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Change your relationship with fear


Idea Journal Weekly 3

February 6 · Issue #229 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: William James said, “Compared to what we ought to be, we’re only half awake.”
One reason we don’t meet our potential is fear. Fear of criticism, fear of failure—even fear of success.
An important step to changing your relationship with fear is realizing that you’re not alone. We’re all scared at some point. From there, you can alter your perspective of fear itself. This issue offers a few ideas to help.
(~3 min read)

#1. *Everyone* is afraid, you're not unique
Marketing maven Seth Godin writes on his blog that, “Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.”
Whenever you send an email, launch a product, or raise your hand you’re exposing yourself to criticism. And in some cases, more than criticism: the negative consequences of annoying an influential person or wasting money.
No wonder we’re all afraid to ship.
But do you really have a choice?
As Godin notes: “A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it’s certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.”
Since you’re going to ship anyway, why indulge your fear at all?
Godin illustrates the point with a running analogy.
In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. But the winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired … how to store it away until after the race is over.”
Of course she’s tired. Everyone is. 
But that’s not the point. The point is to run.
For Godin, the same is true for shipping: “Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?”
#2. Fear is natural, but be scared of the right thing
Entrepreneur Steve Sims writes in his book Bluefishing that while many so-called gurus and leaders say we should be fearless, that’s just not possible. 
If you’re human, you’ve been afraid: “It’s part of how we’re all made.”
As Sims notes, being scared is often useful.
“In a moment of fear, all of your senses are heightened and you work at 200 percent … you are hyper-focused.”
But of course fear has a downside. 
The problem is that many people will use fear as an excuse to not move forward.
Sims recommends that you alter your perspective of fear.
“Be fearful that in a month’s time, you will be in exactly the same place that you are in right now.”
Let’s say your house burns down, or you go bust, or you get screwed over and lose money. 
For Sims, “Those experiences can define you, or they can grow you.”
Many people dwell on the experience for too long, and use it as an excuse to stop.
But that’s when fear wins and you suffer.
After all: “Everything stagnant rots. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
#3. Use your fear as a compass
Author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers writes on his blog that you should use your fear as a guide. 
“Whatever scares you, go do it.”
Sivers has been using this rule for both small and big life decisions for over thirty years. 
For example, on the small end of the spectrum it could be the nervousness you feel when you’re scared to talk to someone intimidating. So, acknowledge that you’re scared and do it anyway.
Just go talk to them.
You can use the same approach with bigger decisions: from visiting a new country, to quitting your job, or starting a business. 
Whatever scares you, go do it.
After all, fear is just a form of excitement. 
And as Sivers points out, once you do something that previously scared you, you’re no longer scared of it. 
“As you go through life, doing everything that scares you, you fear less and less in the world.”
Quote of the week
“Your relationship with fear is the most important relationship in your life.”
- Fear expert and former professional skier Kristen Ulmer in an interview with Tim Ferriss
Idea Journal
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