It’s midnight. The night is cold and damp. A wet drizzle is coming down as your windshield wipers slide back and forth, clearing your view as you make your way down an unfamiliar road in an unknown area of town—an area you would prefer not to be driving through in the darkness of this night. You hear a thump. Your vehicle makes a slight swerve and starts to hobble down the road—a flat tire? You pull over angrily and get out to assess the damage. As you stand staring down at the flat tire, something gets your attention. You notice three figures appear out of the shadows. Talking in a low hush, they stand and watch you, then momentarily start to walk toward you. Your heart starts to pound, your breathing quickens, and as your instincts kick in, you’re thinking the worst. Do you run or dig in? As they get closer, the fear builds up inside. Not quite knowing what to do, you’re prepared to act. Approaching you, one of the three asks, “Do you need any help?”
“No thanks, I have it,” you respond, as they walk past and move on down the empty, darkened street.
Fight or Flight?
What just took place was fear in its purest form. Unfounded but instinctive to all mankind, it is known as the “the fight or flight response,” and is an internal survival reaction common to all animals. Caused by a chain reaction in the brain that starts with an unfamiliar, unknown, stressful situation, this response to fear completes with the release of chemicals that force a racing of the heart; increased, uncontrolled breathing; and a tightening of the muscles.
Danger Real or Imagined
Now, let’s have the same scenario in your own neighborhood; this time, three of your friends walk down the street to help you. What is the difference? Well, first, you know your neighbors and the neighborhood. But the real issue is your brain knows what to expect, and your brain does not draw any conclusions about something fearful happening if it senses no danger. In the first situation, there really was no danger; but because of the unknown, your mind started to manufacture situations that were dangerous, based on past realities. Although fear is part of human nature, many fears are learned from birth and are nurtured as we grow. Remember that anything learned can, in fact, be unlearned. Why do I start out this book discussing fear? Perhaps you are in that ten to fifteen percent group of people who have already figured out their fears and no longer struggle with this issue. If you are, congratulations and keep up the great work. This discussion is primarily aimed at those
eighty-five to ninety percent of us who are still working through fears and challenges. I have certainly had my
share of fears to overcome in life. Let’s talk about how to overcome fear and free ourselves
1. Take small steps
Sometimes when fear seems overwhelming, taking small steps “toward the fear” can help greatly. An example is cold calling on the telephone. Calling to set an appointment can be paralyzing. A suggestion is, prior to trying to set an appointment, call and do a survey with your prospect before asking for an appointment. It doesn’t have to be a long survey: maybe only five questions that will help you gather information. So when you do call back to ask for the appointment, you will have information to discuss. Perhaps your great fear is giving presentations at work; it makes you physically ill. Try making small comments in meetings and working your way up to full presentations. This doesn’t just apply to business situations. Whatever task you’re afraid of can be broken down into smaller steps.
2. Get positive inspiration daily
Looking for small inspirational messages that you can review daily along with your goals (we’ll discuss goals in Chapter Six) can help you to stay focused on the prize and not the price. Listening to motivational CDs or webinars, reading a short passage from an inspirational book, or reviewing your life goals daily can inspire you to action. Lastly, take a few minutes in the morning to write down what you will gain by attacking your fears and overcoming them. If we can reframe our view of failure and look at setbacks differently, we can unshackle our lives and open up vast opportunities for ourselves.
3. Look at failure or rejection in a different light
There is a lot of truth to the saying that every “no” brings you that much closer to a “yes.” I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and a purpose that serves us. If we failed in a business or a relationship, we could say “I’m a failure,” or we could say, “This just wasn’t the right business or person for me.” The power of how we choose to look at things has such a great bearing on our lives and our futures. Once, when my son was playing Little League Baseball, there were two outs. His team was down by one run and the bases were loaded. To the devastation of his overzealous father, he struck out. I went over to console him and said something to the effect of “don’t feel bad because you struck out and you were the last batter, Son.” He said, “I wasn’t the last batter. There were guys behind me; they just didn’t get a chance to bat.” It’s all in your perspective.
4. Live for the moment
Try not to allow yourself to get trapped in what has been or might be. Even though we may have had setbacks in the past, we must not allow our minds to feel the problems of the past will be the reality of the future. If you have strong goals and dreams, and you live for the moment, stay positive, and anticipate success, you will achieve it.
5. Be willing to accept change in your life
I talked about the fear of change in Chapter One. Now here is the great paradox: to overcome fear we must incorporate one of our fears into the steps it takes to actually move forward. Let me explain. Fear of success is real and comes from our fear of having to leave what we know, good or bad. None of us like to change. In fact, it is possibly one of the hardest things we do in our lives. Think of someone in a bad relationship or maybe a bad job. Why don’t they just leave? It’s not easy, that’s why. The physical act of leaving is not nearly as difficult as the emotional challenges of leaving. Once you are willing to change, you must be patient. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Take small steps and be patient.
6. Focus on what you want out of life
Ask yourself why you are doing this. If you know what you want out of life and understand what you must do to get there, then all that needs to be done is to stay focused on the task at hand.
7. Find out what good can be done for others, and do it
We need to understand that when we are successful, the impact that we can have on others can be immeasurable. With success comes the opportunity to help others, mentor those trying to succeed, and impact younger individuals as they try to discover their treasure. By taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on helping others, our fears fade and disappear.
8. Take action
Action can help overcome fear. When your dreams are bigger than your fears, you can do anything. Set goals, review them, and keep them in front of you. Take action and never give up.
There is a deep correlation between worry and fear. I would like to take the time in this chapter to discuss this correlation. Worry can very easily turn into fear and eventually be that “one thing” that destroys your success in life. Remember from earlier that fear is caused by an internal reaction to perceived or real danger.
So what is worry? I will talk about this later this week check back in on this blog for more.