Many clients tell me about fears of many varieties. Some of my blog readers also write me about the fears they have. I hear about fear of success, fear of failure, fear of life in general. What all of these fears have in common is that they turn into a real fear of action. This can be a dangerous place if you seek to make improvements in your life.
Fear is a natural reaction, it happens to all of us. It is an innate protective mechanism in humans (fight or flight), but it goes into overdrive at times which is not healthy for our general well being and decision making process. I, like everyone else on our planet, have a lot of my own fears. But what I’ve learned is not to resist them. I look at them carefully and see what they mean. Then I seek evidence from the world around me that they can be conquered.
I look to people who have been there and have made it out to the other side. This week I found myself caught in fear. I looked back to the familiar words of the late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch. In his famous “Last Lecture” he spoke a lot about taking risks. He said, “Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams. Don’t bail.” If you want something bad enough you’ll find ways to get past the brick walls. However, if you give into your fears, you have created brick walls around your hopes, dreams, and ultimately, your potential in life. You need to find ways out of what you perceive as an obstacle; using faith and inspired action, you can push past a brick wall.
During an interview, two of Pausch’s students said the most important thing Pausch taught them was when you have a choice between a sure thing project and a riskier project where the outcome is not immediately clear always choose the riskier of the two. Why? You will get a bigger reward from a riskier move. And if you don’t you will certainly learn the most from the experience.
Pausch also emphasized that failure was always a learning experience. Failing or doing poorly at something is often the best motivation to move onto something greater that can become a success. It all comes down to how you choose to look at it. If you can detach from the outcome and just allow yourself to experience it, good or bad, you will always come out better for it. Fear won’t let you detach, that’s why you feel “stuck”. The more you detach from the outcome the freer you will feel to experiment, learn, and succeed.