Is fear a sign of weakness or a sign of strength? From an early age we are taught to not show fear. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, right?
But my childhood idol Kevin McAllister was afraid and he survived not one but two Christmases on his own. And the second one was in New York. I'm a 32-year-old adult and I still get anxiety trying to navigate Manhattan.
Feel free to judge.
Fear is what stops people from taking a new job, starting a new business, getting out of their comfort zone. If you're reading Inc. then you probably have less fear than most but you still have fear.
So then you have to embrace it, overcome it, turn that fear in to a positive.
I'm reading FEARVANA by Akshay Nanavati right now. Why? Mostly because the quote on the cover is from the Dalai Lama. And also because I'm trying to challenge myself to find motivation from something other than conventional marketing and business books.
"Fear propels you to prepare. When we engage it with awareness, it can become our greatest ally. Fear is energy that channels our focus into the mission at hand," said Nanavati in our interview. "It doesn't matter how, when or where fear shows up. All that matters is what we do with it."
In the book Nanavati talks about four strategies to embrace fear. He uses the VIEW acronum to describe how to channel and embrace fear:
V: Visualize the obstacle standing between where you are now and where you want to be
I: Isolate yourself from the fear to understand it so you can better prepare for it
E: Embrace the fear. Simply choosing to breathe in your fears and perceive them as excitement will allow them to work in your favor
W: Why. What is the driving force pushing you to engage your fears? What is the reward waiting for you on the other side of them? And the consequences of not taking action?
Let's tackle these one by one.
This seems simple but how often do you hit the pause button and make full assessments of what is standing in your way? Not often, most likely. Life is busy. If you're building a startup you don't feel like you have time to stop moving.
We all know what our ideal version of success is. Ask anyone and they will be able to tell you in less than a minute. But for many of us we have a hard time detailing the steps it will take, chess pieces that will need to move for us to become a millionaire or start a successful business or retire early.
And plans always will change as they go in to action. You can never plan for everything. But in my case when I start a business I identify the people and organizations I'll need help and support from to make it work and work quickly. I look at who is already in this space, what that competition does and doesn't do well. And then I map out a loose plan on what the first few steps will be to get to my end goal.
By doing this I take a lot of the unknown out of a goal. And fear is mostly the unknown.
If you see the path to success with clear action steps, and something is still holding you back, that something is then easy to identify. It can be a part of your plan you're not confident in, a risk assessment you're doing internally.
Get feedback. Tell others what you're afraid of and see if they share that opinion or not. Remember everyone's advice also comes through their own lens so it's not 100% effective but enough sources can help you find consensus. This will help you know if it's fear or a real reason holding you back.
This is not unlike being thrown in a pool when you're little. Sometimes we need a push to know we can conquer something. If you don't think you can do it on your own, again seek out help, and find someone to throw you in to the pool. Metaphorically, of course.
Finding Your Why
There's no point in conquering fear just for the sake of doing it. You have to have some target that is motivating you to reach outside your comfort zone. Being passionate about something will keep you motivated.
Often we're afraid not to move because we are comfortable where we are. But flip that perspective. If you don't act will that be positive? We rarely weigh the risks of not trying too.