Feeling scared can be a good thing

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Feeling scared can be a good thing

This week I want to ask you a question and please be honest in your answer – have you ever felt a little scared?

This question is relevant to last week’s blog about discipline and consequences because being scared of the impact if you break the rules is an emotion that will guide you to do the right thing, to do better, or to become a better person as a result. It’s a good learning experience. 


Can feeling scared be a good thing?

Yes, it can. In a moment I’d like to share a story with you to illustrate the point as this happened to me last week … I experienced feeling somewhat scared due to being way out of my depth. Hello! I’m human too you know

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jack Canfield


Do you have to be a scientist to work in the field of science?

You may or may not know, depending on how often you visit the blog or listen to the Back on Track Teens podcast, that my original career path was a pharmacist a.k.a. a scientist. 

I am privileged to be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador. In this role, I help bring a new and inspiring perspective to these subjects in the form of lessons and career opportunities.

Many young people shy away from these topics because they perceive them to be technical and requiring super brain knowledge about mathematical equations and chemical components. But you can still have a career in these industries in a supporting role that uses other equally valuable gifts, attributes and talents. Marketing and sales, people management and motivation, being the messenger and meeting people or planning the finer details all enable things to keep moving to allow the experts to do their job.

The long and short of my ramblings is that everybody needs each other’s gifts and skills to work as a great team. If everybody is in flow together, the overall output is incredible. 

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller


The battle of the robots!

Back to my story …

As a STEM ambassador I like to get involved with schools to promote the career pathway and last year I was involved in a high school project supporting a group of teenagers, who were creating a robot to compete in a national competition.

Now, even though I have a science background, robots are not my forte but I got to bring my supportive, mentoring and motivational skills to the role. 

I carried out Ignition personality profiles for each student and helped them to best match their skills to work as a team. We had youngsters who were natural designers and coders, who set about building the robot. There were creatives, who made the robot mascot and designed posters and t-shirts. The detail people took control of the planning elements and made sure the group kept on track, while others published their magic on social media, raised money and promoted the project. 

Every single student had a valuable role to play, yet none of them required technological, mathematical or scientific expertise. They worked as a team and were successful in the competition.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Michael Jordan


Being scared of the robots

As a consequence of my experience last year, I volunteered to help support the national finals again this year even though I wasn’t mentoring a high school team this time round.

A couple of days prior to the final I opened the email (that I had received about three months earlier) to see what I needed to know and uh oh – butterflies in my belly!

I realised way too late that the roles I’d been allocated at this year’s event were completely out of my comfort zone. Yes, I had two really technical roles – the lead robot inspector and head referee. There was a moment of overwhelm and a little sickness, but I quickly took a deep breath to try and compose myself. There was no way I could back out now, two days before the event, because I would be letting so many people down. I was part of a team.

Open Door

I made a brew and settled down to digest the 81 pages of detail required for the role – and I’m not a detail person! It was horrendous. The more I read, the more I felt I didn’t know. 

I was the go-to person for technical questions, needed to know all the competition rules about the play, scoring options, penalties, and I was the lead referee that others would look towards for advice. Nerve-racking? You bet!

“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” Lady Bird Johnson


Contest and competence time

I prepped as best I could and arrived bright and early for the event debrief, confident that I would get all my questions answered. 

Another blow, the debrief didn’t take place, so the volunteers just had to get on with it. Errr panic mode! But I was there, committed and I just needed to do it to the best of my ability. It was either that or step down and run away, which wasn’t an option because too many people were replying on the part I had to play. Let the games commence.

When the high school groups came to our robot inspection area from the judges, they looked a little shell-shocked. First and foremost, we helped to put them at ease and then came the inspection. Wow!

Who would have known inspecting the robots was going to be so much fun and easy? 

My inspection went something like this; “Hey guys, welcome to the robot inspection, let’s have a little look then, pop it on the table. Wow, great robot. So, did you make or buy any additional parts, or did you just use the standard kit? …Standard kit, that’s fantastic.” Thought to self: phew, now we don’t have to worry about the possibility of illegal parts. “Any flame throwers, knife flingers, projectiles of any sort? …No? That’s fabulous. No sharp bits, no dangly wires, nothing going to drop off or get you tangled up mid-play, no? All looking good. Excellent, let’s go get the robot weighed and measured, hmm it’s a little bit over spec, but we’ll let you through this time, but if you get to the finals make sure that you take that like quarter of an inch back off again so it fits perfectly. OK great off you go then guys, have a great day, go to field inspection.” 

What a relief, the inspection didn’t need to be technical and detailed – and I got to use my people skills after all.


Now for the head referee role

Yes, I was relieved but there was another nervous moment ahead as I took on the role of head referee. My team were relying on me and the schools were relying on me. Once again, despite my nervousness, being in the thick of the excitement was a thrilling experience and I got pretty good at noticing what was happening, nailed the scores, answered questions confidently and felt extremely proud. 

I am so glad I didn’t talk myself out of volunteering and run away when I first read the email. Yes, I absolutely learnt the lesson of needing to prepare earlier, but I’m actually glad I made the error because if I had taken the time to read the email and say ‘nope sorry, can’t do that, I don’t have the skills’ I would have missed out on such a brilliant experience. 

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt


What did I learn from being scared?

There was a big lesson to be learnt about preparation but aside from that, I took some valuable positives from the experience:

  1. Being scared is OK – you don’t need to talk yourself out of something, instead, talk yourself into it, learn new skills and experience something for the first time
  2. You are part of a bigger picture – even though you might be scared, if you commit to something follow it through because others will rely on you as a necessary cog in the wheel and contributing as part of a team is very rewarding 
  3. Prepare in advance – enough said on this one
  4. Being scared is a good thing – see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, to stretch yourself and trust in your own abilities to feel the thrill and adrenalin rush of achieving something amazing

If something new is coming up, I challenge you to go ahead, push yourself, step out of your comfort zone and feel the buzz of the reward.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle


Choose the life you want to lead

I love to hear about what’s coming up for you or what you have conquered in the past that you were originally quite nervous about.

Share your stories with our social community and add your comments below – let’s all grow together.

Until next week, step out of your comfort zone, even if you are feeling scared. Grow a little and be inspired…a lot.

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