How to Get Scary Things Done - Christine Kane

First things first, the size of your business does not matter here… stepping outside your comfort zone is always where the next big thing happens.

Ask yourself, what stops you when you reach the edge of your comfort zone?

Perhaps it’s meaningless distractions. Or you’re trapped in the why of being stuck. Or perhaps it’s the size and scope of the mountain you’ve created in your mind.

My friend, we’re not facing dark forces here. We’ve simply become master distractions in order to remain in our comfort zone – I mean, it’s comfy cozy there, right?

In this episode, I’m going to share about retraining your brain. I’m not going to insist you must be passionate about every task involved in reaching your big goal… nope, let’s don’t get sucked into that wormhole. 

Cuz I won’t lie to you, that first shitty draft of the email you’ve been dragging your feet on isn’t going to be full of passion as you put pen to paper… you just need to start!

Together let’s explore how you’re using your energy each day and how the Universe really wants to support your priorities. The hashtag my clients created years ago says it all: #doitscared. The results will astound you.

Episode Transcript

The challenge is that it’s in the doing of these things that we find ourselves completely mired in our shit.

Welcome to The Soul-Source Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative secretly sensitive, and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Welcome to Soul-Sourced Business Podcast, episode number two. And we’re talking about how to get scary things done. And want to start by defining scary things. Cause a scary thing can be anything. It depends on you, the business owner. So to that end, it’s writing a book. Or maybe it’s doing your first Facebook Live. Or doing your second Facebook Live or every Facebook Live you do. Going the gym. Calling a potential client that you met at an event.

Or in my case, outlining and recording a podcast episode. Like this, only my second episode. And apparently that’s a big one for me, cause I hit my own resistance to doing this episode. And I know that’s called irony, but there you go.

And in some ways, coaching is actually really about getting people to do scary things and holding the space for them to do it. Now, sure in business coaching, there is a lot of training involved. There’s a lot of learning that has to happen. But at the end of the day, if behavior doesn’t change, then nothing is actually learned or gets done.

And it does not matter the size of your business. You could be Sara Blakely, the founder of a huge company like Spanx. Or you could be my client, Pam who runs a small graphics firm and papery. And she just had to lay off her team because of the pandemic.

If you have a business, no matter what size it is, you are going to do things that scare you and push you up against every single level of your comfort zone. So when something feels scary, all it means is that it is taking you outside of your comfort zone. And that’s where big things happen, we all know that.

If you have a business and you’re growing at all, it’s almost always a growth from the inside. From your mindset. And that means hitting the edges of your comfort zone. Colleen O’Grady, who is a therapist, she’s a coach. She’s also one of our coaches here at Uplevel. She’s the author of the book, Dial Down the Drama. She’s a TEDx speaker, but she was my client for years and years.

And I remember long, long ago when Colleen was at a mastermind in front of the room getting coached. And we realized that her next step was to write a book,.Write her first book. And this was like I said, years ago. And I remember her face and how excited she was and how scared she was. And she had these big eyes and everyone in the mastermind was high fiving, her and cheering her on and she was ready to roll.

And then a few weeks later, she and I were on a coaching call and she hadn’t, she hadn’t written a word. She was completely stuck. And she said something that pretty much describes everything we all go through. When it comes time to face the doing of our great ideas. She goes, Oh, you know what? I liked the idea of writing the book much more than I liked the actual writing of the book.

And that pretty much has it all. Cause we all love our ideas. We love the idea of offering a workshop. We love the idea of setting up a really cool YouTube channel, or we love the idea of starting a business and getting our first clients. And the challenge is, that it’s in the doing of these things that we find ourselves completely mired in our shit.

And that’s because when you actually sit down to do the thing, your ego or your mind, or the scary, scary part of you, all of a sudden realizes that, Hey, this is going to happen now. And that’s when you confront all your patterns.

And that brings me to how we miss the mark here. So there’s two ways we completely missed the mark when it comes to avoiding doing scary things in our business. The first is when people call this laziness, like they see you as a procrastinator and then they say you’re lazy. Or you, call yourself lazy. Calling this kind of behavior lazy is a lot like how my college boyfriend responded to pretty much everything. Everything about me.

