Fear is an Interesting Animal

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Today I reached out to three men whose names I received from our Human Resources group that are interested in being part of the planning process for my company’s new LGBT resource group. All three are gay and work in different parts of the company.

I reached out to each of the men individually and had conversations that were easy, rich, and enjoyable. I shared an overview of my coming out. We talked about the purpose of the planning meeting for the LGBT resource group, and each man shared about their own lives. It was really very nice and so rare for me to have this kind of conversation in the work environment.

Then I went into my staff meeting. I had planned to discuss that the company would be forming two resource groups: LGBT and veteran and my role as the Executive Sponsor for the LGBT group. But as I looked around the table, there were three or four people in the meeting who do not report to me directly, and whom I had not come out to, and I got scared. I debated internally should I bring up the topic and decided to push forward. As I talked about the resource groups I was scared and felt my voice waiver and have a note of unsureness. I’ve done a lot of public presenting, so I suspect some or most of my fear was contained, but I’m sure some of it showed.

In September I will hold a leadership meeting with about 125 people in my organization. In the meeting I plan to talk about the resource groups, my role as executive sponsor of the LGBT group and I plan to come out. After today’s experience, I am worried about my fear and what it will do to me as a presenter.

I know coming out to this group will be tremendously freeing, but it’s frightening as hell too. I plan to script what I want to say and practice it a lot, imagining my team sitting in front of me as I practice. I need to let the fear come out in private rehearsals so that I can hold myself together when I actually present. I’m alright with a level of fear, but not so much that it’s disabling. And then I need to present another hour’s worth of topics as well, so I can’t be so rocked by coming out that I can’t get through the rest of the presentation.

Take a breath. Relax. Feel the fear and move forward anyway. Ah. Breath in. Breath out. Relax.

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