mind doesn’t know the difference and you have the idea that you are going to be fearful or perhaps you expect the networking event to be extremely stressful, then guess what? It will be stressful and cause you to be afraid. On the other hand if you go to the event feeling confident, perhaps with the attitude of whatever happens … happens, then you might achieve different results.
“The antidotes to fear and ignorance are desire and knowledge. Propel yourself forward by learning what you need to learn to do what you want to do.” --- Brian Tracy
Any effective sports coach is using this technique extensively. They spend a lot of their time working with the athlete in having them envision every aspect of their performance in their minds long before the actual live event.
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way”. – Babe Ruth, 1895-1948, American Baseball Player
If you are a Law of Attraction believer this is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, or even an example of the adage “You create your own reality.”
My first experience with the ACTASIF philosophy was in my early years in Toastmasters. Toastmasters International is the world’s leading provider of inexpensive communication & leadership skills training. As a new speaker I found it stressful to stand at the front of the room, with everybody staring at me and being acutely aware of my own nervousness. It surprised me to learn that even though I was shaking and fearful inside while delivering my presentation, it was not noticed by those watching and listening to me. There is a difference between inner & outer states. Yet, I am sure that we can all think of an example of a speaker that their outward appearance was one of terror, which would likely be a magnification of their interior state at the time.
What I learned was the power of imagery. Before my presentations I would stand at the front of the room or wherever my delivery area would be and I would envision myself being successful. In my mind I would see an audience that was hanging on every word that I said. They were nodding in appreciation of the content that I was delivering and they were laughing profusely at all of my jokes. I was a success … even before I delivered the presentation. When it came time to deliver my presentation live, it wasn’t stressful because I had already delivered the presentation in my mind and was successful. I will admit that quite often the live presentations didn’t go quite as wonderful as in my imagination or some of the humour fell flat, but it didn’t create any undue stress for me.
“If you do not do the thing you fear, the fear controls your life.” --- Brian Tracy
Every time that you make a presentation, and survive it, which you are likely to do so, you incrementally build your self-confidence. Self-confidence is somewhat like a bank account --- the more successes that you have in life the more that is added to your self-confidence balance.
When you undertake an endeavour that requires self-confidence, you dig into that balance and you use some of it. Unlike a bank account, using up some of your balance actually causes your balance to increase. The more risks that you take and successfully overcome, the more your self-confidence will increase. Unlike a bank account though, if you don’t use it, you will lose it. Maintaining a healthy self-confidence level requires practice.
I have found this very same imagery technique i.e. ACTASIF to be successful when I attend networking events. Before going to the event, perhaps while I am driving there, I envision myself having good quality conversations with the people that I meet where I am not the least bit nervous. I see myself making some new connections that I can both provide value to and receive value in return.
I would challenge you to test this method. When preparing to attend a networking event that you usually would experience anxiety over try imagining yourself being successful with your networking. Envision yourself having successful and rewarding conversations. Then when you are actually at the event act as if you are successful. Don’t forget, you already were successful in your mind. As Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek Next Generation would say “Make it so!”
“Most people are paralyzed by fear. Overcome it and you take charge of your life and your world.” --- Mark Victor Hansen
Top photo credit thetaxhaven via Flickr CC.