I remember when I finally confessed to him that I was struggling with an eating disorder. I was bulimic at the time and I shared all this stuff with him about how I hated my body. I couldn’t control my eating. I was seeing a therapist. And at one point, he did his best. He did do his best, but at one point he said to me, dude just run more. And you know, and then he started talking to me about eating less.

And all of us know this, that bulemia is not about not running enough. And it’s not about not eating the right amount of calories. And in the same way, procrastination, if that’s what we’re calling this, it’s not about being lazy. We can agree on that, right? It really is about this thing that we call our patterns and how important things, things that matter to us, they force us to confront those patterns that have up till now, held us back and kept us comfortable.

And this brings me to the other way that we miss the mark with this. And that is how we think about this idea of confronting patterns, because we all know this authors and podcasters who make it really sound cool. Like they talk about patterns and getting things done like we’re facing down dark forces.

So for example, like Steven Pressfield in the War of Art, and it’s a great book, it’s just that the way he describes this is that it’s all about this, this sort of dark force that we have to fight. And then there’s this enemy involved. And in the same way, you’ll hear someone like Jocko Willink talk about facing down the enemy.

And whereas that does motivate some people. I find that my clients and me too, when you sit down to do the thing, you’re scared of, it’s not this scary Darth Vader character. There’s not like an enemy and you’re not a Navy Seal. More often than not it’s sort of just this empty void of uncomfortable bodily feelings. It’s this maybe a single snippy thought.

You know, maybe it’s your sister criticizing your grammar in the email you sent last week. Or your ninth grade English teacher who ripped apart your research paper and then told you never to be a writer. Or everyone who’s ever called you a bitch. And you’re fuel of fear of dealing with that round of pain again.

So the thing is, is that when we talk about dark forces and if you see something like a Darth Vader coming toward you, it’s pretty clear like, Oh, there’s this very dark shiny thing that has black capes and big shiny gloves. And he’s got this super loud breathing style. There’s this John Williams theme playing. And I’m seeing that this is probably not going to turn out well for me. So I’m going to grab a light saber and I’m going to start to fight it.

But that thing that your sister said, that’s not Darth Vader. That’s true. Like that feels real, that kind of bit and hurt. And what if she was right? So in other words, from where you sit from where I sit, there’s no dark demonic force here. It’s actually pretty petty, stupid, fucking boring stuff.

And the thing is, it all arises the minute you get still and you’re sitting at your desk and your heart starts racing and you’re supremely uncomfortable. And it’s at that moment that it’s so tempting to like look around your office and you’ll find the immediate distractions and it can be something stupid, like a cluster of dog hair. That’s turned into a tumbleweed of lint and it’s clinging to your office wall by some random cobwebs strand. And theceiling fan is making a blow back and forth and you can no longer not see this thing.

And then the, the swinging dog hair, lint tumbleweed thing becomes a much bigger priority than starting chapter one. Or gathering the documents you need in order to let go of an employee. Next thing you know, you’re running downstairs. You’re grabbing the vacuum cleaner. You’re grabbing some rags and then that whole day is shot.

So in other words, this is not laziness and it’s not dark forces. It’s just this mental chatter based in a lifetime of the usual fears that everyone has. But you’re convinced you’re the only one. And I am certainly not the first person to talk about this, nor will I be the last, but here’s what I don’t want you to do.

When it comes to this idea of confronting your patterns. I don’t want you to waste your time on why, like, why am I so scared? Why do these voices show up? Why am I so distracted by dog hair on my wall? Why is my sister so critical of me? You know, it’s just not going to help you.

I call this the why hole and all it is is another procrastination technique. I’ll be at somewhat sneaky because it can make you feel like you’re doing something productive toward getting this thing done. If you dive into the why behind all your negative voices and the mind is going to convince you that if you could just figure out why this happens, then you’ll be able to stop it from happening. No you won’t.

