Navigating the Unknown: Turning Anxiety into Confidence

Aug 24, 2020

By: Michael Matucci, Transformational Mentor and Performance Coach, Encompass University

I stepped off the plane with a James Bond-like bravado, forged while living for six years in various cities in Europe, becoming fluent in several languages, and working in dozens of countries in Africa, central America, as well as the Old Continent. Even a sporadic sleep on the red-eye was a mere stretch or two away from succumbing to my vibrant energy and peak physical health. I had moved to a new country on several prior occasions without knowing the language or customs, having a job or even a friend, but this time was different.

My cruising pace waned as I, looking for guidance toward my luggage and my ride out, saw only lines and swipes on the signs. Yes, I knew that it was Mandarin; however, I couldn’t read a word of it. There was no sounding it out or looking for a root word to build from. There didn’t seem to be posted any universal icons to guide me either. Glancing around for someone to ask in the vast and sparsely populated passageway, I noticed only a few folks busy doing their own thing. In the time leading up to my move to China I was all ease and confidence, and suddenly anxiety crept in. 

I lived in uncertainty throughout much of the year that I was based in Shanghai as every day pushed my comfort zone in a new way. My studies in the awkward sounding Mandarin often were of little use as the locals preferred speaking in their dialect, Shanghai Hua. Even the simplest of exercises, like going to the supermarket, was like walking into a maze as I recognized very little of the foods on offer.

I grew to love the Chinese people, and find the beauty in their foods and language, once I adopted one simple approach – I stopped judging and trying to figure out what was happening around me and started treating it like an adventure. I consciously let go of the safety ropes and dived into it. I went about it like a video game. 

Noticing that my anxiety was more present when I tried to control my circumstances, I let go of the idea that I was in charge and went about my day with a sense of play. Stress can come when we attempt to take on many new factors at once. Thus, I slowed down, simplified and put my awareness on just what was in front of me. That focus enabled me to pick up cues and clues from others and my surroundings that I otherwise would have missed, and those guided me to the next level.

Our topsy turvy country today, with its contradiction and confusion, is the perfect place to step into an adventure. Awkward obstructions, odd people, and a changing landscape can be the perfect obstacles and adversaries to sharpen your life skills and augment your ability to play the game. 

  • Take a look at life as if it were a video game to be played
  • Keep it simple and go one day, one scene, and one level at a time
  • Everyone in your life are the other characters and players, and they have important messages and lessons for you
  • Put aside judging, disliking, and blaming circumstances and sense what new signs, directions, and opportunities they could be offering
  • Trust that life is always working at for you instead of happening to you

You, of course, have the choice to wait and see what happens next. To see what the CEOs, politicians, and university presidents will do and be dependent on their decisions. Another choice is to confidently step on the field of life and take the game to our opponents. When you look at life as an adventure, you are in charge. 

To take a step onto your adventure, join Michael’s interactive workshop for TWN on Sept 3. Learn how to shift your anxiety and uncertainty into confidence and courage for your future. 

You can find Michael on IG and LinkedIn @michaelmatucci.

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