Recently I have been thinking about fear and how it relates to behavior. We typically avoid things that scare us, which, of course, makes perfect sense. We have evolved an instinctive fear of threats and this avoidance behavior is ingrained in us as a way to protect us from harm. However, as is often the case, in the modern world our natural biological defenses can unnecessarily hold us back from deep fulfillment. Many times, that which we instinctively fear can actually be harmless, or even a blessing.
But in order to assess a fear I have found that you have to unpackage it first, to really consider its components and sources, and to figure out whether itís worth ignoring. By way of example, I recently experienced some fear in dating a man who is unable to walk. When I really thought about my reaction I realized that it was simply a fear of the unknown. Until then, I hadnít known anyone who was confined to a wheelchair, or even anyone who had dated someone who was in a wheelchair, so I had no direct understanding of what either role would entail. It occurred to me during this un-packaging of my instinctive reaction just how many fears are a result of ignorance of the unknown.
The moment was an epiphany. It occurred to me that wars have started because of this sort of xenophobic reaction. Racism, homophobia, misogyny, anti-semitism ó †many of the worldís ugliest prejudices can result from an instinctive fear of the unknown. When we donít understand something we often create a mental scenario based on what we do know, and unfortunately it is almost invariably inaccurate. What I learned by spending time with him was that my pre-conceived notions were seriously skewed and unjustifiably negative. †Once I took the time to begin to see things from his perspective many of my preconceptions ó and fears ó melted away. The only solution to fear of the unknown is to learn to relate, to make an effort to understand life within the sphere of the unknown.
As with everything I write about, fear has huge implications for how you live your life and approach your business. Fear can be something that keeps you from moving forward, from being all that you can be. When you forgo an opportunity, remember, it just might have turned out to be something life changing, or something that you would have loved ó you just donít know. The key is determining whether your fear is borne out of a real danger, or if it is simply the result of apprehension in facing the unknown. In business growth, itís most likely the latter, not the former. Having a strategy to face fear and move through it can be a huge tool for success. Here are 5 suggestions that may help you get started: