Photos by Mia F. Antonio
By Maria Buckley
We’ve heard it all before. I don’t have enough time, I don’t know if I actually want to, I don’t know if I’m good enough, if I do succeed then what…the list goes on and on. These and other fears were confronted at the Murray Hill Institute’s most recent event: Focus Your Fears Into Action. The podcast style conversation was led by Bevin Prince and Brittney Levine who recently launched their own podcast project, Be My Neighbor. Both Bevin and Brittney have found professional success in New York City after being in the limelight, dealing with rejection, and repeatedly putting themselves out there in order to go after their goals. Their shared experiences laid the groundwork for a deep friendship in which each one has learned, grown, and been supported by the other. A desire to share all they were learning from each other led them to create the Be My Neighbor podcast—a challenge riddled with plenty of fears. Bevin and Brittney led a conversation in which they shared how they confronted their own fears, so that those listening could leverage the tools they used in order to take their fears and turn them into action.
At this MHI event, each attendee was met with a pen and paper on her chair on which to write a goal or dream. Then, each one was invited to write down what has stopped them from achieving that goal or at least taking action--cue the laundry list from above. All of the reasons that went down on the paper are aptly called “blockers.” Unpacking how they got past their own blockers, Brittney and Bevin revealed that blockers aren't usually a real hindrance to progress. More than likely they're just an excuse to hide behind. This is the moment to examine each blocker and ask, “Is this true?” Ask yourself if the fear that is holding you back is something true and grounded in reality. This is tool #1 on your road to success.
Lack of time was the most commonly cited blocker, but is also the least grounded in reality. If there is something you care about doing you will make time for it. As a good friend would, Brittney bragged for Bevin about the amount of activities she is now involved in versus the many fewer obligations she juggled when they first met and Bevin claimed she had no time. When properly motivated by a goal greater than herself, Bevin was able to make time. The key to making time is to take the necessary steps to carve out and protect that time. Herein lies tool #2.
Find someone with a strength that is your weakness. Bevin quickly responded to Brittney’s compliment to explain that she can now do so many things because she learned time management, calendaring, and order from Brittney. If you can identify your weakness you are already on the way to mitigating it since you can seek out the appropriate solution. This exchange also illustrated a common theme of the conversation. People, especially women, should rely on each other as supports, to lift one another up; not to see each other exclusively as competition.
This is where tool #3 comes into play. Sometimes to get things done you have to put on “blinders” in order to ignore the competition, the nay-sayers, and negative criticism. If you put on your blinders and see that no friends or colleagues are left, get to work to surround yourself with good friends. Seek out this invaluable tool. People need other people who will help lift them up, encourage them, and offer constructive criticism.
Mindset was the last tool employed by Bevin and Brittney to make Be My Neighbor happen. Both shared how they had to let go of their inhibitions and ego in order to fully engage in this project. Adopting a more playful and creative attitude allowed them both to enjoy the project and freely experiment with it to make it as good as possible. Bevin and Brittney were free to experiment and take risks because they were convinced that their success or failure in the venture was not what would give them dignity and worth. They were each already secure in their value as people and as friends, and this gave them the freedom to chase down their goal without getting sidetracked by the opinions of others. The last part of the good mindset tool was a piece of wisdom Brittney learned from her mother, who was quietly listening to the conversation from the back of the room. Pace and patience are essential to forming a success-oriented mindset. Brittney explained how she would make lists of her various priorities in A, B, C categories based on importance. If one persists and protects time, as happened to her, you will find that the A list priorities are accomplished, which makes the B list items the new A list and so on. Eventually you’ve accomplished the items on list C and new, previously undreamt of ideas and goals have taken their place.
The evening closed with other attendees sharing how they too eventually worked through their C list priorities and achieved success. Not only did everyone leave inspired and encouraged, but more importantly, each one left better equipped to pinpoint her goal and turn whatever fears were lingering before into action.