Very early into my career as a book publisher, I decided to offer opportunities for authors to publish their books free of charge with my company. I did this because of my naïve assumption that there was only one thing standing in the way of people choosing my company as their book publisher over some of my competitors—price.
I soon learned that there was something else standing in the way, something much more difficult to conquer.
Fear. But a fear of what? That’s the question.
Or maybe a more accurate way to word that question would be, “What exactly causes fear?” And perhaps the answer is simple genetics – a surplus, irrational “fight or flight” survival instinct that is still present in the human brain even after thousands of years of evolution. The reptilian brain.
According to The Brain from Top to Bottom, written by Bruno Dubuc at McGill University, the reptilian brain is the oldest component of the human brain. And it tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive just as reptiles are.
Reptiles are purely instinctual. They don’t “think” or “rationalise” things through. Nor do they have any sort of emotional response to things. Reptiles simply react out of their natural survival instinct. When they are faced with a common situation that’s known to them, they either live in/on it… or they eat it. When they are faced with a potentially threatening (unknown) situation, they run and hide. Theirs is a pretty simple, straightforward existence.
Instinct is a good thing that serves a valid purpose in our lives, and we should pay attention to it; but, whenever your fear of the unknown has you avoiding potentially advantageous opportunities simply because they’re new to you, it is wise to consult with your more evolutionarily advanced neocortex—the logical, rational portion of your brain—by taking the following steps to overcome those fears.
(1) Articulate your fears
Write your fears down. Read them to yourself. When you do this, you’ll see just how irrational many of them are.
(2) Embrace your ideas
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve sat and had a coffee with who have sheepishly shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s probably a stupid idea. Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”
In my experience, introverts have a tendency to contemplate their ideas until they’ve picked them apart. But if you’ve had an idea for months or years, it’s not a fleeting thought. It’s a life form of its own that wishes to be expressed. It wants to be given life, and it has chosen you as the conduit. That’s a gift. Accept it.
(3) Be inspired
If there’s something you want to overcome or a goal you want to achieve, use whatever tools you can. Read books. Watch videos. Seek inspiration from others.
One of my most cherished sources of inspiration is a video of Spanx founder Sara Blakely talking about how she built her hosiery company from a mere $5,000 investment into a billion-dollar empire. She, too, was inspired by someone else—a speaker at a convention who said he could prove, in only four words, that there is no such thing as a bad idea: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES!
(4) Know your truth
Criticism stings for introverts and extroverts alike, but it’s a part of life. Let me tell you, from one introvert to another, a few times I’ve had to ask myself: What is the truth here? Is it the joy and enthusiasm I felt when I held a printed copy of the book in my hand for the very first time? Or is it the self-doubt I felt when someone criticized it later on?
Which one of those two moments will I use to determine the value of my book? I no longer base a book’s worth on whether or not I come up against criticism. Instead, I focus on the enthusiasm I feel after accomplishing a goal. That’s the truth I choose to hold onto.
Kim Staflund is the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the newly released Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors.
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