Fear in different degrees is something everyone deals with every day, and it's our ability to recognize and face our fears that allows us to grow and move forward. Whether it is the youngster leaving Mom for the first day of Kindergarten or deciding to climb on that two-wheel bike one more time, growth and accomplishment come with the courage to take the next uncomfortable step. What about the decision to go to college and declare a major, start a new job, sign a mortgage on a house, commit to a lifelong relationship, start a business, make decisions as a single parent, care for elderly parents, face sickness and tragedy. . . .
You get the idea. Life is all about facing uncertainty with courage, that quality of heart and mind that pushes us beyond our fears. As Emerson said, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear." It's actually exciting and inspiring to think about every person we know finding courage every single day to do something beyond what he or she had done the day before. Winning and growing is all about risking defeat and getting comfortable with the discomfort. We all have courage along with the need to be even more courageous in the future, as we go beyond our fears to our own personal success and happiness.
Using Fear to Get It Done
All of us have been placed into uncomfortable situations where we doubt our ability to succeed or fear our possible performance. Some form of fear, in fact, comes every time we enter unfamiliar territory and if we are growing, achieving individuals, that healthy twinge of fear can become a familiar driving force behind each new challenge or adventure in life.
From the daunting task of learning to ride a bicycle at the age of four to performing in the school play to interviewing for a new position at work or learning to speak in front of a group of people, we always benefit from becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable and doing the things that we feared we couldn't do. The above list could have included hundreds of various examples of things that have moved us from where we were to where we are today and each one has special significance for what it meant to us at that given point in time. Growth comes when we do something we have never done before, when we go to places we've never been or, especially, when we do something we thought we could never do.
I spoke with a client recently who had begun a health regimen and body cleansing program and his comment to me was, "If you would have talked to me two weeks ago, I would never have imagined I could ever feel this good!"
I challenge you to identify the things you might be avoiding that you could be great at. Is fear keeping you from a new position of responsibility at work, from a new relationship, from losing weight or stopping smoking, from trying a new sport or heading a committee? The success secret of all the people we sit back and look at as the ones that "can do anything" is this . . . THEY ARE SIMPLY DOING IT! Recognize fear as a good thing that every individual experiences over, and over again, and then open your mind to your own limitless possibilities. The fear that paralyzes our actions is the same emotion that can propel us to great new accomplishments and power over ourselves. Do the things you think you cannot do and enjoy the victory!
Five Truths About Fear
From Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers Ph.D.
- The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
- The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out . . . and do it.
- The only way to feel better about myself is to go out . . . and do it.
- Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I'm on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
- Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
The Vocabulary of Fear
Dr. Robert Maurer, author One Small Step Can Change Your Life and a new book titled Mastering Fear, has done extensive research on fear and its effects on every area of our lives. He claims that many of us today use words like "stress, anxiety, depression," or "nerves" to describe a strong, persistent feeling of upset in our bodies, where it more accurately can be identified as fear. He found that highly successful people consistently refer to the necessity of managing fear as a key to that success. Below is a short excerpt to begin to explain his thoughts on fear and we will be doing a complete newsletter feature soon on the incredible insights in this book.
Throughout my research I have been especially intrigued by how rarely highly successful people use these words to describe the uncomfortable feelings typically associated with stress. As I watched interview after interview of incredibly successful people talking about their lives, I noticed that they consistently used different words to capture the experience. They all used the word fear or one of its synonyms (afraid, scared, etc. ) to describe the physiological responses we all share.
At first it seemed a simple matter of semantics, possibly not worth further investigation. However, after a while, the frequency of so many successful people using the words "fear" or "scared" was hard to ignore. For example, consider the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, president of the hugely successful film production company Pixar. The story of the history, evolution, and processes used by this magical studio--creator of epic animated movies such as Toy Story , Finding Nemo , and Monsters, Inc.-- is inspiring to read. Most interesting to me, however, is that in the book Catmull used the word "anxiety " once and "stress " once, but used "fear " or "scared " 78 times! "If we aren't at least a little scared, " he wrote, "we are not doing our job. "