Fear is natural. In a predator-versus-prey world, heightened awareness is critical to survival. In our world of business, however, most fears have little to do with survival and more to do with personal insecurities.
“Will I meet my deadline?”
“Does my boss like me?”
These doubts do little to help us achieve our goals. In fact, they often impede them. Yes, fear can serve a motivational purpose, but substituting this with confidence will provide better results. A few key strategies can help manage -- and eventually eliminate -- unnecessary fears.
1. Realize you’re not alone.
Regardless of what fears you face, someone somewhere has already figured out a way to overcome them. Allow this fact alone to bring you comfort. If they can prevail, you can too.
2. Remove all visions of doubt.
In the book How Champions Think, Dr. Bob Rotella shares a story of the late world-class golfer Sam Snead. “He would get into bed at night after a tournament round and replay every shot in his imagination. But when his replay came to a shot he hadn’t played well, he edited it. He erased the memory of the poor shot and instead visualized himself playing the shot correctly.”
A big part of overcoming fear is to choose the right picture and focus on it. Sam Snead fixated on what he wanted, not on the negative. He understood that the image you allow to carry the greatest weight will be the one that manifests itself.
3. Understand what opportunities you have the potential to lose.
Fear prevents us from acting outside of our comfort zones. In the moment, it was “safer” to do nothing. In retrospect, we often wish we would have just “gone for it.” At least then we would be living with a swing and a miss instead of having watched a strike go by with the bat on our shoulder.
The lesson to be learned from missed opportunities: Next time, stare fear in the face and give it your best shot.
4. Draw on personal experiences.
When I was a young boy, I remember playing Little League ball and having a fear of being hit by a pitch. Over time, with much practice and experience at the plate, that fear subsided.
Another past fear of mine is public speaking. I vividly recall speech class in high school, where my greater worry of not graduating trumped my fear of speaking in front of my class. Now that I am able to recall a few personal triumphs -- no matter how big or small -- I am confident in my ability to move past any mental roadblocks I may face.