By Jaime Tardy
Everyone has had fear. It’s human nature to be fearful of a tiger. But why does it tend to get in our way in business so much? I’ve had the chance to ask millionaires and experts about their fear and how they pushed past it. Google defines fear as:
“An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Fear is just an unpleasant emotion. That’s it! There are a ton of other unpleasant emotions, but for some reason this one can stop us from really becoming what we want to in life. It stops us before we start. If you want to have an amazing 2012 and beyond you need to find a way to fight your fear. Below are action items for you to do to get past the fear you have in your business. Choose at least one today to fight your fear.
You Don’t Have to Be Fearless
Earlier this year I was able to ask Seth Godin a question about fear. I asked:
“Do you use excuses because of fear? How do you recognize them and get past them?”
“Oh yeah, all the time. And the fact is, in our highly-leveraged world, where anyone can write a book on Tuesday and publish it on Wednesday, if I wasn’t using excuses I’d be a master of myself and would be producing tons of stuff. I ask myself, ‘What’s important enough to be afraid for?’ In those areas I’ll strip away the excuses. I’ll focus so much energy to do the things that I think are important enough. And in other areas of my life I will succumb. No one is Clark Kent and fearless. You don’t have to be Clark Kent to do what you want to achieve.”
You don’t need to be fearless! You just need to overcome it just enough to take action in spite of it. Millionaire Frank McKinney, who calls himself a real estate daredevil and creates $30 million dollar dream homes, said this about fear:
“The first emotional reaction to the thought of undertaking a risk is fear. So we’re afraid. That’s normal. That’s natural. Then we go and do our homework with that fear firmly embedded in the back of our minds, and as we’re researching, we are subconsciously looking for a way to say no. Realize that. Don’t let it happen. Realize there is a force at work subconsciously in your mind that is tempting you to say no. That’s the primary difference between my career and most others, especially in real estate, that I don’t let the fear that is there stop me. I’m afraid every day of my life. I admit it–I’m like an alcoholic that admits he’s an alcoholic. I admit I have fear every day, but I don’t let it stop me. That is the primary difference.”
Over and over again I hear it. You don’t need to be fearless! Frank also says you should exercise your risk like a muscle, and I think you can do the same thing with fear. Once you start to face it using the techniques below, you will get better and better at facing it.
Recognize the Fear
Before you can get past that fear, the first thing you need to do is recognize it. It’s very easy to ignore fear. Have you ever started thinking about public speaking and then automatically thought about something else? It’s as if it’s a hot oven and we can’t even get close enough to touch it! If you have tried to recognize it yourself and can’t seem to make your head go there, ask a friend for help. Ask them to pay attention and see if they can figure out what fear you have, in general conversation or when they are asking you questions about it specifically. Getting to the root of that fear–and realizing it is there–is the first step!
Putting Your Fear in Perspective
One millionaire said their mentor shared a story to put fear in perspective. He told the story of a woman who had her children kidnapped, and the kidnappers were going to kill her children. Now that is true fear. Most of the time in business we fear things that might come true. Or we have fear because we need to step out of our comfort zone and risk something. But that is not TRUE fear. True fear is life or death. So the next time you are feeling fear, replace it with feeling grateful that you don’t have a life or death situation. Your business risk is not life threatening for you or those you love. Bankruptcy is not life threatening. I’ve interviewed millionaires that lost it all and came back to succeed. Another thing I love to do to put fear in perspective is to look at this: http://scaleofuniverse.com/ There you can compare the size of you to the size of the universe. How big are your fears now?
Action Item: Put Fear in Perspective
The next time you feel that fear, put it in perspective in your mind. Imagine how small your issue truly is in the world. It seems big to you right now, but it’s not as big as you think.
Lean on Your Mentors
Another great tip I’ve heard from many millionaires is to find a mentor. Mentors have been where you are and faced the fear you are facing. It’s easier to get past it with their support, and expertise. Armando Montelongo, host of Flip this House on A&E, said:
“To say that I did not have fear would be an inaccuracy. To say that I have doubt would be a lie, right? I had total fear. I had total disappointment in my life prior to that and I had feelings of anxiousness. I had the question, Can I really do this? Can this really happen? Is this pie in the sky? But I looked to my mentors for advice and started doing exactly what they told me. It helped me to almost immediately overcome the fear. I did have doubt but I listened to what they said.”
Armando had a belief in his mentors, that they knew how to get past it, and therefore he was able to get over his fear quickly.
Action Item: Lean on Your Mentors
If you already have a mentor, be honest with them about your fear. They have probably heard it before. It might feel a little vulnerable at first, but that is a good thing. If you don’t have a mentor yet, find one! You don’t have to pay for one either. I interviewed Derek Sivers and he gave me a step-by-step plan on how to find a mentor. Plus most of my mentors (even millionaire mentors) I have found for free.
Taking Action with the Fear
It’s not the fear that is the problem; it’s the inactivity that is. So focus on just taking whatever action you need to take in spite of the fear. The inaction will end up costing you a lot more in the long run than the “safety” you received from not doing it. Ren Carlton said:
“Fear is a very expensive trait to have. It’s a dangerous emotion to deal with and you have to put it aside. If you don’t, it will kill you. Inactivity is the worst thing you can do in the business world. You have to be out there mixing it up.”
Ren admits that he has had fear too. It’s not about the fear. It’s about doing whatever it takes to move past it. Here are a few actions you can take to get past the fear RIGHT NOW:
Action Item: Commit in Advance
One technique to use to get past your fear is to make it feel farther away. For example, let’s say you know public speaking could be really great for your business but you are scared. One thing you have always wanted to try was a webinar, but you don’t know how and you don’t want to look like a fool. Look at your calendar and pick a date that seems like a far away date. It might be a month for you or even three months. Something that makes it seem so far away you might not pay attention to it. Then tell a few people. It’s far enough away that it doesn’t seem that scary. But once you commit to it and tell others you will feel obligated to do it. You don’t want to look like a fool if you don’t do it! So you do it anyway, even with the fear. (I’ve used this before myself and with clients and let me tell you, it works!)
Action Item: Logically Counteract It
Another action item you can try is to logically counteract the fear. Imagine you are listening to a great friend of yours talk about their fear. What would you say to them? I like to do this exercise on paper so I can really get an idea of what will logically counteract it. Ask questions like, “What is the worst that could happen?” or “What would your contingency plan be if that happens?” Then immediately following this exercise take the first step towards the fear. Your brain will be in a better place to take that first step. You aren’t going to be perfect in this. And that is OK! But choose one of these action items to start moving past the fear in your business. Your bottom line will thank you! Which one did you choose? Tell me below what you are committing to doing!
Jaime is a business coach and speaker and has been featured on CNN, MSNMoney, Success Magazine, Fortune.com, Yahoo’s homepage and more. Each week she interviews self-made millionaires for their business tips, advice and stories. You can sign up for the Top 10 Tips from millionaires or check out over 50 of the free self-made millionaire interviews.