I wonder, as we get sucked into the hugely commercial fiasco that is Halloween this evening, what you are scared of? I am scared of spiders, of upsetting or letting people down that I care about and I am not overly keen on small spaces if I am honest! Apparently we are born with only two innate fears – fear of falling and fear of loud sounds, everything else is our clever brains dreaming up stuff to make life even more complicated than it needs to be.
I am no psychologist, hypnotherapist or dragon slayer so I am not going to preach about the 10 Top Tips to Face your Fears and Succeed. However, what I do know, is fears hold us back, quite literally and appropriately in the case of a burning building or a precipice. It also holds us back with less positive outcomes in the case of difficult decisions, tough conversations or making changes in our lives.
When I set up Kili Consulting I did not have a plan B, the fear of letting my family down and consequently upsetting them at the most basic level was very real – “I’m sorry girls you are going to have to move schools because I can’t afford to send you there anymore”. First world problem I know – but still disaster to a 10 year old. I was ultimately able to take the step because my confidence was stronger than my fear, I didn’t have any secret formula for success or magic bullet, my naivety and self-belief won the day! If I knew then what I know now maybe I wouldn’t have been so sure, but I jumped anyway and the rest is history. I did agonise for a while though, I invested huge amounts of emotional energy in the decision and I remember vividly bursting into tears when I told Malc (who I was working for at the time). It seems ridiculous looking back, but that level of emotional effort was clearly significant enough to impact my behaviour, luckily for me, only tears, for others it can manifest itself in much more significant and harmful ways, ending with depression and worse.
So – if you are contemplating something and you are scared, whether it is a difficult decision, an awkward conversation or the confrontation of a personal brutal reality, the amount of emotional energy you invest has a consequence. Tim Ferris has stolen / developed / taken a march on the philosophy of Stoicism and created a tool or approach he calls ‘Fear Setting’ – a practical and logical approach to overcome self-paralysis and taking action. If I had this tool back in the day, the level of emotional effort I would have invested in the Kili decision would have been dramatically reduced. I would urge you to watch the video and reflect on where and how the tool can help you make progress and overcome fears that are holding you back. Somebody once said “fear kills more dreams than failure ever will”, I reckon they were right!