I heard a very interesting conversation the other day with some very successful individuals, and the question was brought up “If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?” There were a variety of responses, but one of the top that stood out from me was about the ability to conquer fears or obstacles and take risks. As I thought about this topic, I looked back on my life so far and have realized that majority of the time, fear is a self-created internal emotion that is really meaningless. The great part about the human mind & body, is that we all possess the ability to overcome our fears. Here are a few tips that I’ve used over the years:
1. Recall your successes. We’ve all overcome countless obstacles to become the person you are today, whether it was learning to ride a bike, start a new business, ask that special someone on a date or tackle a new challenge such as going back to college. Anytime we look to conquer new experiences or challenges, they always feel a little scary at the beginning. But when you face your fears head on and take action, you build the foundation of confidence that grows exponentially with each fear you face. By doing this, you teach yourself that fear is something that is only internal, and we all have the ability to re-create the story that that we have told ourselves about our ability to overcome the mental roadblocks we have in place. Whether you realize it or not, we all have had some successes in life. The key is to identify those and build around those for your future achievement.
2. Choose a positive mental image. We all have images of which come to mind when thinking of the word “fear”. When we’re afraid, our minds are full of negative thoughts, images, sounds and even experiences from our past. The key here is when you are feeling afraid, lock onto the images in your head. Then choose to replace them with a positive image of your desired outcome. Think deeply about the experience and visualize you coming out successful on the other end. For example, if you’re afraid that starting your own business will end in bankruptcy and losing your house with all your peers laughing at your failure, instead picture your new business becoming wildly successful and buying a second vacation home on the ocean with all your friends coming over for a celebratory party! By controlling the image in our mind, we can internalize success and take action to overcome negative and fearful thoughts that are holding us back.
3. Focus on the physical sensations. We’ve all had the feelings come front and center: Sinking stomach, sweaty palms, tightening shoulders and elevated heart rate (no I’m not talking a heart attack, although it might feel like one). For me, this one comes to mind when I think of public speaking. I’ve found that by taking a moment to fix your mind on a physical state of calmness, success and confidence you re-align the body’s internal mechanics to a new state of being where you are in complete control of your physical & mental systems. It’s incredible the control that we gain over our body when we understand why we are having certain feelings of anxiety, stress and fear.
Fears, obstacles & taking risk come to light in many different forms for all of us throughout our lives. Recognize that YOU have the incredible opportunity to face obstacles and conquer your fear head on by pursing opportunities and experiences that are out of your comfort zone. The earlier you start to address what you are scared of and why it is an obstacle to your success, visualize the outcomes and take action, the more momentum you will create for yourself moving forward. Then when you address your life and reflect 20, 30 or even 40 years down the road, you can look back knowing that you overcame what was holding you back and achieved your full potential in business and life.