Using Fear-Before It Uses You

Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible,
– Aristotle

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Fear (noun)—an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief or anticipation
that someone or something is dangerous, a threat,
or likely to cause pain.

Fear stands between us and our dreams, it is a powerful mental response. This feeling of not enough, not being ready, needing more training, more resources or numerous other excuses before you THINK you can start progressing is what plagues so many people.

However fear can also be your ally, mastered well fear can be good in helping us touch the edge of our discomfort, if allowed it can become your ultimate motivator. Here is the bad news. Most of us have been programmed in exactly the WRONG way to deal with fear and find ourselves completely debilitated. Most people think fear means – lets not try to risky. And unfortunately, most people never break out of this misinformed, painful mind state. Or put another way “Most fear is just bad management of the mind”.

However Fear can serve a valuable purpose, helping us achieve and gain the life we really want to live. Your mindset is crucial, you must focus on breaking through the frustrations and limiting beliefs and use the fear as a motivator. Ultimately fear needs to be mastered.

Growth Mindset versus I am not enough

It is important to work adopting a growth mindset, start to believe that your abilities are not fixed. Your abilities are flexible and if at first you hit a setback just dig deep and try harder. Get a long term attitude and avoid the short term pleasure seeking mindset.

Most of you will have heard the term comfort zone and how staying inside this zone is a sure fire way to achieve nothing. However the problem with comfort zones are that we often can’t tell when we’ve been sucked into them. From the safety of our comfort zones we get complacent. We fall into our “raise-work-eat-sleep-repeat” routines and forget to live outwardly, ultimately sacrificing the ability to impact our world.

The following quote from Carol Dweck author of Mindset summarises a growth mindset perfectly, (a great read I recommend everyone reads this book cover to cover).

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not
going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to
thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
― Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success

Take Action versus Excuses (Fear of Failure)

Excuses are our inherent fears best friend, they allow us put our dreams and desires on
the back burner. I don’t have enough time or I don’t have the experience ……I don’t…I
don’t …I don’t. Excuses are safe, comforting and they provide us with the reason for not
trying in the first place.

Realise your brain will use excuses as a means of deflecting accountability. When you
chose to use an excuse you are basically choosing not to manage or overcome it.
The habit of removing expectations will greatly assist in defeating this fear, don’t load
yourself down with inflated expectations that when not met will feed the Excuses habit. Enjoy
the journey and realise that progress however small is being made on a daily basis.

Focus versus What if – (make the goal a must)

The most important aspect in overcoming the excuses and the inactivity is to focus on the
cost of not pushing the boundaries, of not pushing fear aside and acting on your dreams.
Try to imagine your eulogy and how it would sound if you had let fear hold you back and
not achieved any of your goals or dreams…. the message would be a massive “What If

A testimony filled with huge regret and unfinished business. Think of it this way: When we
are 85, we aren’t going to remember that one Tuesday we sat at our desk for eight hours.
Remember you will at times fail it is simply part of the process, use these failures as
lessons in resilience and not what most people do and use failure as a backer to your fears.
Failure correctly interpreted will offer insights and a guide to correct ways to approach
the situation a new.

Habits and Routine versus Fear of Change

Getting out of old habits is not easy, but it is important to remember old habits will result in
no progress, they were not effective before and it is futile to expect things to change if you
operate in the same old ways.
The big mistake though is to make the habit changes too sweeping, literally too radical
and therefore feeding your fear by making the process seem overpowering. Instead focus
on small daily habit changes these small steps overtime will reap huge rewards.
Examples – Start to journal, use the Headspace app and start to meditate, commit to read
20 pages of a book that feeds your desires and dreams daily.
Become accountable for your actions, either tell someone of your new routines or journal
them first thing in the morning then report and review on them last thing at night.
The Domino Effect states that when you make a change to one behavior it will activate a
chain reaction and cause a shift in related behviors as well. This phenomenon is explained
in the classic book on human behaviour, Influence by Robert Cialdini. It not only creates a
raft of new behaviours, but often negates limiting beliefs. As each tiny domino falls, you
start believing new things about yourself and start to forge a whole range of new habits
and behavioural beliefs. The old adage is never more relevant …

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now

To summarise to live a life where fear becomes a tool you use as oppose to your enemy is
a process formed of mindset change and focus. You must:

  • Make your goals no 1 priority
  • Recognise the excuses are just safety measures you bring up to avoid pain and failure
  • Work tirelessly on adopting a growth mindset
  • Fail big, Fail bigger….faiure is part of the process…use the lesson, then down, test and adjust and move on….

Ultimately if we face our fears regardless of how massive the challenge seems you will find
you are more capable and more interesting to others then you could ever have imagined.
I argue that it’s the risks we take, the times when something is hard but we push on anyway,
that is when we start to believe and make real progress towards our dreams and
goals. A good story never started with, “I woke up, ate breakfast and then took a conference
call on the way to catch the 0805hrs to London then sat in my cubicle for the rest of
the day, until it was time to go home” At least, not the kind of story that gets remembered.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
– Nelson Mandela

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