We’ve all experienced some form of fear in our lives. Yes, even all the manly men who might be reading this blog, you too have to admit that at some point in your lives, you have been scared of something. Is there any shame in admitting you have fears? Of course not, nor should there be.
Fear is a natural human emotion that at times, can be used to inform a decision about what to do next. For example, the sound of a car quickly approaching when crossing an intersection raises our fear level and can help us react by moving out of the way. The fear acts as a trigger for a whole range of physiological changes in our bodies that help us react in the moment. But what about fears that stop us from doing something, or act as an obstacle in our path, such as a fear of the unknown, or the fear of failing at something?
That’s what I want to talk about today – how fears can stop us from reaching our goals. I have experienced this type of fear many times in my life and I’m willing to bet most of you have as well. It starts early in our lives. From the fear of rejection in junior high that stops us from approaching a person we’re attracted to, the fear we might feel before a job interview when the pressure is on and we want to make a good impression, or the fear of taking a risk. Those are all fears that are fueled by ‘what ifs’ and the unknowns.
Believe me, I’m certainly no shining example of being fearless of the unknown, but I have faced a lot of fears of that nature in my life and have come to an understanding of them. What works for me is logic. It sounds pretty simple, I know, but hear me out. Fears of the unknown are typically irrational and illogical, not always, but typically. Let’s use the example of not taking a risk because we’re afraid of what might happen. How would any of the innovations we all enjoy today be possible if the people who came up with the ideas for them never pushed them forward because they were too afraid of what might happen if they failed? The keyword here is idea, because that’s all something is before you actually do what is necessary with the idea to develop it into something. And that part about doing something to develop it, well that my friends involves taking a risk and overcoming fear. So I ask you again, if you let fear stop you from taking a risk then how the heck are you ever going to create something?
I get it, it’s scary. Yes, you’re right, you may stumble, you may fall, you may flat out fail. So? When a kid learns to ride a bike, they inevitably fall down. The first time they fall, they probably don’t see it coming. But the pain associated with falling instills a fear within them. Now if that kid doesn’t get back on the bike because they’re scared of falling again, they’re not going to learn how to ride a bike. Simple as that. The same underlying principle of overcoming fear applies to each and every instance of our lives when we let fear stop us from taking a risk. Now granted, I’m not suggesting people start jumping off buildings as a way of overcoming fears and ‘taking a risk’. Let’s be smart here people. What I’m suggesting is this – use logic to help you overcome fear. If you don’t try to do something, you have zero chance of achieving results. If you try, you have a really good chance of succeeding. Sure you may not succeed right away but let me tell you, I’ve learnt so much more in my life from all the times I’ve failed at something, than I have in all the times I’ve succeeded. In fact, the majority of successes in my life, if not all of them, have been achieved because of the learning I took away from the failures along the way.
And that’s another thing, the word failure. Please people, don’t let that word scare you. Failure is not a bad thing. I promise you, it’s not a negative judgment that needs to stop you. In fact, it should do the exact opposite. When you fail at something, that’s just an indication that you still have something to learn. So learn it and then enjoy the sweet taste of success.
One of my best friends once told me something that I have never forgotten. I was going through a significant time in my life that had a lot of ups and downs. I confided in her many times and got a bit self-conscious in telling her about the failures I made along the way. What she told me has so much logic, and for me, so much power, because it’s indisputable. She said, “If you take two steps forward, and then stumble and take a step back, you’re still one step further than you were before.” Right? Makes sense to me! So come on people, let’s stop letting fears stop us from achieving all that amazing potential I know we all have. Let’s turn fear into motivation and reap the rewards!