How to master your fear
These six steps will help you find greater success in life and business
(Editor's note: This is the first part of a series.)
Anxiety, stress, worry and frustration are emotions most of us experience at times in our lives. But did you know there’s a single underlying cause for all of these?
There is. Fear.
Many kinds of fears affect our heath and our ability to be our best under stress – to perform well under pressure. How does a salesperson step out of fear and step into confidence? How does an executive overcome fear and lead her team through challenges and create great success? How does a teenager deal with the fear of rejection and ask someone out on a date for the first time?
They master their fears.
Mastering fear doesn’t mean you don’t have fear. It means you know what fears you have, and you control your fears ― they don’t control you.
Executives, entrepreneurs, high-level sales professionals ― most everyone wants to be happy and successful. Mastering fear is requisite to attain these emotional states. In this “Master our Fear” series, you’ll learn how to: identify your fears; master them; and focus on getting past fear to attain what’s important to you.
When I started working with fears, I asked people to list all of their fears. As I looked at the unifying patterns, the big four fears emerged, encompassing about 90 percent of the fears experienced:
Fear of failure
Fear of success
Fear of rejection
Fear of selling
Most people have a fear of selling, and not just salespeople! Many people who sell on a daily basis aren’t selling a product; they’re individuals who have to pitch ideas or projects within their own company, to peers, a team or their boss. We also sell our ideas to our friends, spouses and children if we have them all the time.
I’ve developed six steps over the past 30 years that can help people master their fears in a short amount of time:
Identify your fear. We label fears with other adjectives and emotions, but to resolve it, you have to understand it as fear.
Embrace your fear. People tend to run from fear, which simply feeds fear with fear. Feeding a fear makes it bigger, uglier and stronger.
Dis-identify with fear. The fear is not you. You weren’t born with it. There are a few innate fears (fear of spiders, heights etc.), and those are in our DNA. All other fears arise from life experiences.
Identify the worst-case scenario. If you really take your worst case to its end point, it’s usually not as bad as you think.
Consider: What’s the probability of the worst case actually happening? In most circumstances it’s lower than we anticipate. With this step, if you identify the probability and it’s too high for your tolerance, you must work on something else so that the probability of your worst-case scenario is actually decreased.
For example: Say an entrepreneur changes a business strategy and releases all clients to try to obtain a new set of clients. If it doesn’t work, the company fails, and they’re in big trouble. In that worst case, when they look at and find the probability is 30-35 percent, they might consider that risk too high. If the risk were 5 percent, however, it might be a risk work taking. That’s why the probability needs to match up to the worst-case scenario.
Have a fearless focus. You’re ready to ask, “What do I really want that the fear was getting in the way of? How can I attain it?”. Focus on what you really want. Start imagining yourself attaining that. Develop a process, an action plan on how to attain it.
When you’re identifying a fear, you’re going to go through some of those emotions we talked about. Next time you feel anxious or nervous, stressed, worried or really frustrated, pause, step back and ask yourself, “What’s really underneath this? What fear is causing this emotion?”
Once you’ve identified the fear, you’ve begun the process of mastering it.