Go on… what’s stopping you? Scare yourself. Go ahead and pursue that big client. Ask for a raise. Speak up the next time you disagree with someone. Call that person you met in the elevator. Start that degree you’ve been talking about for a decade. Audition for the part. You fill in the blank.
Are you afraid? If so, congratulations! You’ve just identified the pool you need to dive into in order to take your life up a notch. If you pass, however, claiming the water’s too cold or you just don’t feel like swimming today, the fear wins. And you lose.
“Fear stands between you and your ability to go anywhere you like, do anything you want, and meet anyone you please,” writes Rhonda Britten, author of several books on fear, including Fearless Living and Fearless Loving.
When we face fear, when we act in spite of the fear, we grow. As we expand, we push through our perceived limitations, out far beyond our comfort zone. We embrace freedom and become unstoppable forces in our own lives. And it feels sooooo good!
Making Fear Our Ally
As Britten notes, fear is the gatekeeper of our comfort zone. But we can make it our ally by using fear as a compass needle. Wherever the needle points—whenever fear raises its head and says, “Gulp!”—that’s where we need to go.
“Instead of causing you to shy away from situations that could result in the sting of failure,” Britten writes, “the fear gives you the impetus to take on new challenges.”
Britten’s books and Susan Jeffers’ classic Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway both offer plentiful suggestions for ways to get at and work through the fears that keep our lives limited.
Doing Scary Things Intentionally
Consider making it a practice to scare yourself and do at least one scary thing every day. Doing so begins to exercise a muscle that’s been atrophied for too long. Each and every time you take action rather than avoid it, you strengthen the muscle – building self-confidence, self-reliance and self-trust. You begin to say “I can” more often than “I can’t.”
Interestingly, when you scare yourself and take calculated risks of a physical nature, it can often produce noticeable growth in our ability to confront fear in the emotional realm. For example, to learn more about his fear of going into business for himself, Michael rappelled down a cliff, something that had terrified him.
Michael discovered that fear is most present in the thinking about the event—not in the actual doing. When he thought of the future, a host of “what ifs” crowded his brain and kept him worried. But when he was actually rappelling, he was 100% focused on his task. Only when he let his thoughts wander from the present moment did the fear intrude.
Now, when he finds himself fretting about his future as a self-employed person, Michael focuses his complete attention on the task at hand and not the “what ifs.”
As Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely remarked: “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”
If you are contemplating making a professional leap where you need some support, email me and we’ll discuss options for coaching that can support you.
Ann Potts is President of Executive Performance Fuel, LLC, a premier resource for personal branding, training and leadership development. Ann works with individuals and companies who are growth-oriented and committed to ongoing development. If you’d like to explore working with Ann, send an email to set up a consultation to discuss what support you may need. Also, feel free to connect with Ann on Twitter (@CoachAnnPotts), on her Facebook business page or Linked In.
Author’s content used under license, ©Claire Communications