Do you quiver or act? 4 steps to using fear wisely.
Fear comes in many forms. It can be linked to something that threatens or frightens us. It can come from something that makes us feel vulnerable or insecure – whether it’s the dark, heights, going to the hospital or entering the Board room.
It can be driven by the thought of unknown consequences, lack of control, the inability to rise to our challenges or our intuition. It can be an impulsive response or the simple logic of ‘I should be afraid of this because…’ It can keep us focused on the past and worried about the future.
So the real question should not be how we avoid fear but rather what should we do with it?
Few people wake up wanting to make systems collapse, cause chaos and harm to people or disrupt the potential to create positive change. But these things happen all too regularly, usually caused by a string of actions initially triggered by fear. As a result we won’t do things, will do the wrong things and assume things. We become paralysed and some of us behave badly too. Ouch – but it’s true and I see it a lot.
Don’t run from it or let it stop you in your tracks – use it.
‘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
- Face it
- Embrace it,
- Accept it,
- Reflect on it?
F: Face your fear. Understanding and admitting what you’re frightened of will help you find the causes and allow you to do something about it.
E: Embrace your fear and understand it. Think – OK – if I understand this I can work with it and do something about it. What do you have to focus on in order to move beyond your current position, whether professional, psychological or emotional. It will also help you accept your past fears, the things you did, the decisions that you made and then break the cycle.
A: Accept your fear and act – don’t quiver.
Maybe what it should tell us is to do something.
- Leave denial behind and consciously accept the situation
- Plan and get on with that ‘difficult thing’
- Reflect on our actions and others’ too – how should you behave and what should you do
- Share it and others will do the same – the result will be greater connection, honesty, trust and ultimately progress.
R: Reflect on it. Think carefully about ‘what you did’ when something frightened you. Ask yourself whether it’s possible that your actions, motivated by fear, triggered another set of events that increased your anxiety even further or had a negative impact on you, your behaviour and others too. Learn from it. Fear is in our gut and there is power and learning to be had.
Choose courage over fear
Many careers and lives are ruined by fear and not facing or sharing it. The alternative is to be courageous – our greatest superheroes face fear head on.
The world’s heroes Ghandi, Mandela and many others faced fear with humility and the world followed them.
Whatever the battle or challenge – if there’s one thing that life has taught me (and the rest of SK) it’s that fear is one of life’s greatest invisible disrupters – ‘social treacle’ that makes life to tough to wade through. We see systems and progress paralysed by fear, poor decision making, a lack of cooperation, miserable people and bad behaviours too. No one wins and no one is happier as a result.
I’m a strong believer in facing your fears and helping others faces theirs too. The rewards for your courage will be trust, connection and confidence – the foundation and ‘social rocket fuel’ for success.