The Importance of Overcoming Fear
The best things in life are on the other side of fear.
Fear can be a good thing. It is necessary for survival as it protects us against danger by allowing us to steer clear of potential danger. But in society we have begun to perceive embarrassment and failure as “dangerous”. And this makes sense. From an evolutionary perspective, survival is much more likely if we form packs/herds/groups. So community is important to us. We are social creatures and do not want to be ridiculed and therefore exiled form our communities.
The problem is… Fear is also one of the most crippling emotions, especially when it comes to growth. Fear coerces us to err on the side that danger exists even when there is none. Many of us have become conditioned to believe that both failure and the negative opinions of others are to be avoided… even if the failure has little to no risk of harm or exile; and the opinions of others are fickle and affect nothing. And when we feel this, we amplify the danger in our minds. And this fear restricts us. It makes us unwilling to try to learn new things or keep trying at things we’ve failed at. It makes us avoid actions and situations that may lead to potential embarrassment. And if it is making us avoid learning, avoid trying and avoid action, then it’s making us avoid growth!
In order to learn, grow and become successful, we MUST learn to overcome fear.
The most successful people in the world believe this very thing. So there must be some truth to it. If we want to be successful. We must model success. So for an example of how important overcoming fear is to a very successful person, check out this clip from an interview with Will Smith:
How to Overcome Fear
Practice Practice Practice!
Well how does one get good at any skill? Practice. Overcoming fear is no different. If we want to be brave. We must practice bravery. This means doing things that you are scared to do simply in order to become good at doing things you are scared to do, even if that specific thing isn’t important. You can start with small things and build up to big things but practice is important.
Assess the actual danger.
Okay so you have an action that you want to do and are scared to do. The first thing to do is assess the outcome of the action. For this, you must remove all emotion from the assessment. Try treating it as a simple hypothetical or pretend that you are not gonna do it anyway to remove all pressure/nervousness about it. After that, determine the true danger of your action. Will this cause actual harm to you or anyone else? If it would cause actual harm, don’t do it. If not, proceed to the next step.
Forget the outcome!
This may seem strange given the previous step. But now that the outcome has no actual danger, it’s not important. We need to detach ourselves from the outcome – live in the moment, so to speak – in order to not care if we fail or not and eliminate all pressure to perform well. It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is the action. There is no outcome. Period.
You don’t need to figure everything out on your own. Whether you need to overcome fear in general or for something specific, chances are someone else has done it. So find them and see what they say. There are tonnes of resources out there – books, videos, blogs – in which the top 1% gives tips on how to overcome fear. So find virtual mentors and implement their tried and proven techniques. Model success.
Remember that failure means progress!
The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.
These tips were inspired by Robin Sharma. He is a great mentor to me and has some inspiring content. Check it out:
It’s easy to talk the talk. And it’s easy to read things online and say “hashtag truth”. But we gotta put things into action.
So I have a challenge for you! You get to choose:
- Every day, for the next week, do one small thing you are scared to do.
- Or every week, for the next month, do one big thing you are scared to do.
Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
And don’t worry. I’m doing it too! For a month, starting January 1, 2018, I will do one thing that scares me each week. And I will document this in the Experiments section of the blog in the Fear Series category. You ready? Let’s go!