Imagine what the world would look like if some of the greatest achievers the world has ever known stopped doing their life work because of their fears:
- Martin Luther King Jr. felt completely inadequate and had bouts of anxiety when he was first asked to take on a leadership role within Civil Rights Movement
- Thomas Edison failed over one thousands before he succeeded in creating the light bulb.
- Nelson Mandela was constantly afraid for his life, for going to jail, and for letting everyone down, but this didn't stop him from fighting for the rights of equality
- Steve Jobs was afraid that all of his hard work and innovations would be obsolete in a few short years.
The beauty of being humans is that we all get scared. It doesn't matter who you are or how confident you look. Fear comes for us all equally.
But we all must realize that fear is the single biggest emotion holding us back from all the successes that we dream of accomplishing. It’s a big reason why many of us procrastinate when we should be working. It’s why many of us choose to stay in our comfort zone rather than jump on the opportunity to become or do something more with our career and lives.
There are two main types of fears: fear of failure and fear of success.
Fear of Failure:
- What if I don’t succeed or have the outcomes I desire?
- What if others laugh at me when they see me screw up?
- What if I lose everything I have now because I make a mistake?
- What if I forget what to say in the job interview or speech?
Fear of Success:
- What if I can’t repeat my successful performance in the future?
- What if being successful changes who I am?
- What if I don’t have the skills to be successful in the next role that I take on?
- What if I don’t deserve this success?
The first step to defeating your fear is to identify what you are truly afraid of. When you identify your fears you will start to realize how fear holds you back.
Here a great little exercise that you can do:
- Pick a specific area in your life where you believe fear is holding you back from accomplishing the goals you have set out for yourself.
- Write down your fears on a piece of paper and identify which of the fears are real and which of your fears are blown out of proportional.
- Remove the fears from your list that are false or just ridiculous.
- Take the time to acknowledge the real fears. See them for what they are, and be truly self-aware of them
Once you have increased your own self-awareness of your fears, immediately take the piece of paper and tear it up into pieces. This is a symbolic gesture that helps you feel empowerment.
Here are the fears that I face every time I create and release a new blog. At first this fear was so great that it almost stopped me from releasing my website at all.
- What will people say about me when they see my blogs?
- What if I write something that is stupid?
- What if I look like an idiot in front of the camera?
- How will it affect my career?
If you can defeat your fears and charge forward with your goals, ideas, and plans, you will be that much closer to realizing your full potential in life. I truly believe that failure is only a failure if you see it as a failure. If you can learn from your failures and come back stronger, than yours failures become life lessons.
Now it is time to give you real insight into how you can move past your fears.
1. Use the Power of Your Mind
Remind yourself that you have the power to control your own fears, if you choose to do so. Many people choose to run away from the fear rather than towards it and when you do this; your fears actually grow more powerful.
You can also choose to change your own belief system, if you believe you are going to fail, chances are you will end up failing. You need to believe that you will succeed.
At the end of the day, who actually cares if you fail? Most of the time the answer is only you.
2. Control your breathing
It’s amazing how in sync your body and mind are. You can actually put yourself in a fear state by simply breathing like you are afraid (Breathing fast and panicky) or hold your face in a scared position (Show your upper whites of the eyes , pull your mouth back, tense your lips, move your eyebrows in a straight position)
Whenever you feel a bit of anxiety creeping up on you, immediately check your breathing and start calming yourself down by following these steps:
- Take 3 deep belly breaths in. (Your chest shouldn't move up and down, instead it’s your stomach that moves out on an in-breath)
- On each in-breath, inhale for at least 4 seconds
- Now hold your breath for another 4 seconds
- Now release your breath taking around 8 seconds
If you use this method effectively, you will find that you are able to control your anxiety and slow down your thoughts.
3. Break the problem up into small manageable steps
Many times we are afraid because the task as hand is too large. We have no idea how we get from square one to completion. This is the exact situation I faced when I first set off to create my website. Things become much easier to manage if you break them up into small steps.
Having smaller manageable steps also allows you to celebrate wins more often. This is a great way to raise your confidence and showcase to yourself that you can and will succeed in what you set out to accomplish.
When building my website I broke the entire project into small milestones such as:
- What tools should I use to build my website?
- What are some sample websites that I liked that I could model my site after?
- What are some of the blogs I could write?
- Which type of pictures do I want to showcase in my website?
4. Visualize Success
Visualization is such a power tool to use. Our brains think in terms of images, so seeing yourself succeed is a great confidence booster.
- Use mental rehearsals to go deep into your fears, see yourself actually failing.
- What is the worst thing that can happen if you failed?
- Is it really that bad?
- Would anyone remember the failure in a few days?
- What lesson could you learn if you failed this way?
Now use visualization to start changing the outcome, from failure into success.
- How great does it feel to succeed?
- Can you feel the powerful emotions of success and happiness?
- Do you feel proud of yourself for getting past your fear?
- What new opportunities arise now?
5. “Fake it until you make it”
Act like you are not scared and charge directly towards your fears. You will find that “Action” cures fear. The greatest cure for fear is stepping closer to it and directly challenging it. If you run away from your fear you allow it to fester and grow within your mind.
Just to be clear, "Fake it until you make it" is not about being unauthentic or lying to people. It is meant to address your own internals fears. It is about acting in a way that your mind starts believing that the fear cannot take hold of you. Let me give you a couple of example when I used this particular tip.
1. One of the biggest fears that people have is presenting in front of large audience. I was not any different. Using this tip, I tricked myself into believing that the fear does not exist.
Here are some of the tricks I use:
- Power posing --> Getting your confidence up prior to the speech
- Music - To get my positive energy up.
- Visualizing success prior to the speaking event
When I get up on the stage, I tell myself that I am going to do great. I start “faking” like I am a great presenter. I start acting like the fear of presenting doesn’t exist.
2. Addressing the fear of socializing during networking events.
This is another challenge that many people face, especially introverted individuals. Before an event, I like to think back to when I was a young boy getting dressed to go out trick or treating. As a young boy, I would put on my costume and become someone else for a night.
Right before the networking event, I mentally prepare myself by “putting on a Halloween mask” so that I can start “acting” like a more outgoing person. I start thinking about smiling more, maintaining better body language, and mentally going through a list of questions I have prepared for the networking session.
I also gamify the event in my own mind by setting up personal challenges for myself such as:
- Introducing myself to someone new within the first 5 minutes of entering the room
- Introducing two strangers to one another
- Standing by the entrance doors and greeting people as if I was the host
6. Cherish the small wins
Reward and recognize yourself every time you take a step closer to defeating your fear. It doesn’t have to be a big recognition, just something small such as telling yourself that you are proud of what you have done.
7. Be relentless in the pursuit of your goals
Never take your eyes off the end game. Have absolute focus and determination that you will succeed and when you do succeed it will be amazing. Fear doesn't stand a chance if you maintain laser sharp focus on your end goals.
Don’t believe for one moment that the most successful people in the world don’t have the same fears as you and I. We are all humans, born to be afraid. However, those who reach the highest levels of achievement don’t let their fears hold them back. In fact, they run towards them!
I now use this fear to energize me, to push me forward, to challenge myself because deep down inside my fear shows up when I am stretch myself out of my comfort zone. And when I am in that zone of the unknown, this is when I grow the most as a human being.
I ask you all to NOT let fear hold you back from accomplishing your higher purpose! Do NOT let fear hold you back from accomplishing your dreams.
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