Look at this list of fears. How many of them grip you?
Be sure to read the FEAR acronym later in this post; it’s not the “False Evidence Appearing Real” one—but that’s good too. Read on and learn how to combat fear.
- Fear of public speaking
- Fear of starting a business
- Fear of being seen for who I really am
- Fear of intimacy or closeness
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of making cold calls
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of change
- Fear of abandonment
- Fear of relationships
- Fear of failure
- Fear of spiders
- Fear of success
- Fear of big words
- Fear of death
- Fear of loneliness
- Fear of flying
- Fear of snakes
- Fear of people
- Fear of a secret being revealed
- Fear of risk
- Fear of looking stupid
- Fear of looking smart
The point of this partial list of fears is that fear exists.
Fear itself can be very real and dangerous.
When it comes to some fear, it is often simply a (mis)perception of reality. Fear is a normal and healthy part of life. Yes, healthy! For every fear I have, there is someone who isn’t phased in the least by the same fear. What is the difference?
Overcoming fear is a process, not necessarily an event.
It may require ongoing, progressive exposures or opportunities to face it. Here’s my quick acronym for overcoming fear.
- F = Face it. You have a choice: flee fear or face fear. If you flee from fear, you are guaranteed a loss. If you face your fear, then you have a chance to grow and learn—a winning outcome.
- E = Enter in. Having faced your fear, now take the first step toward what frightens you. And then take one more step beyond where you are comfortable. More, if possible.
- A = Assess progress. What did you learn about your phobia, yourself, your perspective, your preconceived notions, your attitude, your experience, and whatever else you can glean as a positive step in growth? Even a setback holds a lesson, but you need to go into it with the understanding that it is an experiment in learning and growth.
- R = Recalibrate. Picture your fear on a scale from 1–10. As a result of Face–Enter–Assess, what measurable—if any—improvement, growth, or learning have you experienced? Now, go back and recalibrate your fear scale.
What are your specific benefits of playing it safe rather than facing your fears?
Fear will keep you from being on-purpose. Follow the FEAR Approach and keep making progress … on-purpose.
Step 1: Face It: A Simple How-to Guide to Combat Fear
In FIT 4 Leading, the “F” in FIT stands for Fear. Fear is but one of the four greatest obstacles to success faced by leaders. Several years ago, I conducted a study of small business and solo owners. Over 22% of the respondents indicated that fear is their greatest obstacle to success. So you’re not alone in your fears, but this is one place where you don’t want comfort in numbers.
Fear is an educator when we’re willing to lean into it and allow it to teach us. One strategy I suggest to help you overcome your fear(s) is the use of a coach or mentor. They come to your fear with a different experience and set of senses.
A coach can help you:
- Break down what’s really going on within your fear and pinpoint a more precise “definition” of your fear.
- Help you to see and quantify where and what your fear is costing you.
- Devise strategies and a plan for facing your fear in small manageable steps.
- Provide accountability to see that you follow through on your plan.
- Process your experiences of facing your fears and lessons to be learned.
Fear is an enemy of the soul and success.
Like any enemy, it can be identified, named, and defeated. But make no mistake that you’re going into combat and you want to be armed and not alone. Fear, however bad it may seem, points the way to personal growth and development.
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933
To lead is difficult when you’re a follower of fear.
Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.
FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.
If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all thinking, damages his personality and makes him a landlord to a ghost.