Every single one of us has faced fear. Fear of rejection, failure, criticism, and even fear of success. Often, these concerns hold us back from doing our best work.
Fear persists in all of us. Some of us are afraid of sharing our message, while others fear going out of business. We spend our days hiding in busy work instead of doing the things that propel us to greatness.
While many people are still struggling with overcoming their fears, some have learned how to use these negative thoughts to their advantage. I believe fear is a good thing. It’s helped us survive as species for millions of years and, without it, we probably wouldn’t even be here.
I’ve heard the argument that fear has outlasted its usefulness in today’s world. Most of us don’t need to worry about becoming dinner for a wild animal. We live in homes that keep us relatively safe and warm, and modern medicine has allowed people to live longer than ever before. So why do so many of us still experience fear?
When we’re born, we have two innate fears: falling and loud noises. Every other fear is learned from our environments and our culture. These anxieties are developed at an early age and influenced by those around us, and they can be hard to kick. So, how can you turn your fear into something good?
Here are three ways that I like to think about it:
Fear is like a compass.
Seth Godin talks a lot about the lizard brain. This is our voice of doubt. Fear is hardwired into our reptilian brain. Whenever we start something new or take a step towards our dream goals, our lizard brain starts telling us to slow down and be careful.
Rather than letting us move out of our comfort zone, the lizard brain forces us to procrastinate, make excuses and believe in our doubts. It’s human nature. However, these doubts and fears should show you that you are headed in the right direction. Once you learn how to quiet the lizard voice, you can achieve your goals.
Fear is a tool.
Tim Ferriss does this amazing exercise called ‘fear-setting’. It’s a quick activity where you ask yourself three simple questions:
What could go wrong? Define the problem.
How can I prevent that problem from happening? Define the actions that can ward off the problem.
If it does go wrong, how can I fix it? Define how to repair the damage.
Once you break down your fears, you come to realize how to face them.
Lastly, fear is fuel!
Fear can be the driving force to help you reach your goals. When you experience fear, it triggers a fight or flight response. You can either run away from your fears or face them head-on. Sometimes you just need a kick in the butt to get you started in the right direction.
Your fear is there for a reason. Don’t try to suppress it.
Embrace the tension.
Who knows, it might end up being your biggest strength.