Several of the top earners say that they still regard fear as a barrier that was stopping many struggling dancers from achieving their own success. How you handle fear is a key determinant of your success.
The issue is not, “Are you afraid?” We’re all afraid of one thing or another, because fear is both a routine emotion and Mother’s Nature’s hard-wired way of saving us from catastrophe. Fear keeps you on your toes and can even save your life. However, if fear is keeping you from selling, you have only two choices: Overcome it — or find another line of work.
DIAL T FOR TERROR.
The most important thing about fear isn’t to fight it but to face it. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting despite the icy fingers it wraps around your heart. Accept that certain situations make you fearful — and then sell anyway.
The more experience you have with fear and rising above it, the greater your confidence will become — and over time, the terrors will shrink. For many folks, fear never entirely goes away. Instead, they learn how to handle it, even to recognize it as an opportunity.
What follows are some of the major fears that dancers face and ways to eliminate them — or at least, manage them:
• Fear 1. What if they don’t like me? We humans are gregarious creatures by nature, so this is one of the deepest-rooted of human fears, one we all face at various times of our lives. This challenge is especially strong because you are selling your own services. The same situation applies to accountants, lawyers, dentists, doctors, even painters and performers.
• Fear 2. What if they don’t like my offering? This holds back a lot of dancers, especially those who are only just starting their careers. Seasoned veterans take that “no” as their cue to shrug off a prospect who didn’t work out, move on, and explore more fertile territory. The trick is to make several attempts to close your qualified prospects. After that, if you’re still striking out, look elsewhere.
Fear can undo all your hard work. When some salespeople walk into a sales call, they act like they have a sign around their necks that reads, “Please don’t kick me.” Customers can smell that anxiety, and they wonder if the person doing the presentation is afraid because the product or service really isn’t as great as the sales literature claims. Just as you check your image in the mirror before walking into a sales call, be sure to check that your confidence is strong.
When you sell your own services, learn to see them as a product separate from yourself. When prospects turn up their noses at what you are offering, it means they don’t like your wares, not you. Just because they don’t buy from you doesn’t mean you’re not a great person. Go back and reread Fear #1.
• Fear 3. What if I look stupid? What if I get so scared I barf, burp, or die on the spot? The key to doing your best is preparation. Research your customers and find out all you can about their challenges, opportunities, and corporate culture. Role play with more experienced dancers and learn from their surprises and successes.
You’re only human, so give yourself permission to feel nervous. No one ever spontaneously burst into flames, and there isn’t much chance you will be the first to leave nothing but a pile of ashes on the conference room rug.
Bear in mind the interviews we have all read with certain famous actors, the ones who admit to throwing up when performance anxiety gets the better of them. If they can keep going, so can you.
No matter what you fear, accept it — even expect it — and when it shows up, manage it. Then get back to selling. One last bit of advice: Don’t ever let fear shrink your dreams. If fear stops you pursuing goals, you’re not only poorer in terms of financial returns, you are impoverishing yourself as a person.