Be Afraid

SuccessWhen you look at a successful person you don’t imagine that fear is a problem for them. People who take risks and innovate, aren’t afraid. Fear is something entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders have done away with. Right?

Not really. The fear is always there and while some will say they have overcome their fear or pushed through their fear, what they’re really saying is, they have managed their fear, controlled it, and even used it to their advantage.

The question then becomes how? How do you manage fear?

Understand Fear

First you have to understand what the fear is telling you and why you’re afraid. No one is afraid of public speaking, they’reBe Afraid afraid they’ll look like a fool, stumble and stutter, mess up, that maybe they aren’t the expert people believe they are. I’m afraid of heights but I don’t get scared looking out the window of an airplane. What I’m really afraid of is falling, my fear of heights seems to be a lack of confidence in my ability to maintain balance. Take the onus off of me and I’m fine.

Direct Fear

The fear you feel is telling you how to manage it. If you’re afraid that you’ll stumble over words in a speech, then practice. Gather a group of friends or family and deliver your speech to them, if you stumble over any words, change them, if you lose track of where you are, focus. On a personal note I did this, I delivered a speech to just my wife and I was probably more nervous than when I was in front of the real audience because it felt stupid talking to one person like she was a larger group. That alone made me more comfortable when the real speech day arrived.

When I rock climb I direct my fear to checking and double checking my ropes, I concentrate and focus on the task of climbing, testing each foothold and handhold as I go. I breath and try to calm myself, gaining confidence in my preparation.

Manage Fear

Fear can be a good thing, a healthy fear, to keep you focused and motivated to do well or not to die. Overcoming fear seems risky to me because I might no longer respect the power and danger in a situation. I’m a strong swimmer, I don’t fear the water in the sense that I avoid it, but I do respect it as I enjoy its benefits.

Do it Anyway

Sometimes you aren’t given a choice and simply have to do something that scares you. I tell a story in What Next A Proactive Approach to Success about a job I was asked to do. When I started my job at ABC, I listed knowledge of a particular editing system called Avid on my resume. That listing was true but I had never edited a full news story on that system. When I was asked to edit a 20/20 special I got scared. My fear wasn’t of the editing it was of my ability to make the leap from basic editing to high end work.

I managed the situation by spending the weekend before the project was to begin, practicing, learning, remembering. When I began the project I was extremely motivated not to fail. I still felt uneasy but I did it anyway.

What techniques do you use to manage your fear? Please share below. Also take a moment to vote in the poll to the right – How do you see obstacles?

Posted in General, Leadership, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , by with 5 comments.


  • nancy boan says:

    Those comments really opened my eyes. A lot of people think I’m afraid of driving, but I’m really not….I actually love driving, but i’m afraid of getting lost (I have a poor sense of direction) I’m afraid of high speeds and high speed seems to be the way of travel today.

    It may be too late for me to overcome what I’ve lived with for so long, but having a window into exactly what ails me feels liberating in a way.

    Thanks AJ

  • Lainey says:

    “Do it anyway” – You’ll never know if you never try. 🙂

    • AJ says:

      Absolutely Lainey – you’re living it right now. Great! I say in my book “If you never ask What Next, the answer is always nothing.” Stay curious!

  • Essvari says:

    Wonderful article on the facets of ‘Fear’. Many don’t realise what they fear… your article helps clear their perceptions. I for one know what my fear is… yet the hesitancy I feel when I try to overcome it equals to moving the gargantuan mountain out of my driveway… with five minutes to spare…

    I simply overcome my fears by breaking it down into series of acts. Like when I need to meet a few people to discuss about my creative projects. I pay attention to calling them first. Then I draw out a fantastic presentation. I won’t make a connection to my actions and instead just focus on one step at a time. When I do finish the tasks. I look back and evaluate my actions and see where I can improve and what I’m good at. That way I don’t give much attention to my fears.

    • AJ says:

      Thank you Essvari! I really like your approach because it avoids projecting into the future. I think people get in trouble and begin to doubt themselves when they project an outcome too early. If they did as you do, concentrate on the things you can do now, in the present, they will look back and see what was and not what might have been. Thanks for keeping the conversation going.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *