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5 Secrets to Overcoming Fear

March 31, 2021

“You’ll do great things… someday”

Does this sound familiar? All throughout school, you hear this. You get your first job right out of high school and all of a sudden, they want you to take initiative and creatively problem solve, and you’re not prepared. School teaches you to look for external validation, wanting you to seek 100% grade and have all the answers. We’re taught to seek the ‘right’ answer, so for those high achievers of us out there, not having the answer triggers an insecurity in us.  “If I don’t have the right answer, then I’m not smart enough to have the answer, then that means I’m not smart, and there goes my whole identity.  I’m nothing.”  Sound familiar?

The truth is – work and life aren’t about finding the ‘right’ answer. What is more important is knowing the most important questions.

You may be wondering why an article about overcoming fear starts so much with talking about this point.  High achievers’ often have the fear of not being good enough. They are afraid of not being perfect, holding themselves and others to a standard of perfection that isn’t achievable.  Sometimes that can result in good work being produced, but it also leads to a lot of fear and stress, and difficult work conditions and relationships.

"Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake" - Kelly McGonigal

Look at Stress Like a Potential Meeting

Prepare to be stressed. No, really. Do you know what is going to be stressing you out? If you know when you’re going to be stressed and what you’re going to be stressed about, look at this as an opportunity. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the lingering stress, change your relationship with it. Stress does not have to be bad.

“Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake.” Kelly McGonigal said this to mean that stress and meaning are linked. You can consider the stress accumulating inside you to mean that what you are doing has meaning to you. If you view stress as the arrival of something meaningful in your life, you can begin to change your relationship with it and change your physiological response to it.

"Hope is not a strategy"

Take Action

When looking at the students who have applied to our program, there are a few key differences between those who have been accepted and those who have been denied. While all applicants who have applied go on to do great things, they do them in different areas.

Applicants who are not accepted are very accomplished though in traditional academic settings, while the ones who are accepted have taken more entrepreneurial initiative.  This showed in how we analyzed the type of language the students used throughout their application activities.

The most common phrase used by those denied was “I want to,” often talking about what they want to do or what they haven’t yet done. They also talked in the past or future tense.

Hope is not a strategy. While hope is essential in helping with your vision, hope has no part in strategic planning. Hope can overinflate your optimism and downplay the conflicts.

The most common phrase for those entrepreneurial students who were accepted was “I am,” where they talked about what they’re doing now and the impact they’re making. What they wrote felt actionable.

Find ways to do things for you and not your resume.

drawing in a notebook

Build Internal Drive.

Build an internal drive that allows you to overcome and persevere in the face of challenges. Find your internal compass and purpose.

There is no clear metric for success. One metric of success might be profit, but profit is the air you breathe. You don’t get up every day saying you’re going to breathe today. Think: what am I getting up today for? Successful entrepreneurs work for a deeper purpose. All entrepreneurs have tough moments and think “is my purpose worth continuing.”

We are looking for proof that what we’re doing will or won’t work. We are always looking for more. While this can mean that we’re always looking for more like a promotion or an award, this can also mean that we’re always looking for a reason that it won’t work, looking for failure. With our foot always out the door, that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ultimately, your purpose will be the thing you want to continue working on through the ups and downs.  This will allow you to keep going when you have those moments of fear creep in asking if it’s all worth it.  You’ll know the answer is yes.

light bulb

Turn Problems Into Opportunities.

Entrepreneurs have an amazing capacity to take on fear. They have a different way to view fear and take action. They look at things differently and see problems as opportunities.

When you encounter a problem, accept the problem for what it is. The problem is there, and it’s best not to dwell on it. Instead, shift your focus onto what you can change. You could get mad or upset at the problem, but that will lead to less than desirable outcomes. Clear your mind and start a list of solutions and their outcomes. Every problem has an opportunity if you only look for it.

person on a mountain

Be Your Courageous Self.

The same questions get asked: “What is the key difference of successful people. What is it that allows entrepreneurs to be successful?”

The Key: Courage

Ask yourself “What would courageous me do?” Would a courageous you speak up and ask questions at your next meeting? Would courageous you not second-guess yourself after that meeting is over? The courageous you deserves those promotions, deserves those awards. Find your spotlight and be your courageous self.

 

These are the secrets of successful entrepreneurs. By changing your relationship with stress, taking action, building internal drive, turning problems into solutions, and being your courageous self, you can overcome the fear in your life. It’s time to take a page from the entrepreneur’s handbook.

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