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What a Really Mad Goose Taught Me About Overcoming Fear in My Business

Last week, in my first training session at Fox Valley Wildlife Center, one of the things that I did was take a really mad, very large, Canada Goose out of his cage and put him in a tub to splash around for a bit while his cage was cleaned.

Was I nervous? Nope. I was BEYOND nervous and more like full out afraid.

I’ve been afraid of this particular type of goose for years. They chase you off of picnic tables as they charge and hiss at you. They’re fast, mean and if I spoke “goose” I imagine they have quite the repertoire of profanity.

While this poor guy had a fishing line injury on his leg, he was lucky enough to have found his way to a group of people who were determined to help him. Including me.

On my drive home from the center, I started thinking about my experience with the goose and how it really isn’t that different from when I have to do something in my business that scares me – or work with my private clients to move through their fears.

Here’s what I mean:

The advantage of having a HUGE “why”

If you have heard me speak, or know me at all, you know that one of my really big “whys” is that I want to donate $1 million to wildlife rescue. While I don’t quite have a million dollars to give away yet, I tap into that “why” in other ways so I can keep the feeling front and center. A few months ago after moving to the west suburbs of Chicago I found Fox Valley Wildlife Rescue and signed up to be a volunteer.

That goose needed help. He needed time to heal and a safe, clean environment to rest. That is what I signed up to help provide.

My desire to help the goose was stronger than my fear of him.

Having a really HUGE WHY can motivate you to do things you never thought you would do.

Start small

You don’t have to do the biggest scariest thing first.

I started with baby ducks that day! Then I moved up to slightly larger wood ducks and even a really docile Canada goose before attempting to pick up Mr. Angry Pants.

Starting small doesn’t mean it has to take a long time. I went through those steps in the course of 3 hours but each step gave me more confidence to do the next more difficult task.

If you have something in your business that you’re scared to do, start smaller. Go step by step away from the thing you’re scared of doing and start there. Move your way up to the bigger stuff.

The amazing advantage of a good mentor

Ashley was in charge of training myself and another volunteer how to do everything. Ashley does not have an easy job! She was very experienced and knowledgeable and gave me step-by-step instructions for how to approach the goose.

When I hesitated, she went and showed me how to safely pick up the goose: safely for me, and safely for the goose.

She stood by calmly with words of support as I tried and failed….a couple of times. She never got upset or moved me aside to just do it herself.

My hands were too small to be able to hold the goose’s wings securely against his body. That meant that if I wanted to get this angry hissy goose out of this cage I was going to have to lean into the cage right over him and grab him with my entire upper body. I had to trust Ashley when she told me the goose doesn’t have teeth and that he wasn’t going to hurt me. I had no personal proof of this and my mind was pretty much telling me the absolute opposite of what Ashley was telling me.

In the end I had to just trust that Ashley knew more than I did (clearly!) and just do what she said.

I have done that with my business coaches repeatedly over the years. Gone against what my fears were telling me and just do what they told me to do in order to move to the next level. I have always felt that being told I was “coachable” was an incredible compliment.

And it has been another compliment when one of my clients has told me that they know if they just do what I tell them they will be successful.

Find a mentor that knows more than you and has everyone’s best interest at heart – it will take you very far!

Fake the confidence and act quickly

These two things went hand in hand, not just with Mr. Angry Pants but with the other animals as well.

The more I hesitated the more opportunity they had to figure out how to get away from me. If I didn’t hold on solidly to them as I transferred them from their cages to their holding containers not only did they panic, but their panic could lead to them injuring themselves.

Nothing was more evident of this as when I didn’t act nearly quickly or confidently enough and one of the “teenage” wood ducks got away from me. Since the baby ducks I had worked with couldn’t fly, I very mistakenly assumed the teenage wood ducks could also not fly. Wrong.

In my first reach toward them one jumped right over me and out of his cage. He then proceeded to half fly half jump right into the laundry room.

Don’t confuse acting aggressively with acting confidently! Aggressively could have hurt the animals – and aggressively will push people away from you.

But acting confidently and quickly, even if you have to fake it at first, can lead to true confidence. By the time I was taking the flighty wood ducks out of the tub and back to their now clean cage, I was much better at capture, containment and not hesitating.

It’s ok if it takes a few tries

I think it took me three or four tries to get the goose out of his cage. As I mentioned earlier, I started by holding him with just my hands. I could do the first part of the process this way, but as soon as he was clear of the door, he would push open his wings and pop my hands right off of him. (He’s crazy strong!!)

Each time he did that I would just use my body to push against him and pop him back in his cage and we would start over.

Ashley told me it was just fine to put him back and start over.

After a couple of times I realized my approach just wasn’t going to work and that I was going to have to commit a little more and go a little further with my efforts. I also had a bit more confidence because even though I hadn’t yet been successful, I realized that no, the goose was not going to attack me.

The failures gave me the information and confidence I needed to take a bigger step forward.

Be scared and do it anyway

There was absolutely nothing Ashley could have said to me before I reached into that cage for the first time that was going to take away my fear.

If I wanted to help this goose I was going to have to deal with being scared and do it anyway!

Your business is like that sometimes too. Whether it’s going to a networking event, giving a presentation in front of a big audience or making an investment in amounts you never spent before – sometimes you just have to be scared and do the thing anyway.

Your biggest accomplishments are on the other side of that fear.

There is always a new level – a new fear

New fears pop up at each level you reach. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Well, it’s true. And it doesn’t mean that once you get over that version of uncomfortable that you’re good to go.

If you have big dreams and big goals there will be several layers of fears to work through.

Next week I’m training in the mammal room. Squirrels, chipmunks, opossums and raccoons. They all have teeth. Wish me luck!


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