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I surf. I didn’t just hop in the water one day and start surfing. It was a process. In fact, for the first month, I just paddled out and watched the waves roll by. It was so frustrating! I knew what I was supposed to do, but I was scared to try. Rather, I was scared to fail.
* What if I can’t stand up?
* What if I stand up, but fall off?
* What if I fall off and hit my head and have to go to the hospital? **
So I sat, day after day, not surfing. Then one day the old guy I was floating next to caught a beautiful wave, my wave. As he sailed by me on that beautiful, blue wall of water he shouted: “Girlie, you won’t know if you don’t go!” And just like that, I realized I had two choices: I could face my fears and go, or I could let my fear win and paddle into shore with my board between my legs. I’m guessing you know how this ends… I decided to GO. I chose to do the work. Now, you might want to hear that on my next wave I popped up and gracefully rode it all the way to shore. Reality check here –I said you have to do the work and so here’s a little bit of what the next few months looked like:
- 2nd month: I face planted more then I managed to pop up
- 3rd month: I could stand up but fell off more often than not
- 4th month: Popped up and rode a few waves. **NOTE: I did in fact, end up in the ER with a badass slice under my right eye.
- 10 years later: I can happily call myself a surfer
“Swell story Tracy, thanks for sharing –but what’s your point?”
My point is, tiny dancer, is I couldn’t do the work until I acknowledged my fear. I decided my desire to succeed was greater than my fear of failure. So I’m suggesting that although you have the drive to be successful, you may be inadvertently sabotaging your own success by bowing to your fears.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” – Anais Nin
Fear is an emotion that signals your body’s fight/flight/freeze survival defense. This is great if you are in mortal danger, but not so great if it manifests into a roadblock to your success. Some of your fears may be very rational and real, like spiders (Yup. I’m afraid of spiders). Or your fears may be irrational and a great way to make excuses, like a fear of starving. Many people say they won’t change careers because they can’t just let their family starve. Unless you live in a third world country with no work options and no attachment to your first world life, you and your family are never going to starve. You may struggle, but you aren’t going to starve.
ISSUE VS. INCONVENIENCE
So when does fear become a problem? Well, you first have to identify your fear and then decide if it’s an issue or an inconvenience (we’ll get there in a just a minute). If it is an issue, you have to decide if your desire for your goal is greater than your fear. My fear of spiders is more of an inconvenience than a debilitating concern. It doesn’t prevent me from caring for my family and I have never cited spiders as an excuse for why I couldn’t succeed. I am not willing to do the work to overcome my fear of arachnids.
However, my fear of failure while I was learning to surf was a problem. It was preventing me from doing something I passionately wanted to pursue. I had to acknowledge my fear of failure and push past it. My desire to surf was greater than my fear of failing. Once you label your fear, I’m not suggesting you won’t be afraid anymore, but you can at least begin to learn to “make nice” with your fear, and change the way you approach it. I’m still afraid in the water every once in a while, but I have an arsenal of tools that help me flick that fear into the ocean and paddle forward.
OK! The time has arrived for you to do some work, hard work. It’s time to label your fear. It’s time to get honest.
“Fear is the enemy of logic.” –Frank Sinatra
When it comes to business and success, your fear may look very different from mine. It’s important to identify your fear so you can crumple it up like a piece of paper and throw it away. Or better yet, turn it into a beautiful piece of origami and display it on your desk as a reminder of how you learned to live with your fear. I like to say it’s better to define your fear than allow your fear to define you. O.K. I don’t really say that very often but it’s pretty profound…don’t you think?
I want you to think about the roadblocks that continue to pop up relating to your success. If you are saying to yourself right now, “But I don’t have any roadblocks” then you are either a wildly successful person with a lot of time on your hands or you are lying to yourself (lying to yourself is a pretty great roadblock, by the way). Roadblocks present themselves as excuses. “I am ready to launch my product but…” Whatever follows your “but” is an excuse, and that will lead you to identify your fear.
- …but I don’t have time to market it properly.
- …but I don’t have enough money for marketing.
- …but I can’t just let my family starve.
Imagine your fears as marionette strings. If you do nothing, you remain confined to your space dancing in the same place over and over again. If you cut those strings by identifying and pushing past your fear, you are free to move and explore.
YOUR FEARS ARE NOT REAL
“Whatchoutalkin’ ‘bout Willis?” What I’m talking about, my friend is that fear is uncertainty about the unpredictability of future events. Fear is an irrational belief about one’s self, actions, objects, other people or even events. If fear were, in fact real then everyone would be afraid of spiders… like I am. Instead, my fear of spiders is rooted in the uncertainty that the little fellas might bite me. You may have a fear of speaking in front of people because of the uncertainty that you might be judged or disliked. However, if fear were real, no one would talk to each other. We would all share that uncertainty.
O.K., I’m going to put my spiders aside since I have already established that my fear of spiders does not affect my life negatively. But fear, especially within your personal life and business endeavors can be destructive.
Unacknowledged fears are more damaging than identified ones. If you allow uncertainty to dwell, fear can be a breeding ground for bad habits like:
- Neglecting responsibilities
Any of those sound familiar?
So let’s bring this around to video and your business (of course!). I want you to think about defining or labeling your fear when it comes to putting yourself out there. What are you afraid of?
If you don’t know where to start, you can download this worksheet to help you identify and start to process your fear.
Insert sounds of whistling while I wait here.