How to make fear work for you
Do the likes of Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and J.K Rowling ever feel scared? Surely when we reach a certain level of success fear simply melts away?
It’s a state, sometimes manic, that is known to many an intrepid soloist.
At first, it’s barely heard – almost whisper like and relatively easy to ignore. But push through with your bold plans and watch the whisper evolve into a well-funded ‘white ant’ campaign.
As the internal chatter intensifies, the ability to move forward is often paralysed by the questions of ‘what if’:
What if this doesn’t work?
"“Fear and terror usually mean you’re on the edge of doing something really big, that you’re about to step up and that you’re exactly where you need to be.”"
What if no one buys my product?
What if no one hires me.
“Well ‘what if’ it does work?” asked Eliza Priddle, a Gold Coast based mindset coach whose clients include Australia’s top Crossfitter Rob Forte and champion long-drive golfer Jason Atkin.
Because fear and terror usually mean you’re on the edge of doing something really big, that you’re about to step up and that you’re exactly where you need to be.
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“When you push through that fear you will reach a new level of trust and self-belief in yourself.”
But the question is how?
You can start by understanding this: While the physical manifestation of fear is real, fear itself is an illusion.
“Understand that fear is based on your past experiences,” says Eliza.
Your brain is literally saying, ‘This isn’t going to work because it didn’t work last time,’ but understand that this time you’re going to do it differently because you’ve got more tools, more education, more experience and more support.
These little statements can be a huge change in how you feel and step through fear.
On the other side of nagging self-doubt lies an impressive honours board of achievers. Oprah Winfrey, for instance, has openly and repeatedly discussed her battle with self-doubt.
Which begs the question: do the likes of Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington ever feel scared?
Surely when entrepreneurs reach a certain level of success fear simply goes away?
It was a question Jeff Walker raised on stage at Launch Con, an international marketing conference held in Los Angeles last month.
I sat in the audience – not only eager to hear the answer – but trying to distract myself as, in just a few hours, I would be speaking on stage in front of that very audience.
I was feeling quite terrified, and Jeff wasn’t about to help.
“Fear never goes away,” said Jeff (himself a highly successful internet entrepreneur and New York times #1 Bestseller). “You just learn to embrace it.”
But, once again, how?
Eliza was sitting next to me in the audience and said:
“Fear presents differently for everyone,” she said. “It manifests in the mind with negative self-talk and self-doubt – ‘but’ and ‘what if’ – as well as in the body physically and also energetically.”
But no matter how it presents, we can talk ourselves through it.
Three simple questions can be used to challenge and mitigate fear:
- Ask yourself why are you feeling like this? Is it real?
- Where did you learn it? How did you learn to respond like this?
- Why are you here? What is your REAL reason, true motivation, you real ‘why’?
“For example if you’re going up on stage and you’re fearful of what the audience is thinking instead ask, why would I be feeling this?” Eliza said.
“Are you nervous because as a kid you were judged standing up in front of the teacher or your friends – when was the first time you felt like that? Start having a conversation in your head. The brain then gets out of the emotion side and back into the thought provoking side and you can start to solve the problem.”
Fear evolved from the fight or flight response when caveman soloists fought sabre tooth tigers instead of profit and loss statements.
Fear is also a learned response.
“We always learn our reactions especially those emotional reactions that are quick and automatic,” Eliza said.
“So it’s important to look at where and who you learnt that from. Are you mirroring someone … your mum, your dad, your sister or your aunt? Because the fear might not even be yours, it might be learnt from someone else.”
Challenging the internal chitter-chatter with a prosecutorial style approach is key.
“Get out of the emotion and into the problem-solving side of you head so you can have some clarity about what you are feeling while knowing that it’s not real,” Eliza said.
“If you get where it’s from, the shift is massive and then energetically you can let it go.”
The final step is to connect to entrepreneurial motivation.
“Ask yourself why you are here,” Elisa said.
“Tap into your true ‘why’, not the 30-second elevator pitch that you tell everyone at networking events, rather your true, deep ‘why’. When you know your true motivation you can use it to push through the fear because fear is actually a really good thing.
“If you’re not setting goals that are scaring you they’re usually not big enough goals.”