I like security. I like to know “what the plan is.” And, for a long time I never wanted to do something unless I was certain that I could do it and do it well. Basically, I was afraid.
Fear is a tricky emotion. Depending on your personality, fear can control you in a clandestine manner. You can operate in fear and not even know it. Fear is dangerous to personal growth, and hidden fear is even worse.
I think it is pretty safe to say that fear prevents many, if not most, people from truly pursuing their dreams and reaching their maximum potential. Fear prevents people from taking risks, from making commitments, and from standing up for themselves. Fear is an ugly thing.
In my measly 30 years of existence I’ve learned that if you’re really going to conquer fear then you have to face it head on. The good news is that you have the power to take control of the things you fear, and you can use those experiences to propel you into a bigger and better you.
So how do you face fear, especially if you’re not sure if you’re afraid (and in all likelihood you are because everyone has some level of fear in their life; expect the certifiable types – maybe)?
First, you have to identify your fear and admit to yourself that you’re afraid.
Second, you have to take steps toward eliminating the fear by challenging it with action.
Identify and admit that you’re afraid…to yourself.
Sometimes you will know that you are afraid to do, say, or try something immediately. In those instances you can jump to the next step. But fear, more often than not, can be lurking in your subconscious. For this reason, you must develop a keen sense of self-awareness as to your actions and your words. Then apply the consistency test by asking “do my words and actions line up?”
For example, let’s say you’re fully convinced that you’re ready to kiss corporate America goodbye and pursue your path towards entrepreneurship. (For the sake of this example let’s also assume that you’ve already spent 2 years researching your business idea AND that you’ve already created a business plan – totally unlikely but let’s go with it)
Ironically, although all you need to do is take the plunge and get things rolling, you find yourself saying things like, “I’m going to start my business as soon as I have a little more money,” or “I’m going to start my business as soon as the economy gets better,” or “I’m going to start my business as soon as I know how I’m going to run everything.” Meanwhile, you’re on the verge of suicide as you sit in your cube, pushing around papers, and wasting time on the Internet counting the minutes till quitting time.
Now don’t get me wrong, planning and preparation are essential to avoiding a crash a burn situation, but considering the background of the aforementioned scenario, in all likelihood you’re not launching your business because you’re AFRAID. Your contradictory behavior (planning and developing, but never doing) is evidence of this fact. The problem is that you aren’t facing your fear because you’re making “valid” excuses for your inaction.
What to do?
ADMIT THAT YOU’RE AFRAID. Take note of your contradictions and get serious with yourself about what you want. If you have a passion for entrepreneurship, you need to learn to kick fear in the hiney. No matter how much planning and preparation you do there will always be an element of surprise and crisis that comes along with entrepreneurship. Get comfortable with that now and dig in!
Eliminate fear by taking action.
Now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you’re afraid, you can start taking steps towards conquering those fears. It would be a good idea to start small and build upon your little victories.
If you’re fighting the fear of starting your own business, I wouldn’t recommend that you quit your job, mortgage your house, and hire 25 people tomorrow to kick the crutch. Instead, you can start moving towards the launch of your business by incorporating your business entity, developing a logo and unique servicing proposition, and printing business cards.
When you start taking steps in opposition to your fear and you begin to accomplish your goals, you will find that your fear dissipates with each step. This in and of itself can become a source of motivation. You should use this to your advantage by finding ways to allow your fear to fuel your progress, thereby becoming less afraid.
FEAR – FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL
For the most part we experience fear out of negative perceptions in our mind, and most of those perceptions are unfounded. Fear can be a healthy emotion at times because it’s your body’s way of indicating that you are in danger. If you are hiking Mt. Olympus and find yourself afraid…I’d say that is a reasonable fear. Your body is basically screaming “uh, it’s freakin’ dangerous up here – one foul move and you’re toast.” The key, however, is not to allow that fear to control you or prevent you from pressing on in your hike. Acknowledge your fear, but also acknowledge the safety precautions you’ve taken and the training you’ve completed, and keep hiking.
The truth is fear is a constant factor in the journey of life. If you’re going to live your life to the fullest, you have to become determined to put your fear in a rear naked choke until it taps out. Then, take steps forward. The beauty in this process is that with every success in conquering your fear, you gain confidence. That confidence will drive you to take greater risks in the quest for greater rewards, which ultimately will lead you to fullness in your personal development.