Shifting Gear: Fear as a Powerful Tool for Success
November 13, 2021
Ever wondered how it feels like to be sitting on the throne of success? You know it will not be easy, but you will do it anyway because you know for sure that the gain outweighs the loss once you succeed. But what if not? What if you fail? Are you excited, or are you more scared? If you are scared, then that’s perfect!
Perception of Fear
Fear is often taken negatively. It mostly goes along in a context that suggests horror, terror, and failure. Fear, if not recognized properly, can lead to inaction, and leave you on the floor, frozen. It is the one that sneaks to your bed turning into sleepless nights. When the brain is not getting adequate rest, it may result in a higher level of anxiety, and that makes you more worried about the unknown.
It starts to make you doubt your reality, your abilities, and yourself. These doubts could lead you to cancel engagements and dismiss opportunities that are being lined up to you. The worst thing that could happen, is when you decide to abort the mission of fulfilling your dreams. And when that dream is stalled, then you have just served yourself the exact same thing that you are being scared about: failure.
Being scared, especially when making a major shift in your life is completely normal. A recent study shows that leading economic nations are not being spared to feel this complex human emotion. In the proportion of entrepreneurs with the fear of failure, start-up entrepreneurs across wealthy nations: Australia, China, United Kingdom, Japan, United States and Germany takes up a significant percentage on the chart.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing that they are scared? At the end of the day, they are still the leading
nations and have been successful in holding up a greater portion of world trades and businesses.
Why Fear is Not exactly a Bad Thing
If being scared is the worst thing that could happen, then why do we line up or have to pay huge loads of money, and spend our time, just to see a horror movie? Or to take that crazy amusement park ride?
In the podcast episode of Grab Life By The Horns, titled “Whatever it Takes”, you will learn about the first hundred days of Jennifer and Jan-Marc on their life-changing venture. And how fear has been a key player in the set of cards played, especially by Jennifer, during this critical turnaround of their life.
Of course, you can always choose to stay in your comfort zone when you are at the point of your life that you are starting a family. Taking a risk could be the last thing that you want to do. But, why do you think Jennifer still pursue this dream although she was scared and in a state where emotions were high?
Fear is practically a tool that should push you forward rather than an obstacle that holds you back. This is simply a matter of knowing how to master your mental game.
Whenever you are caught up in a situation that triggers the response of fight or flight, it alerts our nervous system making our body prepare for danger by releasing chemicals that increase the heart rate and changes the blood flow. This whole thing is the biological and natural act of survival of our body to overcome the threat. “Fear is our survival response,” says Dr Zachary Sikora, PsyD, Northwestern Medicine.
You see that if we feel fear in an actual danger our brain will be more focused on how to survive. On the other hand, if we frighten ourselves in a familiar place like in adventure trails, roller coaster rides, or horror house setup, our brain can switch over to enjoying the ecstasy of being scared. Ironic as it may sound but fear can also be a form of pleasure. Either way, we can use fear to our advantage by looking at it as something fun and useful.
Why does being scared is a good sign?
The feeling of fear is a good way to determine how you set yourself apart from winners to losers. Winners do it while they are scared. Losers do not do it because they are scared. Winners embraced it while losers avoided it.
Whenever you have to do something for the very first time, you have the free will to actually do it or not. For example, getting a pixie cut when you have maintained long straight hair all your life. You have a choice to remain the same and not change anything about yourself. But why is the idea of getting a haircut persists in your mind? At first, the idea seems innocent. But when you start to feel scared of how will it turn out on you, then that is a good sign. That is a signal that you are considering taking the risk of cutting your hair short. Will it suit you or ruin you? You will never know until you ask the hairdresser to get you a pixie and look yourself in the mirror when it’s done.
Getting things done no matter how scared you are can give you a nice boost of self-esteem. It is the same case to any of your pursuits, whether it be quitting your 9-5 job and starting a business from scratch, ending a long-term but toxic relationship, migrating to another country, or simply just getting a tattoo. The sense of accomplishment rooted in overcoming a fear is unmatched as compared to completing a goal within your usual comfort zone.
Turning Fear into Power
Fear is a powerful emotional experience. You may forget what happened on your 14th birthday but not that one time you ran for your life from a wild, angry dog chase. A study suggests anything that triggers a strong reaction holds steady storage in your memory.
You do not want to forget what hurt you. Thus, it teaches you in one way or another, how to become more cautious and wise in different circumstances.
Here are ways to empower fear and use it to your advantage:
A. Take fear as a friend and not a stranger.
- Whenever fear comes in the way, you welcome it and acknowledge it.
- Do not try to avoid it but rather try to observe its behavior, that way you would know how to handle it.
- Let fear flow naturally.
B. Do not define failure as the opposite of success.
- Failure is your leverage to achieve better results.
- The opposite of success is inaction.
- Because if you tried and failed, you gained knowledge, your knowledge will be used as your weapon, so that when you try again, you have a higher chance of success.
- But if you haven’t tried at all then success will always stay far out of sight.
C. Be comfortable with discomfort.
- Always anticipate that you are bound to fail and be a sport about it.
- What could be more comfortable than already knowing that
“failure happens, but that’s okay. I have prepared for it with Plans B, C, D..”
D. You decide who holds the power of fear
- When I say empower the fear, do you think it is as:
1) Empowering the fear so that fear will have its power over you, or
2) It is YOU who empowers the fear, you are the one above it, and you understand that you are capable, unstoppable and fear is just one of your power tools to achieve your goal.
- If you chose the second, then we are on the same page.
E. Hold on to your own definition of success
- Don’t let anyone decide on how to measure your success
- Everyone has their unique way of defining success
- The key here is to focus on your own pace, without caring too much about the others.
- Be honest about yourself, do not deny that you will surely disappoint other people from time to time.
- But remember that you hold the power and does not let fear of what other people has to say, overwhelms you.
Let fear be as powerful as how you can turn to ride on a roller coaster going from screaming to laughing. You are supposed to feel fear because you are alive. It is necessary so can activate your body to do what you have to do.
As the movie line says, “When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump. Otherwise, you end up staying in the same place your whole life.”
You can shift fear into power when you: Embrace the fear. You empower it. You become it.