Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Fear Driving You?

We are still in the midst of difficulty.

And with it, comes fear.

The kind of fear that roots you in your spot and if you move, you move slowly with apprehension and uncertainty.

It is the kind of fear that takes over your confidence, your clear sense of thinking and determination. It is as if someone else is driving your ship and you have no idea where you are going.

Most of us would agree that fear is a terrible thing, but we often only acknowledge it with the things that threaten our physical lives; such as fear of flying, fear of speed, fear of heights, etc. And yet, its ever-presence in our everyday lives is often masked as something else; such as hesitation, prudence, lack of confidence, or uncertainty. However, the underlying emotion behind each of these is fear.

Fear has a firm grip. Fear can keep us in unhappy relationships, the wrong jobs, or even worse yet; fear can keep us from living both at work and at home.

Ironically, fear is not about self-preservation but rather self-destruction. Its impact is often detrimental to our personal and professional growth. So, it should come as little surprise that people who achieve success in life know how to overcome fear's grasp in order to capture opportunity.

Warren Buffet says it best: "be greedy only when others are fearful."
What he means by this is that you have the opportunity to win and to rise above the rest when fear is in the air. In difficult times, the majority is not likely to take action. It is counter intuitive, but when times are tough, it is most effective to dive in rather than pull back.

The best antidote for fear is action.


Think about the small steps you have made when you have been stuck in fear and how empowering it is when you have overcome it. All it takes is small steps. Each step builds on the success of the prior one, and after a series of steps, the fear is abated. Fear usually paints a very realistic, yet terrible picture of the unknown in our minds, but taking small steps helps us recognize that this picture is often an illusion. Your fear may be drawing pictures in your mind like this:
  • I will never find a job to support myself or my family
  • I will never get promoted in this company
  • I will never get back on my feet if I lose my job
  • I will never make it on my own
  • I will lose my home
  • I will starve
  • I won't ever be loved by anyone else again
  • I will never earn any money again
  • I don't have any skills
  • I don't think there is anything right for me

The more you can challenge yourself to confront the unknown to see how these pictures are in fact illusions, the better you will become at overcoming fear. I believe that you can do this in simple ways every day, so that when you confront the big fears in your life, you are more equipped to handle them.

Here are some every day, fear-busting, confronting-the-unknown ideas to pursue at work at home and everywhere in between:

  1. Dine alone in a public place.
  2. Attend a social event where you don't know anyone.
  3. Travel to a city/country you don't know.
  4. Eat something you never have tried before.
  5. Talk with someone who doesn't speak your language.
  6. Speak to a stranger.
  7. Ask for help from someone you don't know.
  8. Do something you never have done before.
  9. Learn something new.
  10. Go first.

Come on, step out, take action and put fear behind you. There is bound to be a great opportunity worth taking.

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