|The physical symptoms of terror and exhilaration are identical – the only difference is the name you give to them.|
|In Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick first mate Starbuck said that a fearless man is more dangerous than a coward, because a fearless man is more likely to take crazy risks. The wise man, he said, acknowledges fear and uses it to his advantage.|
In this sense, fear can be an ally that prevents such risks. Fear is an ally when it draws your attention to critical problems in your work and in your life, and then impels you to take corrective action. Following are some of the steps to make fear work for you rather than against you:
Understand your fear: What is it trying to tell you? Generally, fear can be trying to tell you that you are not ready for something that could soon happen, or that in some way you are on the wrong path in your life.
Talk back to your fear: When fear is trying to prevent you from taking risks that could in fact eliminate the source of the fear, you need to put on your bravest face, rebut your fears with your bravest affirmations, then fake it till you make it (or fake it till you become it).
Get the facts: Fear breeds in ignorance and dissipates when you shine the light of knowledge upon it. What do you not know now that if you did know would make your fear more manageable, and how can you find it out?
Prepare yourself: Fear is often simply the suspicion that you are not ready for some future occurrence. What steps can take to prepare yourself for the future eventualities you fear today? Fear doesn’t stand a chance when confronted with preparation and discipline.
Transform inertia into energy: By altering your conscious perception of the emotion, you can transform paralyzing inertia of fear into catalyzing energy for action and change. The physiological symptoms of terror and exhilaration are identical – the only difference is the name that you give to the symptoms.
Pay attention: Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present. Fear is caused by dragging around the dead weight of past defeats and imagining more such defeats in the future. The antidote to this fear is present awareness, which can be cultivated through a disciplined practice of mindfulness.
Take action: Do the thing you fear, said Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the death of the fear is certain. This ancient wisdom has never been more relevant than in today’s fast-moving world. Action is the difference between wishful thinking and positive thinking. Action is the hacksaw that cuts through the prison bars of fear.
Connect with other people: Speaking with others can give you comfort and courage, and might open your eyes to possibilities that you haven’t yet considered for eliminating the source of your fears.
Have fun: You cannot simultaneously be amused and frightened. Spontaneity, humor and laughter bolster courage. As a side benefit, they also foster creativity, fellowship, and joy. Oh, and if that’s not reason enough, recent research shows that laughter and joy will make you healthier and help you live longer.
Coming this September 14: Everyday Courage for Extraordinary Times – a video course for your team. Watch for details in Spark Plug next week!