And I’m not going to waste our time here going into all the reasons that this methodology is bogus. Just know that it’s your ego, trying to get you to avoid being uncomfortable and trying new things. So your ego is trying to keep you safe. That’s its main priority. And that priority is counter to anything you need to do as a business owner or creative, or entrepreneur, or whatever it is you call yourself.

So what I’m going to do here, is I’m going to walk through five techniques that will help you immensely. When it comes down to facing down scary things and getting them done, I did, I actually had 10, but it just felt like too much in, and I want you to get every angle of the context of some of these and why they work.

So before we begin, one of the things you do have to understand is that getting anything done means that you have to have made the decision to do it first. So until you’ve committed, none of these techniques are going to make a bit of difference because you’ll just keep playing games with the fact that you haven’t really decided yet.

So this episode is not about decisions and commitment, and I’m sure I’ll be teaching plenty on that in future episodes. Right now, we’re just talking about taking the action and doing the scary things that we all do as owners of business.

And our first technique is that we want to start with small windows of time. So that’s our first one, creating small windows of time. And we start with small windows of time when something is scary and we do this because when something scary, even if we know rationally that it shouldn’t be scary and that there’s no wild animal chasing us through the forest. We need to start small because when something’s scary, we first want to calm down that nervous system and make it not scary. Because when the nervous system’s all fired up, we’re susceptible to the mind and its usual round of games.

And that’s when the bitchy critical voices can feel very, very real. And a small window of time is a regularly scheduled block of time. That can be anywhere from just 20 minutes to an hour. And at first, the only rule is that you have to show up and endure the time block with no other options for distraction. So in other words, enduring the time is even more important than doing the actual scary thing.

And what this does is that it serves not only to make you less scared, but it serves as kind of a nice dopamine snack. And this is important because scary things can often feel nebulous. They’re big. There’s no definition. The brain doesn’t know when completion will even happen and the brain is looking for that completion or that resolution. And when you schedule and complete a small block of time, all you’re doing is you’re providing that sense of completion.

And what I’ve seen happen with clients and with myself is that when you have a series of small blocks and they start to accumulate, what happens is you create a sense of trust in yourself. So then you have the nervous system settling down. You have a bit of dopamine because you’re checking that box off of showing up. And then all of that creates this foundation of trust that you were going to continue the process.

Then this is also by the way, a great practice for perfectionists out there. And also anyone who tells themselves that they have to wait before they start this big, scary thing until they have that epic and illusory three months off or one year off. And in my experience, you may be different in my experience that just does not happen. And if it does happen, it’s usually so daunting that you don’t do anything. Like you just run around, clutching your ass the entire first three months, because you’ve never had that much time in front of you.

And this trains you how to start to have the kind of time to create. So the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with tend to be moms or single moms, they’ve had jobs first before they started businesses. They have big families, they have all kinds of duties. And I will simply tell you that they’ve created and built empires in small businesses using small windows of time. It is the only way to do things.

And that brings me to our second technique, which is also has a lot to do with getting around some of our illusions, but this time it’s a different illusion. And our second technique is to get accountability. That sounds very simple and very doable, but let me talk through why this is so important. So right now I am hosting a coaching group and it is called The Resilience Coaching Club. We set it up here at Uplevel as kind of like a response to the pandemic because it’s a way that people can get coaching access to me during these crazy economic times without investing in a mastermind.

But what I can tell you is that one of the most common questions that I get, not just on this, but in all my coaching calls is around this idea of getting scary, big things done. But it’s always couched in this little phrase “so that.” I call it the “so that scenario.”

And it goes like this, how do I get rid of all my fears so that I can get the scary thing done? Or how do I stop the raging voices in my head so that I can complete this thing I’m scared of. In other words, how do I get rid of, or fix myself so that I can face my fear and get this thing done?

The words “so that” are always a big red flag for me as a coach. And in fact, I almost always just erase the first part of the question and only focus on what comes after “so that.” Because the first part is usually where you’ll find all the procrastination and waiting strategies and where the stuck spots are.

