Two New Ways to Look at Fear
You crave adventure but you’re afraid of traveling alone. You want to start your own corner coffee shop but you think you’re incapable of running your own business. It would appear that at the root of our inaction is fear.
As a child of war, I lived with fear more than most. I have also come to study it as ardently as any scholar fixated on a subject. After a time, two patterns emerged. One, I have consciously or subconsciously used fear to rationalize my remaining stuck. Two, I saw fear as the enemy that was preventing me from making my dreams come true. And since I was so convinced that fear was the enemy, I looked for ways to vanquish this great enemy. I looked for ways to build up my courage for a David & Goliath showdown.
Is this how you looked at fear? Then, you’ve been looking at it all wrong.
I like to introduce you to two new ways to look at fear. Fear as a respected adversary. And perhaps more radically, fear as a neutral source of energy.
1. Fear as a Respected Adversary
Fear is not to be rid of. It is not your enemy. It is more of an adversary. There is a difference between an enemy and an adversary. An enemy is bent to destroy you. An adversary engages you in a game you both love but wants the same thing you want. To win. In fact, a good adversary is one you respect. How can you play an interesting game without a skilled opponent? The greater your fear (or your opponent), the more it demands of your skill and courage. An adversary keeps you sharp.
2. Fear is simply energy
I developed my own philosophy on fear after reading Laird Hamilton’s book A Force Of Nature. For those of you not familiar with the author, Hamilton is credited with revolutionizing the world of surfing. He’s considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest athletes.
Hamilton views fear as something neutral, more of a useful energy rather than a destructive emotion: “Forget your emotions around fear for a second and look at the simple reality: it’s an energy source designed to increase performance.”
The trick is learning how to harness it. By mastering this technique, Hamilton said it helped him derive at peak performance. In fact, he went so far as to say that it gave him power.
“Adrenaline and the natural hormones your body create when you’re scared are more powerful than any drug. Once you start to understand fear, it becomes something you can tap into. In my experience, fear usually prompts me to make really good decisions. I’d even go so far as to say that it gives me power.”
If you ever played team sports, Hamilton’s point will truly hit home. Every time you compete in a game, wasn’t there a part of you that was afraid? I was afraid. Every. Time. But my excitement over the game and my need to win superseded my fear of my opponents. In order to succeed, your desire has to be greater than your fear.
In summary, fear is a necessary part of risk taking. Risk taking creates action. And if you have been stuck, action is the hard earned prize after playing a tough opponent in a great game.
- Being Present
- Getting Off the Couch
- Life Lessons from Sports
- Mental Clutter
- Overcoming Challenge
- Overcoming Sadness
- Positive Attitude
- Positive Self-Talk
- Taking Action