Viewpoint: Running from Fears in Pro AV

Rob Voorhees
(Image credit: Future)

Running: You either love it or hate it, and there is no in between. I happen to love it. No, I am not crazy; I just love how running challenges me each time.

[Viewpoint: The Struggle for Presence Equity Is Real]

There are some days when the course feels like it's uphill. There are other days when, after the first few feet, you know it will be a challenge. And there are other days where everything lines up and you break your distance, time, or speed records.

Businessman Hurdle

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Regardless if I am feeling strong, weak, wet, cold, hot, or tired, there is one thing I am not feeling: fear. I'm not afraid to fail when I run because every step, mile, or kilometer that I go is better than sitting on the sidelines.

I approach my career in the same manner and have found several similarities. I like to quote Jimmy Iovine who said, “Fear is a powerful thing; it can either push you forward or it can hold you back.” How many of us approach our work in this manner?

Do you find yourself in certain situations where you feel like you are sprinting to the proverbial finish line for first place, or do you feel as though you are running in quicksand, never quite able to accomplish the goal? I am here to tell you that you are not alone. In my short six years in Pro AV, I find myself constantly faced with new obstacles—but I have learned how to tackle with excitement rather than be pushed back, thanks to what I have termed the "4 Be's.” Allow me to share.

Be Present

To be “in the moment” is something I think a lot of us struggle with in this digital age. How often do we tell our children to put down their devices and go outside? As adults, we tend to struggle with the same obstacle.

Whether I'm going for a run or prepping for a CTS exam, it's imperative that I have a clear head so I can focus on what I'm doing in that moment. It is OK to shut off emails for an hour or two, or maybe disconnect from Zoom while studying. Whatever helps clear your head the most is the way to go. This is also a great way to help you uncover what works and what does not.

[Viewpoint: If You Need Something, Just Ask]

While studying for my CTS in 2019, I remember one particular Saturday where I found a quiet spot in my house, cracked open the exam guide for the first time, and began reading and highlighting. After about three pages, I stopped and said, “What am I doing?” Book learning has never been a fun option for me, and I find I am invested and present when I am doing something hands-on or visually. While still referencing lessons in the book, I focused more on web-based learning, which helped me focus better and ultimately pass the exam.

Be Proactive

I have found that obstacles become less daunting when you are proactive as compared to reactive. For example, you find that your head spins every time AVoIP comes up in a discussion. You recognize that you are uncomfortable with the subject, and you lack confidence to provide a solution to your customers. Do you seek out the numerous online trainings/certifications to better equip yourself, or do you ignore that you are not comfortable and try to get the answers from a colleague?

One of the best compliments I think someone can ever receive is being told you are “coachable.”

The key here is to be proactive and seek out the variety of tools/resources that are readily available. You will find that the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more “in comfort” you will be long term.

Be Willing

This comes in a number of different forms. Are you willing to learn? Are you willing to change? Are you willing to be coached/critiqued? The basis of this is to simply be willing. If you go into an opportunity kicking and screaming (metaphorically speaking), you are more likely to fail. If you have the willingness to learn and want to succeed, it's only going to help you and push you toward the results you desire.

One of the best compliments I think someone can ever receive is being told you are “coachable.” That compliment carries a lot of weight, because you are essentially being told you are willing to listen as well as willing to correct/alter your approach—and willing to admit you are not always right. When you are willing to learn in Pro AV, you are telling your superiors, teammates, and customers that you are interested in going the extra mile to help them and better position yourself for the future. That is something that I find highly commendable.

Be Happy

This might seem like a trivial suggestion. When I think about any race I have ever done, however, there is one common theme: I have been happy to be in that place at that moment. You are at the starting line happy and eager to get going. Even as you encounter a hill or the dreaded muscle spasm, you find it easier to overcome because you know you are prepared and ready for what is thrown at you. Showing up to a race—or a client visit—in a pessimistic mood will certainly set you up for the same types of “pushback” that Jimmy Iovine talked about in his quote. A positive outlook provides the momentum to push you forward!

[Beyond the Tech: 'SEO' Is Three Critical Components for Any Successful AV Project]

These “4 Be’s” have carried me through quite a lot of situations, both professionally and personally. Whether it's earning a CTS, participating in an industry panel discussion, running two back-to-back races on the same day, or attempting to run uphill in 13-degree cold on a snow-covered road, all feats can be conquered with the right preparation and mindset.

My challenge for each of you is to finally seek out that one item that might be holding you back in some way, shape, or form—and break through the proverbial glass that might be stopping you from conquering. Overcoming our fears does not always need to relate to the dark or scary stories we heard as children. Sometimes, it is the most common of occurrences we experience in Pro AV that are preventing us from achieving greatness.

Rob Voorhees

Rob Voorhees is a business development manager for Exertis Almo.