Now, I don’t mean to imply that fear isn’t real. It is. What I want to focus on in this article are those times when we are afraid to do something and as a result don’t do anything; not what we might be afraid of: a recent diagnosis, the dark, etc.
Recently I read that some psychologists refer to most of our FEARs as Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real. That’s all. Fantasized Experiences. We get ourselves all worked up over imagining negative outcomes before even trying some new activity or experience. If we’ve never tried it, then how could we accurately predict what the results would be?
I love this quote by author, Mark Twain: “I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened.”
That is so true for each of us! Almost all of our fears are self-created and never materialize. Mere fantasy. Once we gut it up and finally take the first few steps toward a new experience, we usually realize we had nothing to be afraid of. Many of us even say things like, ‘I wish I would have done that sooner!’; or, ‘That wasn’t so bad after all!’
Back in the day of the cave man fear was a natural way for our body to alert us to the possibility of danger and give us the boost of energy we needed to run away from large scary man-eating animals. Today, luckily, we really don’t encounter many life-threatening circumstances. Fear now serves as our signal to remain alert and cautious. Fear triggers and heightens our awareness level, bringing us greater clarity. Once we embrace that the purpose of fear is to guide us, we can channel it and use it to our advantage and as a result, gain confidence.
Spend a few minutes thinking about all the times in your life that you were afraid to do something, and make a quick list of those things. Then, write down what you imagined would happen when you did them. This is usually where people start chuckling to themselves. Next, write down what actually happened. Isn’t it amazing how many times we allow fear and negative self speak to make us downright scared only to discover that our fear was unnecessary?
If you were to ask any successful person about the fears they’ve faced, it’s likely that
each would admit to feeling fears at many points along their path to success. The difference for them is that early on they learned to acknowledge when they felt fear, and they embraced fear as being both natural and a necessary part of their growth. They continued moving forward through the fear and learned that most of their fears were a waste of their time and energy. So, now when they feel fear they barely skip a beat.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy
The other major point of difference for those who are successful is that they realize that achieving growth and many of the ‘good things in life’ requires taking risks. They don’t allow themselves to become paralyzed by fear. If they did, they would never achieve their dreams. Sure, some of them took risks that didn’t work out as planned. I met with a business owner last week and he shared that he made a huge mistake once that cost him $500,000. That almost wiped him out. He was scared to death. But because he had also realized many other successes he knew he would succeed again. So, off he went on another business adventure and now he’s more successful than he ever imagined possible.
Stories of people realizing amazing successes after they’ve experienced nearly catastrophic failures are endless. We all need to take our cues from them and turn off the crazy tape we allow to play over and over again in our heads that tells us to be afraid, they won’t choose me, etc. It’s all garbage so throw it out. Believe in yourself. Make your move toward realizing your dream. Keep moving even when you feel doubt, experience setbacks and encounter rejection. Use those experiences as reminders to get going. Each obstacle you overcome teaches you something, makes you stronger and gets you closer to where you want to be.
So pick up the phone, make that call you’ve been putting off. Go to that networking event and meet new people. Go get that degree you’ve been wanting for years. Take your next step, whatever it is, no matter your age.
Don’t settle for being good when you can take a chance or two and become great. Feel the fear, embrace it as normal, know you’ll learn from it and take the first step through it. Don’t let fear hold you back. Later, when reflecting on your accomplishments you’ll be smiling, maybe even laughing out loud. Here’s to your continued growth and success.