I wonder, what is on your comfort zone challenge list (or bucket list, Life Goals, etc) that you keep putting off because it seems too hard, too scary, too big? A couple of months ago I did my first video (here, in case you missed it) and for a while my own internal resistance held me back. It just seemed too difficult and I just kept thinking and thinking about making a video. In my head I was making some awesome videos – if only you could have seen them, I rocked! But as always, thinking only gets you so far.
Now that I finally managed to shoot and share my first video, I have reflected on what got me from frozen with fear to successfully completing the challenge. I thought I would share these lessons with you in the hope that if you’re also struggling with a challenge and resistance is holding you back, you may just benefit from what I learned.
Fear has a job: to keep you small, stuck and the same. – Unknown
Technically speaking the video I posted to YouTube wasn’t my first ever video, but it was the first time that I had publicly shared a video – and I was so nervous about it that I had to close my eyes as I pressed publish. My actual first video was done a few months ago: a 30 second masterpiece that explained how to use a sinus rinse. No, really. Glamorous huh? Let’s hope that doesn’t resurface once I’ve made it to YouTube stardom (it’s imminent, surely).
Things only started happening when a friend posted a challenge to a Facebook group that I am part of, which was to do a 30 second video teaching everyone in the group something that you knew (I happened to have a sinus infection at the time). Before shooting my ‘Sinus How To’ guide I had only got as far as turning my iphone camera to selfie mode, pressing the little red button and then…… nothing. For some reason I couldn’t actually get any words out. I felt like an idiot speaking at an inanimate object. It’s amazing how the fear of getting out of your comfort zone can stop you from doing what, from the outside, can seem like the simplest things. I mean I’m pretty sure any millennials reading this would be thinking “What’s the big deal old lady? Shoot the video!”.
But I figured that I could probably manage 30 seconds and once everyone started posting their own videos I felt really inspired. Just taking the tiny step of a 30 second video about a random topic actually got me started.
You don’t have to start big, but you do need to start. Trust that momentum will take care of the rest.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
When I was shooting my 30 second sinus video it definitely helped me knowing exactly who my audience was, for two reasons. Firstly it meant that I could speak as if I was speaking directly to them and not just into a little hole at the top of my iphone. Secondly, knowing the audience meant that I knew that if I fucked up they wouldn’t judge me. It felt safe to speak, which meant that I showed up 100% as myself, not trying to be different, not trying to be ‘a person who was good at video’. So I posted the first video that I ever shot, no retakes, no edits, nothing.
A funny thing happened next. The original challenge was “Over the next 7 days post a video…” however that got interpreted by most of us as “Post a video for the next 7 days…” and everyone just kept on posting. I got swept up in the excitement and also posted 6 more videos. Yes, you may remember me from such videos as “How to boil an egg in the kettle” and “Why you should avoid tea when you have a cold”. The feedback and support that everyone gave was so valuable.
It’s amazing what feeling part of something can help you achieve. Don’t underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people.
Have a strategy
When the time came to shoot my first Cold Showers video I was feeling a lot more confident about speaking into the camera. Unfortunately it gave me a bit too much confidence to think that I could just hit record and start speaking, without having a plan of attack. I knew what I wanted to speak about, but having it in your head and saying it aloud in a clear and succinct message is another thing. I spent about an hour just to film what ended up being a 4 minute video!
I stopped and re-started about 8 times and at one point I found myself getting really angry and frustrated that I couldn’t do it. Finally I reminded myself that this is what being outside your comfort zone is about and that I just needed to figure it out. As soon as I changed my mindset I opened myself up to the possibility that maybe what I needed was a script (yep, slow learner here…). Even just writing it out made everything more concrete in my mind and eventually I shot the footage that became the final video.
Having a basic structure or strategy can help prepare you and give you confidence to take the next step. And if you think it’s going to hinder your creativity, read this.
Let go of perfection
The first time I played back my video footage I was so disheartened. Apart from the fact that putting makeup on (a rare occurrence) didn’t turn me into a supermodel, I was also disappointed that I hadn’t said something quite the right way; that my lips moved strangely; that I’d tucked my hair behind my ear; the list goes on. So, I reshot the video… nope, still not Heidi Klum. Then a few more times. Until I realised that no matter how many times I reshot the footage I would never say everything as succinctly, intelligently, or perfectly as I wanted. And let’s be honest, I was never going to get great at video in just one afternoon. Getting to the top of my video ‘game’ was going to take practice.
I also realise that in trying to achieve perfection you lose a little bit of yourself in the process. So my lips are a bit wonky when I speak and I have ears that make me look like Kira from the Dark Crystal, but that is all just part of who I am and isn’t that the whole point of video – to show people who you really are?
Don’t let your desire for perfection make you lose your momentum. As Seth Godin says, Just Ship It.
Go forth and conquer
Another thing to remember is that having the feeling of resistance is not necessarily a bad thing. And while I don’t much like the cliche of ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ it has a certain value in that you can’t expect the fear, anxiety or resistance to go away. You just have to use it as an indicator that you’re moving in the right direction and that it means you’re growing. Steven Pressfield explores this idea really well in his book The War of Art, I definitely recommend it.
These are just a few things that I found helped me overcome my resistance to the video challenge. My challenge is not going to stop here however. To really get great at video I am going to try and do a two week challenge to post a video to the Cold Showers Facebook Page every day for 14 days – so ‘Like’ the page and stay tuned! And if you’re game I would love it if you joined in.