Yesterday I appeared as a guest on one of my favourite podcasts, 70decibel’s Enough, with hosts Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley. You can have a listen to it here.

Patrick was kind enough to ask me to come on the show following a comment that I posted on App.net regarding my recent set up of a plain text productivity “system” and the subsequent epiphany I had about GTD and Productivity as a result. I think it turned out ok. Or did it? This is something I’m irrationally terrified about.

I had originally intended to post an essay today outlining my system and how it came to be - kind of a companion to the show. I still might, at some point. (I’ve got about 500 words in an outline for it anyway…)

However, my experience yesterday has driven me to a slightly more personal topic: fear.

When Patrick asked me to be a guest, I jumped at the chance. Why wouldn’t I want to be on a show I listen to every week? No-brainer, right? But after the initial excitement started to wear off, and as time crept closer and closer to yesterday’s recording, a nearly overwhelming undercurrent of terror came over me.

I’m not much of a public speaker and just the thought of seeing myself on video is excruciating. Even listening to myself in a recorded voice message is painful. As a result, I spent most of the twenty minutes prior to our recording repeatedly connecting to the Skype call-testing service, listening to how ridiculous I sound saying “Test-Test-1-2-3”. Let’s just say I’m glad I was by myself.

Now, by this time I’m shaking slightly and sweating profusely. Like buckets of sweat. I’m completely inside my head and whats in there is not pretty. Suddenly, the least of my concerns is how I’m going to sound on the recording. I’m now terrified that everyone who listens to this podcast is going to think I’m a farce. Even worse, what if Pat and Myke think I’m an asshole? This is a big deal; I really respect both of these guys, and I’d rather them not know who am at all than to think I’m a giant douchebag.

This sequence of events isn’t uncommon for me, and is definitely not isolated to public speaking. It usually spirals downward from this point and ends in paralytic inaction followed by self-loathing and regret.

I feel fear every time I go to write an essay for this site. What if I pour my heart into words and they never land with anyone or worse are never read? There’s a reason the content here is sparse.

I feel fear when reviewing my tasks and projects. Why? It’s just a list of mostly simple-to-complete actions. I’ve been reflecting on this - I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m scared of the unknown. What if I complete the task in question or make progress on a project, and I can’t figure out what the next action is? It’s ludicrous.

I can’t be the only one who feels fear like this, right? I think this is what Julien is talking about in The Flinch. Pressfield might have called it the Resistance. Merlin covers it in his talk “Scared Shitless”.

I’m working on it. I’m trying to push aside the fear and press on. If you’re scared shitless, maybe you can too. Do the work. Create. Click on the “Answer Call” button - it’s just three nerds talking about text files. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Fear | November 7, 2012 by James. Looking for more? Check the archive or follow the feed. Want to say hello? Send me an email. Or a beer.