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THE INC. LIFE

2 Simple Steps to Overcome the Fears That Are Holding You Back

Fear can stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. Discover how to find the courage to move forward to create the success and freedom you want.

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BY Gene Hammett - 10 Apr 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Looking back at my first business, I can say that I let fear stop me. It was 2005, and I had created a successful online business. I was traveling the world and had financial freedom. However, I wanted to create impact with my work. What was holding me back?

Well, it was me. Specifically, it was my fear of losing what I had already built. This is a classic case of being trapped by success. I also had a desire to do something more purposeful and fulfilling. After my son was born, I was horrified to think he would follow in my footsteps in the sports tour industry. I wasn't ashamed of what I did; I just wanted more for him.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back, now I can see it so clearly.

I made decisions based on practicality and comfort, growing my company incrementally using the same strategies that made me successful before. I kept it all going with the same approach, and it worked. I made more money and still had free time. But I did not go after the deeper achievement I longed for.

Is fear stopping you? If it were, would you admit it?

I know when I encountered these questions, my first response was always something other than acknowledging fear--a justification or an excuse. I would always have something else to blame.

Fear is sneaky. It's invisible. It lurks inside us with patience. It knows exactly what triggers us and causes us to question that next step, project or strategy. Your fear has an intimate knowledge of you and will do anything to get your attention.

There are two steps for overcoming fear:

The Internal Approach

Listen to the fear. Accept there is something to learn from it.

I have seen tremendous results working with clients on fear using the internal approach.

One way to make this work for you, is to have someone you trust help you with it. It can be a mentor. It can be a friend. Whatever the case, it should be someone who wants to support your growth and not someone who impedes the changes you are facing or considering.

These questions will give you insight to the true source of your fear and how you can understand your fears. Take time to reflect on them.

  • What are your fears? List them one by one.
  • Why are they here? Describe why each of these is a fear.
  • How can you understand this fear better?
  • What are you going to do with your new awareness of these fears?

The External Approach

There is tremendous value in taking a big goal to someone who is a few steps beyond where you are right now. For example, I am a coach, a speaker, and a writer. In every new endeavor I undertake, I reach out to someone who has walked a similar path. That's one reason I have a leadership podcast so I can interview amazing people who have done incredible work.

The results for me have been profound. In every case, I have been better off by talking through my ideas with someone else. My fears have washed away with just one conversation, or sometimes a few conversations for bigger moves.

I know this approach seems simple, and many people will say they have already done it. But I encourage you not to skip this if you still aren't sure about your next steps. Clarity is essential in overcoming the inertia that comes with fear.

In one my interviews on "Leaders in the Trenches," I spoke with an amazing entrepreneur that has faced all levels of fear to create a massively engaged audience and profitable business. Pat Flynn is the host of "Smart Passive Income" as well as other podcasts. He shared something that has stuck with me.

Pat said, "When something scares the heck out of me, it makes me think I should do that."

Pat shared his specific approach with me, including how he now seeks out experts who are doing what he wants to do before he does it. Here are some of the specific questions he uses:

  • Is it normal to feel like this?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • What are some tips that you have for me?
  • What books should I read?

Most of the fears you experience are created in your mind. They are not valid. You create them to feel safe, but they are not in fact needed for your survival. You make up stories that support your beliefs. And that type of fear is irrational.

Use the internal and external approaches to understand your fears so that you call upon your courage and take action anyway toward your greatness.

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