So in The Resilience Coaching Club, when this kind of question gets asked, the first thing I do is I share with the asker of the question that while I am all for reframing our obstacles and breaking through old patterns, the truth is that none of this has anything to do with fixing ourselves first. Like this whole idea that you’re going to get rid of fear, that’s fixing yourself. Or you’re going to stop the voices, that’s fixing yourself.

And at Uplevel, one of my masterminds started a hashtag during their year and it’s been passed down year after year, and it is hashtag #DoItScared. Not one entrepreneur I know waits until they’re not scared before doing big, scary things.

So with that said, what I do with my clients and on these calls is that I proceed to take the asker of the question through a few questions. And I share with them first, what does work? Because what does work is accountability. And all that means is that the questions I ask are around them choosing and committing to what they’re going to do. So the first question I ask them is like, what needs to be completed? And if it’s a big, huge, scary thing, we then together, we break it down into pieces.

But almost always, it’s not that huge. It’s a task. It’s a call. It’s an email. It’s a conversation. And then we either do one of two things. One, we break it down into daily, small windows of time and they promise to show up daily. And they tell me exactly how long they’re going to do it, et cetera, et cetera. Or they promise to the group what’s going to be done before the next call next week.

And it’s magic. Magic, I tell you. The number of people who have called in the next week with just completely different energy around this thing, it’s been stunning. And that’s how accountability works. You find some person, some accountability, buddy, someone who cares about your success, as much as you do, and someone you care about as well. And you either make a weekly check in, or you simply call them out of the blue and you say something like I’m going to spend the next hour working on creating this new product. And then you go do it. And then you call them back after the next that hour. And you make them congratulate you. And you repeat this often.

And one last note on accountability, I know that there is a whole other way to approach this, where I’ve seen people make promises that, you know, if you don’t get the thing done, then you promise that you’re going to like write a check for thousands of dollars to some hideous entity of hateful people who are ruining the planet. For whatever reason, that has never worked for me. It has never worked for my clients, as much as I’ve asked them about it. So I think you do have to just kind of play with what kind of accountability gets you doing the scary thing. Basic accountability, no matter how you do it is a great technique for getting scary things done.

That brings me to our third technique. And that is to define quantities. What does that mean? So when it comes to getting scary things done, your brain’s biggest enemy is the nebulous. And I know I’m not a brain scientist and I’m betting that any brain scientists would probably say that the nebulous is not even a thing.

But let’s just say it is. Nebulous is now a thing. And at least in the world of coaching people to do scary things, nebulous goals are rampant. And nebulous goals make for nebulous results. So what is, what is nebulous? Well, it’s when you say things like, yeah, I should really get my website done. Or I need to write more. It’s a lot like saying something like, well, you know, we should really do something about climate change and being vague like that and maybe vagues a better work.

It’s a very subtle procrastination strategy because at some level, you know, you’re never going to do it. You know, you’re going to default to watching Netflix, if your goal means nothing to you, or if it doesn’t really have any parameters. So when it comes to facing down fear, clarity is going to be your new best friend. And that’s where the word define comes in.

So what I mean by clarity is providing your brain with definition, and that means you want to define quantities. We’re going to define three different quantities to make this so much easier on you.

The first thing we’re going to define is the task itself. So if you have a big, hairy, scary thing in front of you, then you absolutely must break it down into sections or tasks so that, you know, what’s yours to do that day. And the task gets to be small, you know, be like Anne Lamott and write a really shitty first draft of the email you have to send. That’s from Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, by the way. Shitty first draft. Shitty first, anything that’s a task.

So most of us make the scary thing so big and so vague that the whole thing is just a way to total un-clarity because so much has to get done and you just completely lose your shit. So you have to start by defining the actual task.

The second thing you want to define is the exact time that you will show up to do the task. And this is really important, especially at first. So you say 7:00 AM or 6:00 PM or 9:30 every weekday.

And the third thing that you’re going to define is how long you’re going to sit there and do the thing. That’s the actual time you’ll work. And we already talked about small windows of time. So the ninja hint here is that it’s always going to be a shorter amount of time than you think it should be, especially if you’re a perfectionist.

