I was standing at the edge of the wooden platform, some two stories about the yellow inflated mattress on the lake below. My objective? To jump off the platform onto the mattress ( a/k/a “the blob”), crawl to the end, and then have my friend jump on the other end to catapult me into the air before making a big splash in the lake. It was supposed to be awesome. The blob was one of the most popular features of the Young Life camp I was at. But I was struggling to commit to it. I was right where I needed to be, but was wavering about the actual jump. My heart and brain were not aligned. I was scared, nervous, worried about breaking an ankle (which I had heard had happened to some campers). Part of me was convinced it would be all that was promised—fun, wild, crazy, a thrill—and part of me was still scared spitless.
So, on the edge of the platform, I froze. I couldn’t bring my body to do what I wanted it to do. I tried to psych myself up, saying, “Okay, I’m going to do it. On the count of three. One. Two. Three.” And then I wouldn’t budge. Or I would run to the edge and then take two steps back.
I can’t even tell you how long I stalled and hesitated, gearing up, only to step back. The sun was setting. Time was running out to blob.
Does this emotion sound familiar? It’s the same one that we podcasters face when we are about to launch our show for the very first time. We become afraid, hesitant, concerned about perceived and real dangers. “Will I get it right?” “Will people listen?” “What if it sucks?” “What if I screw up?”
The concerns aren’t physical, but mental. And they lead to reasons/excuses we can’t bring ourselves to jump. “I need to practice more.” “I have to get more interviews lined up.” “I’m in a slump.” “It’s overwhelming.” “I’m not as good as ____.”
Trust me, you are not alone. I’ve been there, too. And I’ve heard a lot of these comments and concerns from a have a heck of a lot of other potential podcasters. We are excited about the idea at first, but when the reality of the leap sets in, we can freeze. I am convinced that we hesitate not due to external factors, but internal ones. I suggest applying lessons from my encounter with the blob to conquer the fear & take the plunge!
1. Stop over-thinking.The longer you consider all the what-if’s, the more paralyzed you will become. Get out of your head. And do some real work to get ready. Settle on a name for your show, reserve your domain, pick your launch date. Concrete action steps will move you forward toward the edge of the platform. Doubts and concerns keep you stuck.
2. Practice ahead of time.Yes, preparation and practice are good. Preparation allays a TON of worry. In other words, if you were a musician like Bruce Springsteen, you could either worry about whether or not your concert was going to be good, or you could practice. Maybe I would have been less scared if I had jumped onto the blob or bounced around on it ahead of time. So, yes, do a few practice episodes, get familiar with tech. I guarantee that if you practice, you will be less worried.
3. Ask for a friendly shove.You might be tempted to spend too much time practicing and preparing. This can be an excuse for procrastinating. You need to develop a timeline for publishing your show and stick to it. You want to avoid “practicing” for the next five years or so. What you need is a friend to hold you to your goals/kick you in the butt to get you to move. I had a friend on the platform behind me, cheering me on. And it helped. If she hadn’t been there, I might’ve just climbed back down the ladder, telling myself I needed to “practice” some more.
4. Embrace the unknown—both the good and the bad. If you don’t jump, nothing bad happens, but nothing good happens either. Second-guessing leads nowhere. Literally. You will be right where you began if you never publish. You’ll never know the answers to any of the questions you ask yourself (Do I have what it takes? What if nobody likes it? etc.) if you don’t put your stuff out there. And what if your worst fears were realized—you don’t get it right, no one listens, etc. It sucks. You screw up. SO!?! The world won’t come to an end. And, actually, the odds are actually in your favor for a good outcome—most shows garner a decent following with a little bit of time and effort. Maybe instead of expecting the worst, you could start expecting the best.
When I finally leapt off of the blob, I was pleasantly surprised when none of my fears materialized! My friend, husband, and kids cheered raucously as I landed—somewhat ungracefully—onto the blob and crawled to the end. My husband (who is over twice my weight) promptly propelled himself off the platform next, blobbing me some 18 feet into the air, where I did an ugly flip into the lake which cleared my sinuses for the next three days! You get the picture. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. But I did it.
So the time to move forward is now. Consider this your “friendly shove.” Get over yourself and do it. Take the initial steps with your head down, barreling forward in the midst of fears, doubts, insecurities. You are not the center of the universe today and you won’t be tomorrow when your show is launched. You will make mistakes, but the world won’t end.
And if you need another friendly shove, just reach out to me. I can personally “blob” you to get you launched and where you really want to be!
Hilda Labrada Gore is a podcast professional who specializes in helping people launch their own shows! She has a book coming out this fall entitled "Podcasting made simple." She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts. She lives in D.C. with her husband, Mitch, their children, and their cat and dog.