Dr. Joe Serio is a Texas-based trainer to companies and government organizations who knows a thing or two about overcoming fear—he spent 10 years in the former Soviet Union investigating the Russian mafia and working with the KGB. He is author of Overcoming Fear: 50 Lessons on Being Bold and Living the Dream and shares with us 7 tips for finding the courage amidst fear in our everyday lives.
Fall in Texas means, among other things, football season and Formula 1 racing. The screams of the fans and the roar of the engines are exciting stuff. More than a few of us imagine being the quarterback or getting behind the wheel.
When I look at the field or the racetrack, I see a lot of people taking action in spite of whatever fear they may feel.
Think about the fun, learning or profit you have deprived yourself of over the years. Fear is the number one reason you hold yourself back.
How would your business, your relationships or your life be different if you didn’t get locked down in fear? Here’s a 7-Step Action Plan for dealing with fear.
Acknowledge your fear.
Say to yourself, “Yes, I am afraid.” This helps to reduce feelings of perfectionism or curb your procrastination. Your declaration doesn’t have to be broadcast to the world; say it to a friend or just say it to yourself.
Identify your fear.
Ask yourself what exactly is causing the fear. Is it fear of making a mistake or is it really fear of your perception of the consequences of making a mistake? It’s difficult to solve a problem when you don’t know what the real problem is.
Measure your fear.
Measure your fear on a scale of 1-10. Then, compare it to your fear of something worse. For example, years ago my fear of public speaking was 10+. But compared to getting eaten by hungry wolves, my fear of public speaking changed to 2 or 3, which made it much more manageable to face.
Imagine the worst-case scenario.
So often your perception of the worst-case scenario is worse than reality. As Mark Twain said, “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.” Clearly understand what’s at risk and if your fear is justified. With everyday decisions, your fear is often unjustified.
Gather information and support.
A great way to reduce fear is to talk with experienced people. They will bring some perspective and proportion to your interpretation of the situation. Chances are high that they, too, were afraid of the undertaking when they first started out. You can also read books and magazines, watch videos or go to groups that are active in your area of interest.
Consider your past success with change.
You’ve had countless successes in your life. From crawling to walking to learning to speak and on and on. Frequently, you forget that you’re powerful. If you need a reminder, set up a praise file of letters, emails or cards thanking you for doing a great job. When fear gets inside of you, open the file and remind yourself that you can do it.
Don’t forget to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be loud and obnoxious. You can simply give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done or share it with people who are closest to you. Often, we believe that our accomplishments have to be huge to be worthy of celebrating.
These steps will help you face your fear and get what you want.
Contributed by Dr. Joe Serio