So defining quantities overall, it starts to train your brain how to be clear. And being clear and being precise is a skillset that every entrepreneur, every business owner needs to master.

And speaking of ninja tricks, one last little one I want to mention here is that once you know how long that you’re going to sit and work, then please try this, try setting a timer, grab your phone and set that time for that exact amount. And then what happens is, is that every part of your being simply knows that as that timer is counting down, you are doing the thing that you most need to do.

Over the last 10 years of coaching people, I cannot count the number of people who have come back to me and said things like that, timer thing that, Oh my God, that really works. It sounds so simple and so stupid that it’s easy to dismiss, but the reason it works is that it just simply provides that definition. It’s an imaginary container. It’s like the space where you, and all the space around you knows that you are now working and focusing.

The next technique is something I call unprioritize the feels. And what that means is that one of the challenges that I see among those of us who are more emotionally wired, there’s a bit of an attachment to the idea of passion or the idea of feeling good. Like, if I’m following my passion, then I should have passion in every activity that I do. And I am not telling you not to feel, I’m not going to try to Rob you of that. I get it.

But when you unprioritize the feels, all it means is that you don’t pause to ask yourself if you feel like doing the scary thing you said you were going to do. Because the answer is going to be no. Because you’re not going to feel like it.

And again, we want to take out that need that if you’re following your passion, or if you do something you love that everything has to feel like orgasms and pie. Like, Oh, I love doing this. I am now excited to my next thing. It just doesn’t work that way. And I think if we just simply unplug the need to feel something, feel passionate all the time, it just makes it so much easier.

So have you ever committed to like getting fit and going to the gym and working out or starting a yoga class and then the alarm goes off and you lay in bed and you think, huh, do I really feel like going to yoga? Or it’s oh, it’s still dark out, do I really want to drive in the cold to the gym? Of course, you’re not going to want to.

And I know this is a tough one because I totally understand when there are times in our lives, when our intuition is shouting at us and it’s talking to us through our feelings, but that’s a different conversation. This is a conversation about getting scary things done. And more often than not, I’ve seen people use the feels as a place to remain stuck.

So the way to change this pattern is simply, you know, use the accountability, make your decision the night before, commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, whatever it might be. Don’t have coffee and then sigh and think, Oh, I’ll probably feel more like it at lunchtime. You won’t. So don’t waste your time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out, and in this case, they need to be unprioritized.

Our last tip, number five is really about honoring your energy flow. And this is, this actually has two little things contained in it. So I’m sharing two techniques here. But first I want to circle back around to the story of Colleen O’Grady when she had started to write her book, because obviously she finished it and she’s now writing her second book.

But when Colleen was on that coaching call with me and she hadn’t written a word of her book yet, and she talked about how the idea was much better than the actual doing of it. What I did as her coach was I dove in and I actually looked at her writing practice and how she’d set things up.

So calling to coach, she’s a psychotherapist. And as it turns out, she was trying to write in the middle of the day in between her therapy clients. So she had adopted the small windows of time idea, which is great, but it wasn’t working. And this is where we need to talk about energy.

I teach something, I call it the five energies of the entrepreneur. And actually Colleen was the person who started to inspire me to create this training, because it’s a way that business owners can start to recognize how they’re using their energy each day, because I’m not into time management. It’s not about time. It’s really about you and your energy and managing yourself. And I I’m sure I’ll teach five energies of the entrepreneur in a future episode. But in this moment with Colleen, what I told her to consider was that she was trying to do some things that set up kind of a battle for her.

So think about the kind of work you do. If you are a therapist or you’re working with a client and you’re in the moment with the client, that work is a radically different energy. It is responsive. It is not creative. So the responsive energy is that things come at you and you send them back. It’s almost like a batting cage. The ball gets spit out and you’re like, bang, bang. Your entire agenda is dictated by someone else’s needs. And there’s a real joy to that. And most of us, we love that part. That’s our favorite part of what we do, but in order to get to the place that our business does that for us, we have to put out content. We have to be creative. We write books. We make podcasts. We do things that require creativity and creating frameworks and creating training.

