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We all have fear

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

We all have fear

Scott Miker

Fear is commonplace in life. We all experience fear from time to time. Sometimes this fear is perfectly normal and healthy and other times fear gets magnified or exaggerated and we make poor decisions due to feeling fear.

But too often fear controls our life. It does this by constantly prompting our decisions. It gives a little nudge every time we think about certain areas.

Again, sometimes this is healthy. If you feel a fear of drugs because you have seen it hurt people around you, this fear can help you avoid falling into a life of drug abuse and the devastation it can cause.

But if your fear is around looking foolish so it prevents you from chasing your dreams because you don’t want to fail, then fear is doing you a disservice. In this case, fear is stopping you from reaching a place of success and happiness and will keep you stuck without a path towards improvement.

So if you are the type of person who sets goals, has dreams and truly wants to do something great in life, then you have to learn to recognize fear and all its forms.

It could be the procrastination to start taking classes that you know are necessary for you to take the next step. It could be the way you jump to any distraction so you don’t have to take on challenges. It could be that legitimate obstacles combine with fear to produce impenetrable obstacles, stopping you from even trying.

If you can recognize fear, then you can start to approach it differently. Fear can tip you off to areas that could cause you harm so you don’t want to just ignore it. But you can’t let it control you.

Therefore, it can be helpful to break down the road to success and identify when fear causes you to act differently. If it is causing you to procrastinate you have to learn to do your due diligence but then jump right in as soon as you have enough information.

If it is causing you to get distracted, you have to learn how to focus. It is similar to a horse that wears blinders so it doesn’t get distracted by things on the side of it. This keeps the horse calm in a chaotic environment by having it only see what is in front of it. We have to find ways to block out these distractions so they don’t take us away from our goals.

If fear is combining with legitimate obstacles, it can be tricky. We have to find a way to separate out the fear from the actual problem. By doing this we can then evaluate the obstacle for what it is, not what the fear makes it out to be.

For instance, if you want to start a business but don’t have the funds, then it can be easy to let fear of failure in and grab on to the lack of funding. It can scream at you to stop and don’t even try to start a business because you don’t have the resources.

About three years ago I worked for the region’s largest small business support organization. One of my roles was to work with small business owners who were in the early stages of getting their business up and running.

I was able to see many people who had legitimate issue acquiring funding. But those who persisted and adjusted and did whatever they could to get around the issue often found a way.

It might not be to take on a traditional loan or take on a partner. It might have been to start more modestly and start with a smaller version of their dream and build up to the full business. It could be to keep exploring financing options or to save more of their personal funds.

But there seemed to be a clear distinction between those who would ultimately go on to start their business. Those who let fear combine with their obstacle often used this as a great reason to quit before they could really fail. Those who refused to quit persisted, knowing that failure was a real possibility. But they persisted in the face of fear.

In our own personal goals and pursuits we will likely face similar instances of fear. We can’t let the fear control us. We have to be able to clearly evaluate the problems we face to determine the best way to keep going. If we ultimately decide it isn’t worth the risk we can change direction. But if we realize that fear is just grabbing on to anything because we are scared, then we have to have the courage to face the fear and keep moving forward.