Updated: Nov 18, 2019
We can truly be successful when we learn how to engage, and fall in love with, our fears.
I recently delivered a keynote speech to a highly engaged audience at a professional women’s work and life conference. During the Q&A section, a young woman told me she had a big dream, which she was certain would solve problems for a lot of people, but she was too afraid to act on it.
Can you relate? How well do you understand fear and do you believe you can grow to love it?
Getting to Know Fear
Fear is natural, and we are more likely to feel fear when we are breaking through our comfort zones.
Fear is our bodies’ way of signaling to us to be alert and cautious. Most commonly, we experience fear based on our recollection of negative experiences in the past, negative conditions in the present, or in anticipation of negative or unknown outcomes in the future.
Fear is closely related to the subject of risk-taking, which I discuss in this post. According to Akshay Nanavati, Iraq war veteran and author of Fearvana: the Revolutionary Science of How to Turn Fear into Health, Wealth, and Happiness, “everything worthwhile I’ve done has been absolutely terrifying.. you cannot have something you’ve never had before or be someone you’ve never been before, unless you do something you’ve never done before. And that means you’re going to have to take a risk to evolve, and with risk comes fear. That’s the brain’s natural response to doing something you’ve never done.”
Expect fear, and follow the five steps below to act in spite of fear.
Five Ways to Fall in Love with Fear
1. Acknowledge It. In the midst of our fast-paced lives, we often don’t recognize when we feel strong emotions such as fear. Allow yourself to acknowledge the fear, but remember it’s natural, and it’s an emotion that can be changed or transformed in a moment.
2. Focus on the Possibilities. Be crystal clear about where you want to go. This picture must be clearer and more compelling than the pictures that trigger fear. If you focus on negative outcomes, distractions in the present moment, or negative outcomes in the future, you are more likely to be crippled by the fear and hesitation. Instead, create a clearer picture of what you want, the possibilities related to that outcome, and your purpose in wanting it.
3. Learn from History. Recall a time when you were afraid of a negative outcome that didn’t come to pass. Three years ago, I had a fear of social media. I periodically engaged on LinkedIn, but believed other social media channels were plagued with negativity, would be sources of ongoing distractions, and result in complete misuse of my valuable time. Thankfully, in embracing one important component of my life purpose to inspire the next generation of leaders, I began to engage on other platforms. My experience has been the exact opposite of what I’d feared three years ago. Through purposeful use of social media, I’ve developed and continue to deepen strong relationships on various social media platforms.
4. Use the Fear. Consider the worst-case scenario and allow it to inspire you to prepare. What is the worst that could happen and what steps can you take to prepare for that scenario?
5. Step into the Breach. Appreciate that there is a gap between where you are and the certainty of your desired outcome, and the lessons will happen in the middle. Create systems and habits that will support the outcomes you seek.
The Love of Fear Leads to Success
In the words of Michelle Poler, keynote speaker and immigrant from Venezuela, “the opposite of success is not failure. The opposite of success is comfort.”
I believe we can be truly successful when we learn how to engage, and fall in love with, our fears.
Brad Lea encourages you to “fear what will happen if you don’t try and stay the same.” Fear what would happen if you don’t take action. Fear stagnation, comfort, hesitation, procrastination, and inaction.
Fall in love with fear and use it to propel yourself to success.