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On Having A ‘Good Scary’ Feeling

Being scared shouldn’t mean putting the brakes on your work. If you let fear get hold of you, you’ll spend your life conforming. And with so many people looking to make their mark today, who wants that? 

So let’s make a stand. Let’s take more calculated risks with our content, even if it puts us slightly on edge. Ringing the changes will help us raise the bar and let others see, watch or listen to something that’s bit different to what they’re used to. 

It’s better to shake the tree and not know if something is going to fall from it, rather than just stay looking up at it.

Not Conforming Is Open To All Of Us

The message in this article is not about being brave enough to fail, but about carrying on when we might be scared of the spaces we’re stepping into, the ones where we might not know the outcome. It’s about being a pro, wearing a smile even if, underneath it, a sense of fear might be kicking in.

The world of content creation is under immense pressure at the moment. Since the start of the pandemic, people and businesses have upped the ante, creating ever more content. From what started with a slew of webinars when we were all first ‘confined’ last spring, to people now finding their momentum – there’s a glut of messages out there competing for our attention – exhorting us to listen, download, join or subscribe. For the most part, the content sits neatly within what’s accepted in an industry or sector. 

This inclination to fit in which keeps others in one particular place, is an opportunity for you to figure out what it might look like if you were to step up despite any fears or doubts you may have. 

This sort of fear is the feeling you have if you think you’ve got something that’s really worth saying, when you’ve then done the work and you’re ready to publish, but somehow, you’re also managing to feel uncomfortable about being seen.

It’s when you deliver something you haven’t done before and have no idea how it’s going to be received. It’s when you create something where you’ve let your guard down and feel vulnerable or when you start something new with no track record to speak of.

But when others are busy conforming, it’s even more important to do something or go somewhere that others are unlikely to follow.

A Personal Perspective 

This is how it feels to do things that sit outside of your comfort zone: 

1) Live Video With Multiple People 

In May I decided to raise the stakes with live video. I decided to have a live version of the YATM weekly email as a way to tap into the LinkedIn audience. It was essentially designed to be an audience-building exercise i.e. if someone watching was not a subscriber, they could see what they could become a part of.

So far, so good. I then decided to move things even further, by turning the live video via into a multi-channel show. Nothing different there as many people use Restream. However, I invited people who were watching to join in and come onto the video. All live, all without a safety net. I didn’t want to deliver something that was one person broadcasting to many or letting others watch a one-to-one conversation, this would be all about getting lots of people involved!

I was afraid as I’d previously experienced instances where I’d managed to broadcast with no sound and had once highlighted the wrong URL to get people to join in, so running a live show and inviting guests to join mid-flow was definitely something I hadn’t done before and perhaps wasn’t best equipped for. 

Personally, I’d give myself a 4/10 for the first show and a 7/10 for being scared. I didn’t do very well and anyone on it could have seen that I was a bag of nerves, as I had one eye on presenting and the other on welcoming people in. See how bad it is here.

2) A Live In-Person Event That Is Also Streamed On Zoom

1st July 2021 is the planned date for the first YATM in-person event since February 2020. The twist is that people are going to sit in a theatre and be a part of a live Zoom show at the same time. Lighthouse, Poole is our venue so it’s the equivalent of going to the cinema, but then watching the world’s biggest Zoom screen!

Since March 2020, YATM Online has brought people together each month. It has allowed us to reach out to others from around the world and share the successes of those from within the YATM community, wherever they live. 

There is so much that I am scared about for 1st July. The first is the very idea of a live, in-person event with an audience watching simultaneously at home so both the people physically present and those watching online are part of the same live audience.

For instance, will the online and in-person audiences both feel that they’re equally part of something, or will the delivery be skewed to the live audience? How different will the show be from what we normally do? Can this become a regular thing? Will it have to be postponed with the government restrictions not being lifted on 21st June?

I won’t know the answers to most of these questions until after the event, but naturally, I’m scared as it’s something I’ve never done before and, when I’ve been looking around for inspiration, seems to be something no one else has done before either.

Both of the above make me realise though that you don’t want to be creating work that doesn’t make you feel a bit petrified. That trepidation however, is balanced with excitement. I think a big bonus of feeling the fear is that you have respect for what you’re doing and what you want to achieve. This means you can keep building with work that provides greater value. The more you do, the less scared you become. For instance, the in-person/online version of YATM Online is something I want to continue, so hopefully, the anxiety will turn into exhilaration the more we do it.

How You Can Frame Something As ‘Good Scary’

Doing things you haven’t done before may bring you fear but believe that, in one way or another, you’ll be ok. Being scared keeps you on your toes, helps you focus and makes you sharper. This is how you can take back some control and turn things to your, albeit slightly nervy, advantage:


Have a clear theme, not a definitive outcome.

Having a central theme to your work, allows you to retune, modify and get better. If you are 100% led by results, you will always be left disappointed. The last article looked at tuning into the cultural zeitgeist (how to make your work timely), this can work better than only being led by meeting certain goals (more subscribers, more viewers, more customers).

Being scared proves you care.

Good work comes from going to those uncomfortable places. People seeing how much you care about your work makes a huge difference. In a recent article, on better organic reach, “When people care about your work, you get seen and your reach expands as you take your place, week after week, month after month, growing your audience.”

The biggest thing that might give you pain is your ego.

If you’re scared about what you’re going to deliver (and you haven’t staked your mortgage on it) and it doesn’t work, the biggest bruise you’ll receive will be to your ego. For instance, if the live LinkedIn video doesn’t work, I’ll stop doing it. If the in-person/online event doesn’t work, I’ll look at what can be done to make it better. 

Being scared means you dont want to be categorised.

You shouldn’t strive to be the same as everyone else in your industry. Originality can become your differentiator. It takes courage to stand up and deliver your own ideas, your own way. Being fearful is part of the process of tuning into your real self. 

Erring on the side of caution and not going for it is much worse.

If you don’t test out new ideas and see them through, you’re just left with ideas on the shelf. As Peter Drucker said, “Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art.” Don’t let being scared overwhelm you because you might then never know what might have been. For instance, the alternative to not doing the YATM hybrid online/offline event is going back to the way the world was before the pandemic. This would be our usual in-person YATM Lunch Club. I don’t want to neglect the skills we have all had to learn this past year and the way the online Lunch Club was open to people from all over the UK and further afield.

Lets Round-Up

Looking back, how will you feel when you ask yourself about whether you have any career regrets? Because it’s far easier to regret something you didn’t do, rather than something you tried which perhaps didn’t work out. At the very least you know you went for it.  

Doing something that makes you feel apprehensive or even terrified in itself, gives you a story to tell. And having that unique story is, after all, a good thing to have. 

A good scary feeling is about creating and delivering, where your fears are at the top of the pyramid and underneath there’s a robust structure that helps you deliver something that’s helpful and interesting for your audience. It’s that sort of content and experience that will bring people back to you time and time again. 


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