One of my favorite sayings goes something like: “everything you want is on the other side of fear.” (I Googled this to learn that it’s actually a quote from Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. Finally, I know where this came from.) This is so true of both our professional and personal lives. If we’re not doing the things we need to do to grow our business or take the next steps in our careers or personal lives, chances are there is an underlying fear holding us back.
It’s so easy to blame inaction on other roadblocks like lack of time, money, knowledge, etc., but if we do a little deep dive into our true motivations … I think we’d find that more often than not there’s fear of something that’s stopping us. I know for me, that has definitely played a role in some of the things that took me longer to start than I would have liked.
Maybe it’s a fear of change. Or, a fear of failure? It could also be a fear of being uncomfortable or a fear of the unknown. I think for many leaders, a fear of letting others down is a big one, too. I know that is one I hold close to my heart.
Tony Robbins is famous for telling us that we’ll do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure, and I think this is so true — even in business. Everything we do is to either run away from pain or experience pleasure. In essence, he says we need to flip this principle upside-down to focus on the pain. Instead of basking in the pleasure of overeating, for example, focus on how you feel full and tired and heavy when you overeat. After enough time, you’ll associate overeating with the pain and not the pleasure and it will be easier to control.
I would argue that if we merge these two principles — facing our fears and focusing on them, rather than avoiding them — that we can see great results. So, for someone who tries to deploy these strategies … here are a few ways that the pros say we can overcome our fears:
#1. Understand and Recognize the Fear
You can’t change something that you don’t acknowledge. It’s important for us to recognize our fears in order to ultimately face and overcome them. When you do this, you might even realize that your fear isn’t well-founded — that it doesn’t even make sense.
#2. Consider the Worst-Case
This might sound counter-intuitive, but a lot of experts say that you should then consider the worst-case scenario. What would happen if this fear really came true? In most cases, even the very worst-case is not really that bad.
I guess if the worst-case is actually really, really horrible or you’re approaching something that's super high-risk … you should probably stop right here.
#3. Now Think of What the Best Outcome is
Okay, now we look at what the best outcome is. What’s the best-case scenario. How would it impact your personal life? Your business? Your future? More often than not, we’ll find that our worst-case scenario isn’t really that bad and that the best-case is really rewarding and/or potentially fruitful for us. And, honestly, we’re usually wrong anyways. So, sometimes it’s almost better just to push forward and learn by the experience.
#4. Face Your Fear
Now that we know the two possible outcomes, it’s time to face our fears. Find a strategy or mentor to help you push through. Let’s say your fear is a fear of the unknown — you can work with a mentor who has a great grasp of that topic or read some books or take a class. Taking action towards meaningful goals and having a plan to achieve them — to push through the fear — can help you see the light on the other side.
#5. Keep it Up
One thing that I like to remind myself is to do something every day (or week) that scares me. I want to push myself to be outside of my comfort zone because that’s where real learning and personal growth begins. This doesn’t mean you have to go sky diving or rock climbing, but finding little ways to push yourself each day will only add to your growth as a human.
What are your biggest business fears? Have you challenged yourself to face and overcome them? Do you do something every day that reminds you to be tougher, stronger, more engaged? I’d love to hear how you’re facing and overcoming your fears. Let’s continue this over on my LinkedIn page …