Dec 17, 2008

- Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Fears come in many different shapes and sizes.  There are extreme fears (or phobias), fears about your future (worry), and fears from stepping out of your comfort zone.   
Fear is a natural part of life.  Success comes when you move beyond fear. It is not that you won’t feel the fear, but you will feel the fear and do it anyway.
What are you afraid of?  You may have fears in each of the categories above.  This article will focus on the fear of trying something new or doing something that might cause rejection.  This might be the fear of starting a new business, of making a sales call, or of making a speech.  This is the fear you fear when you ask someone out on a date or when you need to make a presentation in front of an unfamiliar group of people. We all carry many fears in this category.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
- Rosa Parks
You may have heard that FEAR can be considered an acronym for False Expectations Appearing Real.  It is not that the fear is false, but that the expectations that are false.  One result is that fear can cause a paralysis of procrastination.  As we are afraid of something we are procrastinate and find other things to do.  This is the wrong approach.  Instead of being paralyzed by fear we should run towards the fear.  Feel the fear of something and do it anyway.
This summer, I had the privilege of attending the Olympic Games in Beijing.  I went with an organization that works with athletes, and had the goal of networking and meeting lots of athletes.  Doing this meant overcoming significant fear. It is easy to think that successful athletes won’t want to talk to you, or that they are too busy.  You can build up a lot of reasons in your mind why you should not approach an athlete.  Of course these are generally all false expectations.  Athletes are normal people and generally are excited to meet people.  This is especially true at the Olympics where the international camaraderie is extremely high.  Approaching an athlete didn’t happen without fear.  I would feel the fear and do it anyways. Of course my fears (false expectations) never did happen, and moving past the fear was very rewarding.
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
- H. Jackson Brown
One of the first opportunities to connect with an athlete this year happened on my flight to Beijing.  After getting on the flight I noticed an athlete come on.  Normally, I can identify athletes by the team clothing and credentials, but I didn’t need any of that for this particular athlete; I recognized her immediately.  She is a multiple medal winner from previous Olympics.  Naturally the fear of approaching someone so successful was high.  The false expectations appeared very real to me. In that situation I chose to act in spite of fear.  I used the time before take off to walk up to her seat and have a conversation.  It was a great conversation where I made a valuable contact; feel the fear and do it anyways.
Another place that people experience this sort of fear is in business prospecting.  Perhaps you are looking for a new customer or client, or searching for a business partner.  There can be significant fear in making the next contact.  This is a major reason why so many people fail in the sales related businesses.  They have fear of making the next call and that fear paralyzes them into procrastinating.
As mentioned earlier one of the main reasons that we face fear in our lives is because we all live in a comfort zone.  Your comfort zone includes those activities and events that you are comfortable with. It includes the friends you hang out with, the types of activities you do at your job and how you spend your free time. You become comfortable with what you do now.
“Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.”
- Cheri Huber
Unfortunately, if you stay in your comfort zone you will not grow and achieve anything more than you have now. Growth requires moving out of your comfort zone. The good news is when you move past fear and move out of your comfort zone your comfort zone will expand. Think about your first day on a new job.  You are likely nervous because you are not sure you can do everything required of you.  Perhaps you felt like the new job was above you.  Now, over time you likely became comfortable with the activities on your job.  Your comfort zone has expanded by doing the things you feared.
Chances are the things that you fear because they are outside of your comfort zone are the very things that you need to do to become more successful. Making the sales call to that potential customer that you are afraid of may be the very call that will grow your business.  Asking the girl you like out on a date might help you start a wonderful relationship.  Run towards the fear and you will move into a higher level of success.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Those people who most quickly move towards their fears and move past them will be the first to succeed.  What are you afraid of?  What are the false expectations in your life?  Identify them so that you know what to run towards.  Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to move towards the fear instead of away from it.


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