What is the worst that can happen?
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What is the worst that can happen?

Boy gazing out of a rainy window, for blog on What is the worst that can happen


I have written before about fears, such as public speaking or networking, and how you can take gradual actions to help you overcome them.

Sometimes though, it is hard to get through to the actions because you just get stopped by the fears.  That’s when the question, ‘what is the worst that can happen?, is really useful.  It is a question I often use in coaching as we drill down to what the perceived fear is, why it is frightening and how we can get passed it.  

The basic process goes along the lines of:

1.  What’s the thing you are frightened of (for example, public speaking)
2.  What the worst that could happen?  (I could look foolish)
3.  Why would that be a problem? (People may think I’m not professional)
4.  So what do you need to do so that you don’t look unprofessional? (Prepare my talk, know my audience, check my facts, practise, etc.)
5.  And what else could happen?  (Back to step 3 as many times for as many fears as you have.)

This process can go on until all the fears are addressed and you can take it to the extremes of what could happen.  (When running through this process for myself, I sometimes get to the stage where I ask myself, “If this goes wrong, will I die?”)  And sometimes, there is no action you need to take at the end of it, just a realisation that the worst that could happen isn’t necessarily as bad as you first thought.  For example, if you make a fool of yourself (in your eyes) in front of a group of people you will never meet again, will it matter in 6 months time?

This process works with the huge rational fears.  For example, if you want to give up your job to follow your dream to write or paint, it is rational to be worried about whether you will be able to make enough money to support your family and so it is sensible to do a ‘risk analysis’.  It also works with those fears which seem huge at first, but which, after running through the process, become tiny, or at least surmountable.

And often, the worst that can happen is that you miss your chance to do something brilliant!


If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.

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