Learn to break free from the grasp of fear.

What you fear is never real. How can this be true? While the feeling of fear is very real, that which you fear may happen is never real. If your dreams are just as real as your fears, which one do you use as your fuel to drive you every day?

8-Steps to Creating a Coaching Culture by Keith RosenThe following is an excerpt from Keith’s Winner’s Path Weekly Newsletter.

I was speaking to a client recently when it struck me how often I find myself coaching people around their fears and worries. Although we may want to better our lives and accelerate our productivity, many of our decisions are governed by fear. We want more, but avoid risks, so we continually produce similar results over again. We fear change, for we may lose some degree of control over the outcome. We fear expressing how we feel or what matters most to us, in fear that it would make us vulnerable. We fear leaving what’s predictable and comfortable, although it may not be best for us. We fear not having and not getting, having what we want and losing it, even getting what we want and no longer wanting it!

Fear Breeds Mediocrity and Paralysis

This resistance prevents growth by convincing us to stick with what’s familiar and safe. We even do things or don’t engage in certain activities in the hope of avoiding fear. Resisting the fear of the unknown paralyzes our efforts to create greater opportunities for ourselves.

Ironically, most of our fears are not based on logic or reality. They are not real. Granted, the feeling of fear is very real and I’m certainly not disputing that. Fear is just another feeling, like happy, angry, frustrated, excited, overwhelmed or sad. These feelings often trigger a physiological reaction. Like these other feelings, our body’s reaction to the feeling of fear manifests in a variety of ways; an elevated pulse or heart beat, temporary paralysis, a knot in our stomach, neck, or back, even perspiration.

The Two Faces of Fear

There are actually two parts that make up the experience of fear. However, we often collapse these two parts together. If one component of fear is the feeling of fear, the other part of fear is that which we actually fear or the trigger that sends us into fear.

Because most of us collapse what we fear and the feeling of fear together without distinguishing between these two parts, we have a tendency to resist fear and make it our adversary rather than embracing fear as an ally.

Past, Present and Future – Where Do You Live?

We’re all familiar with the three points in time: the past, the present, and the future. That which we fear is only the negative expectation or assumption of what may happen in the future (what we don’t want to happen) and what is never happening in the present. Our fears can also be a result of something that happened to us in our past and as a result, we worry about it happening again.

To illustrate this point, here’s an extreme example. If someone held a gun to your head, chances are you’ll react and go right into fear mode. However, think about the two parts of fear. Sure, you are certainly experiencing the feeling of fear. There’s no question about that. However, think about what you are actually afraid of. Is it the gun to your head or is it the fear that the person may pull the trigger, which would lead to an unfortunate demise. Chances are, it’s the latter. It’s the possible negative outcome that’s terrifying. That’s the feeling part. However, the trigger has not been pulled yet. Therefore, while the feeling of fear is real, what you fear is never real because it hasn’t happened yet!

Here’s a more practical example. You’re sitting in your office and you check your voice mail. It’s a message from your boss saying, “Hey, call me back when you get this message. It’s important.” Click.

So, what are you experiencing right now? What are you telling yourself? Chances are your internal dialogue may sound something like, “Oh no, what did I do now?” “Uh oh. Am I in trouble?” “What mistake did I make?” “Am I getting fired?” “This is definitely about my numbers.”  Ouch….

Conversely, in the same scenario we often don’t react with, “Awesome! My boss just called me! Wohooo! I can’t wait to call him back so that I can hear about all the positive things I’ve been doing, get some authentic praise and the accolades I deserve from the work I’ve been doing and the extra time I’ve been putting in!”

Then, when you finally call your boss, they were just looking for your final expense report from your last successful business trip to a client’s office, to which they followed up with, “Well done.” Now, you’re thinking, “That’s it? Great! I can do that!”

We all default to fear. And guess what? When you approach your direct reports with the same type of request that your boss made, how do you think they react? So now managers are doing to their people the very thing that they don’t want done to them which breeds more fear! As such, the viscous cycle perpetuates and before you know it, you’re living in the very fear based culture that managers inadvertently create!

Finally, how about the salesperson who’s getting closer to closing one of their larger deals for the quarter. Based on the last conversation with that customer, they sent of the final agreement  over, which the customer said they’d turn around over the next day or so. A week later, you still don’t have the agreement.

