“I am not afraid; I was born to do this.”–Joan of Arc
What do you fear?
All the stories of people who have overcame extraordinary circumstances to beat the odds, those who rose to the top of their game to achieve great success or blazed new trails are filled with examples of men and women who pushed past crippling fear, failure, rejection, and disappointment to chase after their dreams. Their stories show how they stepped out of their comfort zone and embraced risks to achieve breakthroughs and their life’s purpose. But whether you are successful or not, every one of us wrestle with fear in one area of our lives or another.
Fear becomes particularly evident when we are faced with making decisions about important life events such as marriage, divorce, starting a new business or career path. Fear can also impact decisions about having children, managing finances and making investments – fear can affect everything. In fact, research tells us that “fear is one of the seven universal emotions experienced by everyone around the world. Fear arises with the threat of harm, either physical, emotional, or psychological, real, or imagined. While traditionally considered a “negative” emotion, fear actually serves an important role in keeping us safe as it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger.”
Having said that, when individuals are driven by fear, they can show up as anxious and unable to take decisive actions. Fear can prevent people from stepping outside of their comfort zone, taking risks, seizing bold opportunities to pursue their dreams and doing things they have never done before. How we deal with fear can make or break our efforts to live meaningful and successful lives. So, what are you afraid of? What would you do if you were not afraid?
Be Fearless: 5 Principles for Overcoming Fear
In her book Be Fearless, Jean Case shared five principles for a life of breakthrough and purpose, gleaned from change makers all across the world. She tackled the question about why some people achieve transformational breakthrough while others do not? In answering the question, Case pointed out that the people who have gone on to change the world did not have extraordinary abilities, they were just passionate about making the world better. They seized opportunities despite the obstacles, loud objections and they succeeded. Therefore, if you are seeking to overcome fear and the fear of failure to achieve transformational breakthrough in your life, here are the five principles of “Be Fearless” that you should consider and apply:
- Make Big Bets and Make History: There is no perfect time to make a big bet. Case recommended that you start right where you are with the resources, experience, talents, and connections you currently have and just take it one step at a time. Though people will not know about your big bet until it is proven and successful, work diligently at it anyway. All it takes is a passion to make a big bet on that great idea that might change your life, solve a problem, or positively impact the world around you. Big bets change the world. So, while it natural to be cautious, strive for big ideas, not incremental change. Look at what has worked in the past and try to do more of it because history making transformation happens when people strive for revolutionary change. So, do you have a big bet or big idea that’s been burning inside you? What would it look life for you to start where you are and take your own big bet forward?
- Be Bold, Take Risks: According to the Case, it is easy to get caught up in protecting the status quo or what seems comfortable rather than pursuing a different path. Risks bring failure but we should not fear failure or making a mistake. Instead, we should try new things and keep experimenting. Because according to Josh Linker- playing it safe can become recklessly dangerous. Case also argued that even in parenting, allowing children to take risk teaches resilience and independence and promotes fun. Companies that play it safe and fail to keep abreast of trends are sure to go extinct- think of the fall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix. When you consider getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new to advance your big bet, make a point of also writing down the downside of not taking the risk. Then find your “courage zone’ because this is where exciting things happen. You cannot achieve great things if you do not pursue what matters to you.
- Make Failure Matter: We all have suffered failure in one area or another of our personal and professional lives. But for some people, failures can trigger feelings of “imposter syndrome” which causes individuals to doubt their abilities or feel like a fraud. Rather than getting stuck in a rut of self-limiting thoughts, try to apply the lessons learned from your setbacks to help you push forward. This way of thinking about your failures is best captured by the quote from Thomas Edison, who famously said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 things that won’t work.” Making failure matter means staring down both the failure and the fears that accompany it and applying the lessons as you move forward.
- Reach Beyond Your Bubble: Study after study confirms that we all have biases of one kind or the other which can narrow our perspectives of people that live and think differently than we do. To minimize or eliminate our blind spots, we must intentionally seek to open ourselves to diverse people, new ideas and different ways of thinking. This means stepping outside of our “comfort zone” and stepping into our “courage zone.” Rather than see people’s differences as obstacles or barriers, see them as opportunities to collaborate and forge unlikely partnerships and new opportunities. We are better together. Surround yourself with people that can help you reduce or minimize your blind spots. So, the next time you are at a table, ask yourself – who is not at the table, what perspectives could help us avoid blind spots?
- Let Urgency Conquer Fear: For some of us, overthinking and overanalyzing are a way of life. But if we spend too much time over thinking things, we will miss the boat, get trapped in analysis paralysis or just get stuck in your own way. But according to Case, we can choose to act with urgency or have urgency thrust upon us. When our backs are against the wall, when options are few, when time is no one on your side, a certain clarity can set in bring with it a boldness you might not have had in you. So, if you find yourself in this situation, let the urgency of the moment move you to act. Adapt the Nike slogan to “Just Do It”, fail fast and early and use the lessons to move on. So, what would you do if you were not afraid? Each of us are responsible for the kind of impact we have on the world. Go blaze your own trail, follow you own path. Go be the one!
At the end of the day, “fearlessness is not a lack of fear. It is the ability to look fear in the eye and look past it.” Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“It’s your road and yours alone. Other may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” -Rumi