Performing artists believe their professional growth relies on taking the roles that scare them most. Event Planners everywhere, take note.

For performers, following the fear isn’t only a good idea, it truly represents a mandate for success. The act of getting on stage itself, for instance, is quite scary for most individuals. Creating a set, or a scene, or a story from scratch and hoping that an audience of strangers will find enjoyment from it? Well, that’s downright terrifying. Still, talented performers across all art forms continue to extend themselves, embrace vulnerability and follow their fear. Society is undoubtedly better off as a result.

While “following the fear” is so deeply ingrained in performance art, for event planners, the concept has largely remained an idealistic approach to leadership. We frequently hear experts discuss the importance of overcoming failure and pursuing the unknown, but within organisations, employees are rarely encouraged to take real risks, or to try new initiatives that will have highly uncertain results.

Certainly, being risk averse is logical, it takes years to build an impactful business, and just one bad decision to potentially destroy it; ultimately our economy can’t sustain a scenario where everyone is taking massive risks all of the time. We need stability as much as we need risk. However, for event planners to realise massive success, they have to be willing to leave the safety net of stability behind and follow their fears into the unknown.

Doing so can result in two different opportunities for success:

1. Apply Your Skill-Set In New Ways

Most skills, particularly of the “softer” variety, including communication, creativity and problem-solving, are widely transferable across a myriad of occupations. Strong event planners are often able to parlay their soft skills into unexpected opportunities by maintaining an open mind and following the fear.
In the creative world, there are so many examples of individuals who have realised professional success as a result of their on-stage aptitude. One such person is James Blunt, a former tank commander, (and arguably the most ridiculed man in pop) not only conquered the charts but went on to gain a new army of fans by battling it out on Twitter.

To most celebrities, calling out fans on Twitter is a risky move as the chances of it backfiring are huge, evident by his record labels actions which he describes in a recent interview, “Twitter has given me my own voice. After I posted my first two tweets the record label phoned me and asked me to stop. I said, ‘I really can’t because I’ve opened a Pandora’s box and I’m enjoying it.'”

The quick-fire social medium has proved popular with the pithy and profound, but it has unfortunately also become a playground for bullies, sex pests and worse. Blunt’s smoking-out and slapping-down of these internet trolls is a joy to behold. Unsurprising maybe, as it is Twitter that has made James Blunt the new King Of Cool – he now has more than 1.24 million followers.

2. An Untapped Audience With Similar Goals

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to personal success is our own self-valuation. People tend to internally downplay their own intellect and perspective, even while outwardly projecting the opposite to their audiences. Why? Because if we are honest about ourselves, our motivations, our opinions, our fears, it leaves us exposed and vulnerable. While opening up to an audience in an honest manner may lead to criticism, it also is a fantastic way to engage them in more meaningful and impactful ways.

Samantha Jayne is a primary example of someone who has tapped into a sizeable audience through embracing vulnerability. Just a few years ago, Jayne was living in New York City and working in the advertising industry. While her work was compelling, she wanted to create media that would emotionally engage people, not simply sell products and services.

At the same time, she recognised that many of her friends and colleagues were feeling the same pressures and anxieties that she was experiencing. So, she started designing short poems targeted at the millennial audience. Pairing the poems with original artwork, she leaned on her advertising skill-set to engage a wide audience using the Instagram handle, @quarterlifepoetry.

Today, the account has north of 100,000 followers, and has led to Jayne’s first book, entitled ‘Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke & Hangry‘. On the surface level, opening up about everyday anxieties may not have motivated most people into action, but Samantha saw it as an opportunity to connect with others in an honest and emotional way.

How are you following the fear in your personal and professional endeavors? You’ll be surprised at how doing so can lead to far more fulfilling opportunities.