Fear comes up frequently in my practice as well as in my day-to-day interactions with entrepreneurs and soon-to-be clients. The fear of uncertainty, the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of not having all the tools needed to reach the goal or start the business. We commonly feel that we are the only one facing our particular fear. We often think the ultra-successful entrepreneurs and people we admire don’t struggle with fear. However, when it comes to fears, we have all had them, felt them and known them intimately.
Fear is typically the second emotion (after excitement) that one experiences once a goal or dream has started to develop and shape in your mind. It commonly feels heavy, scary and it can be very physical. Fear can either stop you cold in your tracks or propel you faster than you expect. Fear is one of the single best motivators but can also be one of the worst.
I’ve heard of the most successful entrepreneurs being fueled by the fear of death or the fear of death coming sooner than they expected. They feel this overwhelming need and drive to accomplish big things because they know life is short and finite and they fear not having enough time to accomplish all they want to. Working out of fear doesn’t necessarily generate success either. The motivation and purpose behind the goal are really important too. We can’t get rid of fear entirely and completely, nor should we want to.
Fear is necessary. It is a vital part of our survival. I don’t believe in an absence of fear, we can’t just get rid of it. If we had no fear, we would walk right into dangerous situations all the time. Having no fear would often get us into some really stupid and unnecessary situations. All animals (including humans) have fight or flight reactions hardwired into us. It is a physiological stress response. We need it, and sometimes it’s good for you.
Fear is one of those things that you can use as an identifier to judge whether you are on the right track or not. Often when fear comes up right after a goal or ambition has been set. I know fear is the first test of how badly I really want the end result. Fear tests motivation. If I’m not willing to grow and stretch in the process of moving through the fear or the growth process, it is unlikely that the goal is a worthy endeavor — worthy of my energy, time and focus.
Fear is the barometer telling you what you need to do. The only way to counteract the fear you feel; whichever fear you have, is through action. We have all heard the term/quote “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Because that particular phrase is truth. If I fear heights, the only way to get used to or better at dealing with heights is by putting myself in enough situations where I confront heights; skydiving anyone? Confront the fear enough and it becomes easier, quite possibly even fun.
The fear in combination with the action is the one recipe for success that is the same for everyone. Everyone feels it, we just have different ways it manifests itself in our lives, businesses, and dreams. The one thing that makes us different is whether or not we let it paralyze us or move forward with it — acting on it, trying and doing more of the exact thing that we fear.
When I am confronted by a fear that is attached to a goal that I really want to reach, I know the fear is telling me to move forward. The more we move forward into our fears through action, the stronger, faster and more masterful we become. The action gets easier over time and stops being a fear altogether, transforming into success.
The reason why I picked the quote to start this blog is because in a lot of ways fear can help create mastery. Mastery is for the few who make a regular practice of pushing through and doing more of what scares us or stops us. I challenge myself to act on one fear or scary action a day. That way, I ensure growth and mastery in my life. I attempt to tackle and act on the one task I want to put off most, first.
Action can look different for all of us. We don’t all need to skydive or start publicly speaking to reach our goals, but some of us might. Action may look like hiring a coach to help you take strategic action. Action may also look like calling someone you thought was unreachable. It may also look like leaving a dead end job so you can start a thriving career. The action needed to accomplish your goals and dreams are as different for each of us as the fears we feel. All that is required is that we act on it.
Here is my final tip; if you fear not knowing or having all that you need to reach your goal — be it starting a business, getting a new client or starting a new relationship — all you really need to start is to know your very first step. You don’t need, to begin with, the entire plan of action. Just identify your very next step to take and then making plans to act on it. That’s all that’s needed.
However big or small, what do you fear in regards to your goals. What would make a major impact on your life if you just acted on the fear?
Share it with us in the comments and tell us what you plan to do as the action required to move through it. If you are feeling really bold, tell us when you plan to act on the one very next step. Put a deadline on it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?