Do you ever feel anxious when embarking on a business or filmmaking project? Are you ever apprehensive about meeting new clients? Do you struggle to go to networking meetings, socials or parties in order to meet people and talk about the brilliant services you offer?
First of all, it’s natural.
Second, it doesn’t have to be that way.
This article will help you take strong steps forward to get past issues of anxiety and nervousness in business and filmmaking.
WHAT IS ANXIETY AND WHY DOES IT AFFECT ME?
We all suffer from a little anxiety here and there. Even the best among us.
Take the fearless German director Werner Herzog. He’s been up against it and knee-deep in the filmmaking trenches for years. The tales of the torrid time he had down in Peru making his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo are well documented.
He experienced everything from crazed actors threatening to walk out of the production, actors coming down with serious illnesses and having to pull out, tribal warfare, extreme flooding and even actual deaths.
But, still, even after years of what many call one of the bravest and craziest of directing careers (not to mention one of the most eclectic), he still makes anxiety when the first day of production rolls around on a new film project.
He’s quite candid when telling the story in his awesome book, A Guide For the Perplexed:
“Strangely enough, one thing that does worry me – and has done for years – is the first hours of shooting a new film.
It’s the same every time: I arrive on set and look around, see myself surrounded by a group of exceptionally competent people, and desperately hope one of them is going to take charge.
I wonder who is actually going to be making this film, then quickly realise there’s no escape. That person is me.
It’s like a kid who steps into a classroom when he and his friends all know that the teacher is going to shout at him.
Over the years I have tackled this feeling with a primitive ritual. As some kind of protection, the assistant cameraman places a piece of bright yellow gaffer rape over my heart and across my back, as if I am now plainly visible as the person in charge.
This protective shield helps me settle in and get through the first hours.”
So if the great Werner Herzog struggles with something like this, then there’s no wonder that we all do from time to time.
Anxiety is a natural human condition, but one that can be overcome once you know how to spot it and you can develop systems (just like Herzog’s) that can help you out.
It’s best to see anxiety as F.E.A.R. And, as we have discussed before, F.E.A.R is False Evidence Appearing Real.
It’s called False Evidence Appearing Real because it’s a fear of the future, of things turning out badly. It’s not a representation of the reality of the present happening right now.
ANXIETY CAN BE HEALTHY
Anxiety is sometimes referred to as “the memory of danger.” Anxiety is great when it has a purpose. Our parents shouted at us when we went near something hot like a stove, and it instilled in us a sense of “hot thing = anxiety.”
Our parents had a purpose behind installing that anxiety.
And if we did touch the hot thing, we got a nasty scald for our troubles, to go along with a strong memory of touching hot thing = pain.
Pain is a powerful motivator.
Healthy anxiety allows us to be mindful of speeding cars when crossing the street and to get that unusual looking lump checked out by the doctor.
Unhealthy anxiety keeps us in limbo and scared within a prison of our mind’s own making. With anxiety, we’re afraid to leave the harbor of our comfort zone. As we’ve talked about before, “a ship is harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.”
SOME PRACTICAL METHODS FOR RELIEVING ANXIETY
Let’s say you have an anxiety when meeting new people, particularly at networking events or industry parties.
You enter the area and you’re stuck for words. Instead of chatting with people and telling them what great things you can offer them with your amazing service, you run as fast as you can to the bar to order a drink. Not only do you kill some time in the queue without needing to chat to people, but you are also getting some much needed dutch-courage in your veins.
There’s a better way to relieve anxiety than alcohol. When you know a couple of effective methods, you can gain confidence each time you do it and therefore get better at better at dealing with those difficult meetings and events.
A way to encourage yourself to talk to people is simply to interact quickly and positively the minute you get to a venue.
Always Be Talking.
- Walk into a venue with a friend and make sure you’re talking.
- Talk loud and gesture dramatically.
- Smile and laugh.
- Even if the people can’t hear you, they can see you’re animated and clearly having a good time.
The window of opportunity when you first walk into a venue is your time to set the standard for the rest of your time there. Don’t waste it. Don’t be one of those people who walks into a networking event trying to look all “cool” It’s not cool. You just look uptight and unapproachable.
Who would want to do business with someone like that?
Lossen up a bit.
Don’t make it any harder for someone speak to you than it should be. Unfortunately, other people have the same social barriers in place, so not everyone is going to be willing to approach you to talk. Break down those barriers by making yourself look friendly and approachable.
Break them down even more by actually approaching people yourself.
In order to make yourself look approachable, use solid eye contact, smile, be laid back and cool within your own skin. Lean back, move slowly, take up space. You’re comfortable in yourself and any environment that you find yourself in.
LIKE ANYTHING – PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Another important point to mention here is Practice. Practice is vitally important for everything we do here, but especially in the area of crushing anxiety.
If you’re not exercising your right to speak to people often, then it your skillset will slowly erode and disappear. Like I say, it’s your right…make sure you exercise it.
Like anything in business, practice makes habit. And perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi said that.
I’m reminded of a famous piano empressario who said that if he did not practice everyday, he would know. If he didn’t practice for two days, the critics and reviewers would know. And, after three days, his audiences would know.
This means that we must summon the courage to practice every chance we get, out there in the only place that matters: the field of human interaction.
Shy from commitment in this area at immense cost to your continued development.
The tiniest of effort to win means, at the end of each difficult meeting, networking event or anything else, a sort of victory. Pile those small victories on top of each other and your development, over time, will be huge.
Follow the strategies for interactions that I’ve listed in this section and you’ll soon be well on your way to gaining social momentum early on no matter where you are or what the situation is. That is, after all, a step in the right direction towards All Round Confidence.
Thanks for reading!