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:
1.† Think about your fear, dissect it, and try to determine if itís a fear of the unknown or a real danger. Personally I am not motivated to bungee jump, it feels like too much of a threat to my life and I am happy to forgo that experience. But if you establish your fear originates from uncertainty then that is a sign to explore it further.
2.† Learn about it. Do some research. What do other people say about this fear when they experience it? What are the pros and cons of tackling this fear? Letís say itís public speaking. What would the impact be on your career or life by focusing on this? Have you gotten positive feedback but are just scared to do it?† These can be signs that this is something you should push for.
3.† Ask a lot of questions. Find other people that have tackled whatever you have fear about and ask them how they approached it. What are the rules of the road? What are some tips, tricks etc.?
4.† Find someone to do it with you. When we resist doing something itís easy to let ourselves down. Itís much more difficult to let someone else down. When I am feeling less motivated to workout, I make a workout date. There is no question whether or not I will show up ó I will.
5.† Recall how it feels once you have tried conquering your fear. Most people will say that facing a fear is one of exhilaration. I know from personal experience that the things or activities that I fear and conquer end up being some of my proudest moments.
Some fears you know and can plan for. Others just pop up out of nowhere, like my dating scenario. What I have learned is that itís instinctive to run from the unknown. Thankfully my curiosity is stronger than my fear and I am learning that my fear can be an indicator for something new to explore.
This can also be a huge benefit in growing your business. Itís easy to get in a rut and stick to the strategies that you know. I am challenging myself to learn some new tactics and make them right for me. I challenge you to do the same. Use the New Year as a reason to stretch yourself, to attempt a new marketing strategy, to try a new activity that scares you. And if you need help getting motivated, or creating a new marketing paradigm, or strategy for business growth, call me. I am cooking up new and creative approaches and I would love to help you do the same. Business growth is fun and itís tied to your own growth. Join me!!