Everyone has fears; however, where once they were the basis for daily survival, in a world of prosperity and opportunity most are now based on less helpful emotions.
This is particularly true when we consider the fears that are associated with our professional worlds. When we are hesitant to try something new or make a difficult decision, in most cases the root cause can be traced back to some level of fear. Whereas fear of injuring ourselves by jumping off a cliff is a healthy application of the emotion, rarely will the consequences be so dire or assured in situations associated with our businesses. As such, most successful business people have tricks and tools for overcoming fears.
1. Apply the “logic” test
Fear is an emotion which will often be removed with a simple application of logic. Most fears are based on the potential for injury or damage, but what is the actual likelihood of that happening? Every jump has the potential to result in a broken limb – people break their ankles stepping off a curb, but how likely is that to happen? Compare that to jumping off a 100 foot cliff. Unfortunately we can be inclined to treat every “jump” the same.
By looking at the situation logically, often you can move past your fear. Asking yourself a series of logical questions will often quiet your fears and make space to move forward. Questions to consider are:
- How likely is it that your worst fears will actually come to pass?
- What are precautions you can implement to minimize this possibility?
- Are your fears based on personal experience, other people’s anecdotes, or the unknown?
- What would happen if the opposite of your fear was the result?
2. Take smaller steps
Often when we analyze our fears it is the size or scope of the undertaking that is actually the basis of our concern. Where the thought of dropping 100 feet is terrifying, most of use can imagine taking 50 2-foot strides down a mountain path. Instead of doing the big, scary thing, try implementing a smaller version first. If it fails, it won’t have as great a negative impact and it is likely you will still learn something in the process. If it succeeds, you can gain confidence to implement it on a larger scale.
Rarely is the “big” version the only option, although it may take some creativity to uncover a smaller alternative. For example instead of fully developing a new product on service, create a beta version or a pilot offering. Limit the size and scope to work out any kinks and verify the validity of the idea. If it flops, only minimal resources were utilized. If it succeeds, you gain feedback, endorsements, and ideas for improving the next version.
3. Find a strategic partner
An empty house at night is almost always more frightening when you are alone than when there is someone with you. The phrase “strength in numbers” rings particularly true when it comes to overcoming fear. When a fear is based on the unknown, eliminating the unknown will also often eliminate the fear.
In business this can take many forms:
- Education focused in the area of need.
- A support system of other like-minded individuals with varied experiences.
- Individual consulting with an expert in the area of concern.
- A formalized business partnership with one or more people who bring knowledge and/or expertise.
What is stopping you?
If you have a task that never seems to get done or a goal that seems to sit without progress, the question to ask is – what is the block? Sometimes it is no longer important, but more often than not there is some underlying fear holding us back. Once you identify the issue, then you can go about addressing it. Each time a fear is overcome, you grow in confidence and gain skills to manage and minimize the effects of fears in the future. Are fears managing you and your business or are you managing your fears?