If you're going through the ups and downs of life, maybe thinking about quitting on that dream idea to start a business (or even something not business-related, like traveling around the world), let me throw you a lifeline.
Darren Hardy, best-selling author of The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, says that the real reason 66 percent of people fail is because of all the bumps, dips, and hard turns that come with the unexpected emotional roller coaster ride. People end up falling into the victim trap ("I'm not cut out for this") and quit at pursuing their dreams.
The biggest mental roadblock of all
But the biggest roadblock holding people back is that nasty four-letter word: F-E-A-R.
Hardy says that no matter how much you're warned and how skilled you are, fear is the ONE thing that can crush you and stop you from realizing your dreams and goals.
How bad is fear infiltrating our minds, exactly? In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article about research that found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Out of those thousands of thoughts per day, 80 percent are negative and fear-based.
What's worse is that there's a mind/body connection. Fear-based thoughts that diminish our sense of self-worth and contain words like "never," "won't," and "can't" are particularly draining and deplete the body by producing corresponding chemicals that weaken our physiology. So, if you're usually exhausted at the end of the day and wonder why, there you have it.
Dr. Robert L. Leahy, in his book, The Worry Cure, goes further. He talks about a study where 85 percent of what study subjects typically feared and worried about never actually happened! With the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the challenge better than expected, or the challenge taught them a lesson worth learning.
Overcoming fear with three powerful questions
If you've been operating on a mindset of fear over the years, and it's been limiting your full potential and purpose in life, it's going to take a drastic shift to operate on a mindset of possibilities. But that shift is totally doable.
Here's what to do: Apply these three self-coaching questions to any roadblock standing in the way, or any tough decision you may have to make where fear is holding you back.
- What am I afraid of?
- Why am I afraid?
- What would I do if I weren't afraid?
When you have the courage to really get introspective and ace these questions, it allows you to get in touch with your heart -- with what it is you truly want, free of fear, doubt, or worry clouding your dreams and deepest desires. This is when the work of self-discovery truly begins.
The key? It's following through on that last powerful question that demands action and intentionality -- "What would I do if I weren't afraid?"
So, what would you do? Fly to a foreign country to finally meet the woman of your dreams in person? Quit that dead-end job to start that non-profit to help victims of sec-trafficking? Courageously ask for that raise you know you deserve?
Bringing it home
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously quipped, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It's what happens before you make that super important call, walk on stage in front of 1,500 people for a keynote the first time, or fly across the country to make a pitch to investors that could make or break your chances to scale the business.
The anticipation of fear kicks in and you turn to jell-o. But here's the thing I want you to always remember. Just as it was when you jumped in the pool into the waiting arms of a parent, after you pull it off, you realize you're not in danger and things weren't so bad.
Training your brain to accept there's no real or perceived threat as you go through the eye-of-the-storm will help you to switch off the fear response. This. Takes. Practice.
Bringing back Darren Hardy, he says, "Don't let your mind twist itself into a frantic mess by focusing on the magnified (and usually negative and false) outcome."
Hardy says that many people never get to the stage of facing their demons and habituating to fear. By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, Hardy says it loses its power and control over you. The one thing that was your greatest detriment now becomes your greatest strength.