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What Are You So Afraid Of? (How To Replace It With Courage)

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By their very nature, innovation and disruption can be excitingly fear-inducing.

The bold truth is we are all afraid of something. If your chest just puffed up and denials jostled forward in your mind as to why you are fearless, then experience has taught me that people who don’t have any fear are not trying hard enough to push their limits (or are sociopaths, no offence). Fear takes many forms in the corporate world, the most common being fear of failure (or success). Business is scary at times, and success comes down to how brave you can be in those moments when fear looms large.

Fear can be a dirty word, but it is also a consistent part of the big game. When you aim incredibly high, there must be a modicum of fear involved otherwise there is no risk. Issues arise in business and in life when we succumb to fear within our own minds. This manifests in playing small, not fully putting yourself or your business out there, or failing to dream big because your fear has limited you. Or perhaps your fear just nervously presented itself at a function, all sweaty palms and dry mouth, when you simply let an opportunity to network with an intimidating business leader pass you by because you didn’t walk up and introduce yourself (yes, insert your elevator pitch here).

Many people’s greatest fear is public speaking. As a keynote speaker whose first event was as the closing speaker for TEDx Sydney at the Opera House, I’m an expert on this common fear. I now speak professionally to companies like Facebook and Telstra about courage, inspiration and resilience. Yet I will freely admit to being scared to step onto that big stage. But I did it anyway.

The key to overcoming your fear is often simply to do it. No fanfare, just action & GSD.

It’s natural to have the desire to stay safe, but this often equals avoiding being scared by not actually doing the scary thing. Here is one thing I know for sure:

If you do nothing, nothing happens.

You miss opportunities, you plateau, you fail to grow.

That immobilising fear can be contagious within organisations. How brave are your people? You are who you surround yourself with. Who wants to be the baddest & bravest in their village? I want to be surrounded with the most courageous band of high achieving, guns blazing warriors around. Their normal is a benchmark you will be forced to find the courage to reach. That’s why I’m a Key Person of Influence.

To be a Key Person of Influence, you must learn to overcome your fear. An influencer is a person whom others respect, not someone who was scared to be a game-changing thought leader.

The more you practice overcoming your fears, the stronger your courage will become in the face of challenges.

Here are my 5 top tips on overcoming fear and replacing it with courage:

1) It only takes 10 seconds of courage

You don’t have to sign a contract to be brave for the rest of your life in every situation. Just muster enough for the first ten seconds and repeat as necessary. My 10 Seconds of Courage TEDx speech is a “how to guide” (with a crazy demonstration of fear vs courage at the end).

2) START!

Most people get stuck at the start line, paralysed by fear of what might happen. They let their fears run wild about the possibility of failing, public humiliation and disappointment. Instead focus your thoughts on flexing your courage muscles by your attempt and what success will feel like. Then just START!

3) Seek out a worthy opponent

If you’re going to face your fears, make it a worthwhile challenge that will help you grow.

4) Treat your fears as friends 

Give your fears a seat at the table where you can look them squarely in the eye. They’re scary when they lurk out in the back alley just waiting to ambush you. The more you shine a light on them and acknowledge them freely, then the more likely you are to overcome them – ultimately turning them into strengths.

5) Say yes

Only you control what is possible for you. All possibilities start with saying yes (especially when saying it scares you). Chances are nobody will die and the world won’t end if you decide to face your fears. So say yes and use your courage.

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