What is that salesperson thinking? “What did I do wrong? “How did I lose this sale?” “I guess a competitor came in.” “Seems like they changed their mind and it’s not a priority for them.” “It must be price.” “I thought they liked me?” This salesperson is now fully distracted, worrying about this deal, scrambling around stressed out and wondering how they’re going to make up that number to hit their quota. Not only have the now put themselves in a negative state of mind but because of their fear based reaction, they even assumed what the objection was as to why this customer did not buy, without even validating this assumption by speaking with the customer! Subsequently, the additional collateral damage of this line of thinking ensues, as this salesperson then writes in this customer’s contact information the assumptive, fear based reason as to why they lost this sale. “The reason they didn’t buy was because of price.”

Then, a few more days pass by and this salesperson gets a call from that customer saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t get this agreement back to you. I had a personal emergency that took me out of the office for a week. Let’s move forward now.” Take a moment and think about how much time as well as emotional and physical energy was wasted up until the point where this salesperson got the real facts in this scenario.

If we are pushed to avoid consequences or what we don’t want to happen, conversely we are pulled towards what we do want; pleasure. Since fear is the negative assumption of the outcome, try shifting your focus to the positive outcome or what you do want to manifest, instead of what you are looking to avoid.

Your Fears are as Real as Your Dreams

The key point here is this, our fears are just as “real” as our dreams! But as long as we give more power to our fears rather than our dreams, our fears will always seem as if they are more of a reality and in turn will get the better of us. If you stop and think about it for a moment, they are both visions and pictures of a future that we have constructed or visualized in our mind’s eye. Both our fears and dreams are created using the same tool; our imagination!

The quandary is that most of us spend more time focusing on that which we fear rather than the goals or dreams we want to create. Lets face it; we’re all pretty good at articulating what we don’t want to happen in our lives yet fall short when trying to come up with a vivid picture of what we do want or our personal vision, goals and dreams.

If you know what you don’t want and don’t know what you do want then where do you think you are going to continually wind up directing your thoughts and energy? Your goals and dreams don’t even stand a chance! Instead, empower your dreams and goals rather than your fears to be the driving force that moves you forward. Once you do so, you will then be able to achieve them.

Fear Is Your Greatest Teacher

Imagine what would be possible if you embraced fear and considered it to be one of your greatest teachers? If you resist fear or react when you feel fear, then you can’t learn from it or even recognize any lessons that would contribute to your continued evolution. And if you aren’t learning from it, then you can’t look at the fear as something that can be reframed into a positive opportunity to grow and change.

So, if you want to accelerate your success and make better choices in your life both personally and professionally, embrace your fears rather than avoid or ignore them. Only then are you able to distinguish between the facts and the negative assumptions of what may be. Now, compound this with embracing your vulnerability. I’m not referring to being vulnerable as in putting yourself in harms way but being vulnerable is in being authentic and human. And if you start embracing your fears, your worries and your vulnerability that every person’s ego has tendency to shy away from, then what else can stop you? Nothing. You’ve broken the fear based paralysis that keeps you stuck in one place and the grip that fear had on you. This is your success formula for becoming unstoppable.

Make Fear Your Ally

When you make decisions based on your fears rather than your goals and dreams, it will cloud your judgment.

In essence, you’re making a decision based on a lie, a fabrication and something that doesn’t exist in the present moment. The only true reality is what occurs in the present moment, the here and now. Just because you touched a hot stove once, doesn’t mean you have to fear cooking just like if you had a tyrant of a boss in one position it doesn’t mean your next boss is going to be his evil twin brother.  Instead, you’ve just learned one new lesson and how you can approach it differently the next time.

Take the time to think about how much of your life and your decisions and goals are governed by fear and an avoidance of something you don’t want to happen instead of by what you do want; the positive, ideal scenario? The real opportunity here is this; you can choose to upgrade your relationship with fear and learn to respond to it in a healthier way rather than continually reacting to it the way you have. So, the next time you experience the reaction of fear, start gathering solid evidence so that you can determine if the fear is actually a realistic threat or just your active imagination. This way, you can best manage the fear in your life and make it your ally.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Make fear your ally rather than your adversary so that you can learn and grow from it.
  • Top producers have learned what average producers haven’t; to embrace their fears and do what needs to be done anyway.
  • Things rarely happen the way we worry about them.
  • What you fear isn’t real.
  • Identify the indisputable facts surrounding every situation so that you can make an objective decision based on what truly is, rather than what you think is true but is not.
  • Determine your healthy and pleasurable fuel source to ignite your passion and drive your activity and efforts.
  • You are the greatest gift you can give to your prospects/customers and team, as well as the best-kept secret, so let it out!
  • Fears and dreams are only possibilities that are constructed in your imagination.
  • Bring yourself and your thinking back into the present moment. Since that which we fear lives in the future, the fear can’t get to you in the moment.
  • Shift your focus to the outcome that you do want to create or manifest instead of what you don’t want or what you want to avoid.

Photo Credit: zen!