The successful among us aren’t exempt from fear; they move past their fear. Typically one of three things enable them to do so: passion, challenge or emotional awareness. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
When asked if they experienced fear as they embarked upon their quest for success, the most successful are candid in admitting that at times the doubts and fears they experienced were so severe that they felt physically ill.
They follow up saying that it was their passion for what they wanted to do that enabled them to get past their fear. As they gained more experience, learned from the mistakes they made and adapted accordingly, their confidence grew and their fears abated…although they never went away completely.
Some successful people view their doubts and fears as a challenge…a way to test themselves, to see what they’re capable of achieving. They view challenges not as obstacles, but as ways to grow personally and professionally.
Their view of challenges as opportunities is what enables them to move past their fear and toward their goal. This perspective also enables them to deal more easily with the inevitable disappointments that accompany any quest, regardless of how great or small it is.
Other successful people possess a level of emotional awareness that view all emotions as messages…messages that they’ve learned to interpret correctly and adapt accordingly. They understand that fear’s message is: fear is forgetfulness.
In the moment of fear we forget that we’ve never failed to deal successfully with any situation we’ve faced. That doesn’t mean that we came up with a positive result on the first iteration or the second or even the fifth. Nor does it mean that we didn’t later discover an even better solution. That’s part of the learning that occurs with experience.
People who realize that fear is forgetfulness quickly remind themselves of situations they’ve faced in which they had no background or experience, yet produced a favorable result.
We’ve all known people who have faced terminal illness and become comfortable with their decision whether it was to fight the illness or focus on enjoying whatever time they had left. They made a choice that was right for them…a choice they made consciously and intentionally.
All three of these approaches enable you to move past fear. The question is “Which is the best for you?”
We are all of different temperaments, yet there is a commonality to our humanity that enables just a few options like the three outlined above to serve the vast majority of us. The key is to understand which has the greatest appeal to you given the situation you’re facing.
If you’re considering an opportunity that intrigues you, realize that passion is the primary determinate of success. The successful among us were all driven by passion. Indeed, the level of success each enjoyed was directly related to the level of passion they possessed.
One of the reasons that passion is so powerful is that when you pursue your passion, it’s fun. You invest incredible amounts of time and energy becoming exceptional during the pursuit of what you desire because it’s fun; there’s no work involved.
When you’re facing a situation not of your choosing, one that doesn’t trigger passion, the other alternatives will serve you better.
Some of you naturally enjoy a challenge so that option will produce better results for you. You view each and every situation as an opportunity to test yourself and you enjoy testing your limits. If you’re this kind of person by all means choose your natural disposition to enable you to move past fear.
If neither passion nor challenge fit the bill for you, you can always rely on emotional awareness. Even if you weren’t previously aware that fear is forgetfulness, now that you know it, you can employ this option to help you move past fear. All you have to do is recall the situations you’ve faced when you had no background or experience and how you dealt with them.
In his book, Rules For Radicals (opens in a new link), Saul Alinsky reminds us that we can’t judge prior acts with current knowledge. In other words, we shouldn’t regret earlier decisions because we’ve gained new knowledge since then. Instead, we should remember that the choice we made at that time was a good one based upon the information we had at the time.
For our kids
When you see kids hesitating because of their fear, share with them the three ways in which they can move past their fear. Let them know that even the most successful among us have doubts and fears. Don’t hesitate to share with them the fear you experienced and how you moved past it. They’ll feel more confident, comfortable and hopeful moving forward when they realize that fear is natural and readily overcome.
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