So for Colleen to write that book, that creativity was a different energy and that had to be accessed. And that had to be used. And that accessing takes some time and it takes some space. And in my experience, I know not everyone is like this, but in my experience, those two directions, the responsive energy and the creative energy, they set up really different resource needs. At least in my brain. Many of my clients’ brains in this obviously worked for Colleen as well.

But the example I gave to Colleen that day was, Coleen was also, she used to be a musician. So I told her that when I was a musician, I had a really hard time getting back from being on tour and getting back into writing. And eventually I discovered the reason and that’s because when I was on the road, I was pretty much a pawn of the road.

I was all responsive. I had a schedule, I had an arrival time. I had a sound check time. I had a performance time. I would play songs that were already written. I would get clapped at, hopefully. I would bow. I would sign CDs and then I would talk to people and then I would have a hotel room to go to. And I would have a check in time and a checkout time. And then I would have another show to get to the next day. Same thing would start back over.

So when you do that for five, six, seven straight weeks, you literally just are in responsive energy constantly. It’s like a pool of being told what to do. And what I found over and over again was that when I returned home, I had to be so careful reentering the zone of being creative and writing because that’s not responsive energy. It is sourced, at least in my direct experience from a different place all together.

And I remember, after this one road trip, I hadn’t been on the road most of that autumn, and it was coming around to Christmas and I could not write songs. And I was really, truly convinced that it was all dried up. I was convinced that God hated me, that nothing would come. I was very, very scared. I mean, super, super scared, everything felt scary.

And I realized that the problem was I was just so in the responsive reactive mode, I had been on tour all the way through, into December that I was just addicted to responsive energy. I couldn’t access the creative side. So what I did was I shifted how I did it. I would sit down every single morning, first thing. And I would just be with myself and my guitar, very imperfectly. And I would set the timer for 20 minutes. And it took a long time. I think it was like seven days of doing this before I started to get a song.

And the song I ended up writing was a song that I call, that was called Overjoyed. And people always ask me, like, what are your favorite songs of yours? And that song became a favorite of mine. Not because, oh, this song was a big hit or anything like that. It was because of what I learned in the process of writing it. It was almost like a deep healing happened.

And what I learned was that I could teach myself to trust myself, but there was some very deep physiological things going on in order to enter that space. And so this is what I shared with Colleen. And even though she was doing small windows of time, she was stuffing them in between her therapy patients. And we made this one little tweak. She moved her writing time to the first thing in the morning, and that changed everything.

It set her up with the habit of accessing her creative energy first thing each day. And then, it freed her to move into the responsive energy later in the day. And that’s a much easier energy to access because someone else is setting the agenda. And once she established that rhythm, then she wrote her book.

And I will also add that my very first coach who I worked with when I was a musician, he always made me write first thing in the morning. And what he said was that when you do that, you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority. So action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing that you haven’t done yet. That’s very scary and it’s out there and you’re supposed to do it. And the date ends up becoming something you completely procrastinate on.

So what I’ve learned from all of these five things in terms of doing scary things is that you have to start. And that long story about me writing the song, Overjoyed, that’s the kind of thing that I can sit here and teach and teach and teach. But until you experience this stuff for yourself, it doesn’t really do me any good to teach concepts. You’ve got to have the direct experience of doing this, and then you start to learn your own style, but what we’re trying to get you to be as very compassionate about how you do it.

So, hey, if you liked what you heard today, my intention is to keep teaching you what it means to be a sole sourced entrepreneur. Because at the end of the day, your strategy is shaped by all this softer stuff that I call the soul track. So if you want continued coaching on this, please subscribe to this podcast. And I know this is only episode two, but if you want to give the podcast five stars, please go for it. I would love that. And hey, you guys, my book, the Soul-Sourced Entrepreneur comes out in November of 2020. It’s already up on Amazon now for preorder. If you want to go grab that, I would love that as well. And I will see you next time. Bye everyone.