Understanding Fear

“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” – Anonymous

The fear of encountering obstacles is a big roadblock on the path to success. But obstacles are a part and parcel of life. The bigger your goals, the bigger your obstacles.

Staying focused on your vision by having a clear roadmap, and taking a slow and steady approach, allows you to not only overcome your challenges but also to make breakthroughs.

In certain situations fear is appropriate. For example, if you are in front of a lion you will be fearful, which is totally normal. However, fear that is reasonable is usually the exception, not the rule. Most of our fears are self-created and irrational.

Managing fear – and particularly being able to tell legitimate fear from the one that we have created in our minds – is a key attribute of any successful businessperson.

Reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you fear the future?
  • Do you allow obstacles to stop you from succeeding?
  • Have you created a roadmap of where you want to go?
  • Are you prepared to take the slow and steady approach to success, or are you looking for a quick fix?
  • Do you confront fear or run from it?
  • Do you analyze where your fear is coming from so you can overcome it at the root?
  • Do you dare to walk on the edge or do you always stay in your comfort zone?
  • Do you manage your anxiety or let anxiety control you?

No risk, no gain, as the saying goes. But this doesn’t mean risk at any cost: it means taking calculated risks – risks you can define, understand and evaluate. Calculating risks can help you manage your fear as well.

When assessing a daunting problem, ask yourself: “If the worst happens, would I be able to live with it?” If you can, then you might not have too much to fear. When you look at all the angles and minimize your risk, you may see that the upside is much greater. Or, if worse comes to worst, you don’t succeed in that particular opportunity, it won’t be the end of the world.

We can find examples of the strength and power that managing our fear can give us in all sorts of situations.

Steve Jobs’ approach to business and creativity went against convention, losing money along the way. Many people felt his ideas were too radical in the early days of his career, and they were not comfortable supporting his concepts because of that.  Jobs recalled: “Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards, ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Jobs made Apple the most valuable company in the world, a feat he could never have achieved had he let the fear of change, difference and future get to him. Fear can limit your growth in every area of your life.

The only way is to believe in yourself and face your fear, one step at a time.

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