For those that follow me regularly on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I recently started with a new client. I’ve been around awhile and have experienced a lot in life. I went through Plebe Year at the Naval Academy, Flight Officer training at Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School (Officer and a Gentleman) and Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion (SERE) training. I’ve also been in corporate boardrooms, project war rooms and have been consulting for 10 years.
Although I obviously can handle stress and new environments, I found myself operating out of fear at my new client. Although I don’t think my client noticed, this is not a good place to be emotionally, as it can ruin your judgment. What about you? Have you ever needed to overcome fear and doubt?
Fear is a funny thing. It can creep up on you without you even noticing it. It sits quietly, just waiting for an opportunity to jump in and make your life miserable. Fear can be a good thing at times. It helps us from doing wild and crazy things, both in and out of work. Fear is a balance to recklessness. On the hand, it can also cloud your judgment and make you second guess yourself when you shouldn’t.
When you operate out of fear, you are not making sound decisions. When I day trade in stocks, fear makes good things look bad and bad things look good. Fear influences how you plan and react to situations. It changes your behavior. How many times can you remember, when you said or did something completely out of character… that was so completely idiotic? We’ve all been there. So how do you overcome fear?
First of all… don’t try to overcome fear itself. That is difficult. Trying to figure out why you’re afraid of something, can often just be a waste of time. What you need to focus on is:
- Realizing when you are fearful
- Controlling your reaction
- Making good decisions, in spite of the fear
Realizing When You Are Fearful – Fear has physical manifestations that you can easily realize. You may become hot or flushed. Your hands could begin to sweat, you heart start to pound. Your breathing may quicken or your stomach may turn. Fear may also manifest itself in other areas also. You may find yourself unable to sleep, constantly tired, or your body may have unusual aches and pains. These are all signs that you are fearful. Pay attention to your body.
Controlling Your Reaction – This is harder to do then the first step. The easiest way, although not always possible, is to remove yourself temporarily from the situation. If you have the luxury, excuse yourself and leave. It could be to the restroom, your office or perhaps even home. A word of caution here, if you do this too often, people will notice. But if the occasional situation comes up where you can do this without it being necessarily noticed, don’t be afraid to exit… stage right. Once removed from the situation, you can relax and refocus.
If you can’t leave, you can work on controlling your physical responses, which have a way of in turn, controlling your fear. There are a few things you can practice.
Deep Breathing: Become conscience of your breathing. Slow it down on purpose by holding your breath for an extra second and s-l-o-w-l-y exhale. Take deep slow breaths. Not so deep that people will give you a weird look. But a deeper and slower breath. Try inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth.
Slow Down Your Talking: When nervous or fearful, our mouths and tongues take on a mind of their own. Slow it down. If you are breathing deeper, make an effort to talk very slowly. Let each thought sit in your mind for just a moment before saying it.
Refocus: If you are fearful, refocus on something else in the room or in the situation. Look over someone’s shoulder, look out the window discreetly, or look at someone else. Again, if you do this too often, it will probably be noticed. But every now and then is ok.
Don’t Dwell on Fearful Thoughts: Many of the fears that most of us think about, never really materialize. In fact, research shows that most of them don’t. So, why waste time worrying and fretting over things that will more than likely never happen! Be conscious of what you think about, and redirect your thoughts to positive things when fear creeps in.
Making Good Decisions, In Spite of Fear – To make good decisions, you need to base them on something besides a feeling. Develop a process that helps take the emotions out of decision making. Don’t make decisions when you feel fearful. This will usually lead to disastrous results. Use a process such as Benjamin Franklin’s, where he developed a list of pros and cons before deciding on something.
Here is a short example:
- Make a table with criteria on the left
- Second column is a number 1 – 10. 10 being very important to you
- How one option (Seattle) compares for this criteria. 1 – 10
- Multiply last two columns
- How other option (El Paso) compares for this criteria 1 – 10
- Multiply last column by the second column
- Total up indicated columns.
- Higher number is the better choice.
|Criteria||Importance Factor||Job In Seattle Points|
|Seattle Weighted Score||Job In El Paso Points|
|El Paso Weighted Score|
|Things to do||7||9||63||4||28|
Don’t let fear control your life. You can over come it!
All the best!
All the time!
- How Do I Combat Fear? (kevinwmccarthy.com)
- Psychologist says fear of insignificance is driven by our global culture (dailymail.co.uk)
- Lifelong Challenge: Conquering Fear (dailyslackr.com)