Fear is not something to be feared. It is to be understood and leveraged so we can achieve our goals and experience our greatness.
Many people wish they had more courage which they equate to the absence of fear. Courage is not void of feeling fear. Courage is an ability of, while feeling the fear, judging that something else is more important than the fear and taking action in spite of it. The ability of courage, to move through, above, or beyond the feeling of fear, can be developed.
Fear is pretty much a normal human occurrence. The absence of it is some kind of brain damage.
Fear is usually generated through the perception of a perceived risk. I will borrow top podcaster and bestselling author Tim Ferriss’s definition of risk. He describes risk as – the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome.
To understand how to work with a fear and make it our ally, I want to lean on the world of goal setting.
In just about every goal-setting workshop or program, it is explained that a goal needs to be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant or realistic, and time-bound. The acronym for this is SMART. It’s dialing in the clarity and focus that are so powerful. What is not addressed in many goal setting workshops is fears and risks. Goals are all too often set in a vacuum. That would be great if we got to achieve our goals in that vacuum. The reality is we have to achieve our goals out in the world. Depending on the complexity of the goal setting program, maybe weaknesses and threats are identified as a result of doing what is called a SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats). Often this is overlooked, or best case just identified, but not thought through in how to overcome them.
The process for making our fear our ally is to spend a little focused time with it. It seems the part about fear that trips most people up is the light is never really shined on it and while it resides in the darkness it looms larger than life. Consider the quote by Seneca, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
Tim Ferriss refers to this process as Fear-Setting. It is how to shine the light on the fear to shrink the shadow and extract the gold to propel us to our goals. Take a SLICE at fear.
- S – Specifically identify and define a list of 10-20 worst things that can happen as a result of doing what we are fearing to do.
- L – List out all that we can do to prevent or decrease the likelihood of each of those happening.
- I – If the worst case occurs, what can we do to repair the damage? Or who could we ask for help?
- C – Consider what might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success.
- E – Evaluate the cost of inaction.
By going through this process, which only takes about 30 minutes, we will come to realize the risk(s) associated with our fears are most likely things we can handle and will not annihilate us because the worst case is reversible. If we never shine the light using the process above, most fears will stay in the annihilation column hiding out in the dark and continue to rule our inaction. If we do happen to find out after the process, the endeavor could lead to an irreversible negative outcome, then our answer is to refrain from the attempt. Be smart about it.
“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.” -Shakespeare
This week, let’s be valiant as we shine the light to make fear our ally and not the bully that suppresses our hopes, goals, and dreams.
Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!