I meet them regularly – people from all walks, snaking about with the foul word on their lips, spewing the venom left and right, indignant about why they can’t do this in their lives, what’s preventing that in business or the other thing that’s got them chained to mediocrity. The F Word: It really is a bomb.
It’s fear, and it blinds, it paralyzes, it blocks paths of opportunity. Those who wield it know it’s sabotage; those who embrace it often know, too. Gen. George S. Patton III said,
“There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.”
Fear is a naturally distressing emotion aroused by the perception of impending danger, pain or other highly undesired condition, whether the threat is real or imagined. What fascinates me about the definition of fear is that the threat may be real or imagined. I’d venture to presume that most of the fears experienced by the people I encounter are not entirely valid; the level of threat is imagined.
Fear is often a projection of the future and rarely about what’s happening in the moment. It’s our thinking that’s the problem. We believe the false messages that our brains conjure up and then we get mired down in the thought process-or, kaboom!, we explode with anxiety. Either way it’s a show-stopper, literally.
Steve Chandler, business coach, speaker and author of 20-plus books, has an interesting take on the subject.
“In my life as a coach I have never had a client who experienced a fear that was not based on a false evaluation of threat. In other words, on an illusion. Einstein said that there was only one truly important question, and that was whether or not the universe is kind. He discovered in the symphony of his mathematics and physics that the universe is indeed kind. Most of us have not yet made the same discovery, but more of us are every day.”
Recently, I met with a prospect who’d asked in an e-mail, “Do you have some time in the next week or two for lunch? I want to talk to you about what our company is doing for marketing (not much) and see what you think you might be able to do for us.”
He talked about why he was afraid to do this or try that. I later tailored a plan to meet this company’s needs, goals and budget, with components that had proven successful for other businesses in Hampton Roads. But this business owner was too afraid to take the plunge. Over and over he claimed, “I know we have to do something, but we just can’t right now.”
He cited the ‘dangers’ of approaching clients for testimonials and the potential rejection that lurked at the other end of every phone call. He was a victim of his own thinking. As a result, his business remains stagnant.
Such a mindset could spark the beginning of the end, says Sheila Guilette-Moore, business analyst and master NxLevel instructor with the Small Business Development Center.
“As a small-business owner, you cannot afford to be hostage to fear.”
So how do we diffuse the F bomb? These five tips have helped my clients push past their fears and into the light of success:
- The best way to deal with fear is to confront it right away. This eliminates anticipation, addresses the problem and shifts thoughts of hopelessness to thoughts like, “Wow! If I can accomplish that, I wonder what else I can do?”
- Don’t believe in fairytales. In identifying invalid fears as stories that our brains make up, we become empowered to re-write the story.
- Walk it out. When we’re walking, running, swimming or engaging in other aerobic exercise, we’re also effectively oxygenating our brains. Exercise helps to clear the mind, release endorphins and renew perspective.
- Think in terms of opportunity. Don’t get caught up in negative talk. Business opportunities abound; just be willing to look. Who knows, you might be the last man or woman standing.
- Find support. I find an ongoing source at ClubFearless.net, a global mastermind group that provides inspirational and motivational books and audio programs by Steve Chandler, as well as member forums for mutual support of business success.
Stop snaking around; I dare you. Take one bold step to defy the F bomb today. Let all the others behold your courageous stance.