Mentor Tips – How to overcome fear
Fear is a common shackle holding many of us back from success, and we thought in lieu of the upcoming Professional Development Forum’s event on the topic, we would share some tips as well.
In his book “Long Walk to Freedom”, South Africa’s iconic revolutionary and subsequent president, Nelson Mandela, wrote, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Achieving big goals usually requires you to do something you are afraid to do. Or think you can’t do. To get something you’ve never had, you usually need to do something you’ve never done – which is usually accompanied by fear.
And this fear whether it be fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of pain , fear of financial instability — can paralyze you. If you are looking to achieve your goals, consider these ways to overcome fear and help you achieve the success you strive for:
Understand fear and embrace it
Fear exists to keep us safe. It is not inherently bad or good but a tool we can use to make better decisions. Fear isn’t designed to keep us inactive, but to help us act in ways that generate the results we need and want. Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them.
Become Familiar With Discomfort
Living outside of one’s comfort zone is by definition uncomfortable. Therefore, the best habit you can foster within yourself is the practice of becoming familiar with discomfort. A great way to do this is to pick one thing each day that scares you and go and do it. You are scared and you act. After a while you will be amazed at how what once scared you is now commonplace.
“Your comfort zone has a forcefield around it that protects you from failure. Often times it’s disguised as Netflix and a comfortable sofa.” Unknown
Remind yourself of a time you did a scary thing
You have probably done some scary things in your life. Think about one or two of them. What were you afraid would happen? Try to really remember what you were worried about in the hours, days or weeks leading up. What actually happened? What was the outcome? It’s good to think of scary things that included something uncomfortable or even painful. Running a marathon or giving birth come to mind. The “scary thing” in both of those is usually physical pain. And certainly most marathoners and moms will tell you they experienced pain. But they also survived. Spend time contemplating the leaps you’ve taken, the pain (physical and emotional) that you were able to handle, and the rewards that came as a result.
Name the fear
Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks.
Think long term
If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution.
We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than speculation – however:
You don’t have to know it all
You will never know everything. And you will learn the fastest in the process of getting something done. Remember mistakes and setbacks are normal in life, and can become learning opportunities.
Prepare, practice, role play
The long standing top fear is public speaking. In many surveys, death ranks second place to standing in front of a group and speaking! If your fear is related to your performance or a specific task, then prepare, practice, and role play.
Find your cheerleaders
Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want.
Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. The same practice will prepare you to succeed at whatever you’re trying to achieve. Visualize what a successful outcome looks like. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What does success feel like? Create that powerful image each time you feel fear stepping out of your safe zone.
Gain a sense of proportion
How big of a deal, really, is the thing you’re afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in with everything else we value. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes the reality is bad, but often you might find that the fear itself is worse than whatever it is you’re afraid of happening.
Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Why not find a mentor? Athletes have coaches. Students have teachers. Sometimes friends, even if they have no expertise in the area you’re struggling with, can provide the needed support to face your fear. Ask them how they got through their fear of stepping outside of their comfort zone. Not only will this collaboration give you a shoulder to lean on, but you will also learn new tricks of the trade on how to take the risk.
Have a positive attitude
Ask yourself “What would you do differently if you were absolutely guaranteed of success in any undertaking?” Would you try more things? Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up.
Don’t let fear dictate the outcomes of your life. When I started MentorSelector – the fear of failure was at the forefront of my mind (amongst other fears) – but I always recall a favorite quote of mine by Jim Carrey – “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
If you have any tips on how to overcome fear, please share or leave a comment below. And for those people Sydney based, why not attend the Professional Development Forum’s next event Monday 19th March about how to overcome fear – by Daniel Merza, a resilience expert. For more details about PDF and the upcoming event click here.