—Guillaume Apollinaire, avant-garde French poet wrote
“Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, He said. They came, He pushed them, And they flew.”
How many times did you come close to your breakthrough moment only to turn back because you feared what could be possible for you?
Fear is a natural human emotion. We fear physical pain and avoid it. We fear the unknown and the lack of control it represents. We fear commitment, because it makes us vulnerable to rejection and failure. But in the end we often discover that our worst enemy is fear itself.
So we hesitate…in pursuing relationships…investing in business opportunities…and following through on visions and goals.
Except we know that fortunes are made when people chance it. Remarkable achievements come through acts of courage. And speculative risks gain windfalls from a leap of faith.
But how do you decide when to act or hold off? How do you know if your hesitation is because of fear or instinct? Where’s the line between courage and foolhardiness?
It begins with the realization that courage is not the absence of fear, but the determination to press on in spite of it. A vision backed by a well thought-out strategy and plan of action. Still, unless you act, nothing happens. So there’s a point of hesitation…a moment of resolution that hangs in the balance.
Although fear is often along for the ride, it need not drive your decisions. But how do you know whether to take a leap of faith or not? The answer is you can’t. Not completely anyway, because every risk carries a degree of uncertainty. But there are rules of thumb that will help.
So let’s consider three possibilities to keep fear from taking you hostage.
1. The fear is causing distraction, making focus difficult.
Distraction can take many disguises. The disguises may be self-talk that rattle your confidence with negative thoughts and cause emotional chaos, or something or someone prevents you from giving your full attention.
Take charge of the distraction, be focused on a single-defined purpose to achieve your desired result. This is your greatest asset in business and in life. Ask yourself two important questions: What are you paying attention to? What are the qualities of your attention?
There are two directions to focus your attention: outward and inward.
Outward attention is the attention on the keynote speaker, the golfer’s focus on the ball for a putt on the green, or giving your colleague full attention during a meeting.
Inward attention is where you go inside your head to think, strategize, visualize, and plan. This also is where you become aware of the quality of your state of mind, your self-talk, thoughts and feelings of self-assurance, anxiety, and joy.
2. The fear is due to a lack of tangible resources.
You have the will to succeed, but you are not fully committed to it, so you hesitate. In this case, you may need to increase your skills and abilities, refinance a loan, or strengthen an uncertain variable. Ask yourself if your fear is rooted in something that is reasonable or unreasonable? Is it immobilizing you to a point that it’s overpowering your desire? Do you require more experience or knowledge in a certain area to gain confidence that you will achieve the results you want?
3. The fear is coming from an intangible place.
You have a gut feeling that makes you uneasy although you can’t identify it exactly. As a general rule, follow your instincts because there’s a good chance they’re right. Consider putting things on hold to expand your awareness and seek different points of view. Think through past experiences where you have experienced similar situations. Be aggressively curious apply different approaches to a situation or activity.
At the risk sounding ‘cliche’, face the fear and do it anyway. Show your true grit, courage and mental toughness. The journey to overcome your fear may end up being the solution itself.
Copyright 2014 Jennifer Touma Mindscape