Conquering Fear

Successfully running a business involves conquering fear on a regular basis.  You may be self-confident, trim/fit/energetic, highly trained and educated, a natural for the job but this does not mean that you will be immune to fear when confronted with a business challenge. When we find ourselves outside our comfort zone or when there does not seem to be a clear, low-risk, path to success we are most vulnerable to fear.

We all have doubts about our ability, feel threatened about things we cannot control, become sensitive to criticism and meeting the high expectations of others just to name a few reasons why fear is present in our business lives.  Yes, even those who appear to be immune to such feelings experience fear but they have developed techniques and behavior to deal with it.

We all know leaders who are highly successful more likely due to their ability to conquer fear than their technical or management competence. They appear fearless but only as a result of keeping their fear in check, keeping it in perspective and converting it into an asset (winning) and not letting it turn circumstances into a negative (failure).

How do they do it?

Containment
Keep the “fearful” circumstance to no more than what they really are.  Do not dwell on the fear or let it overwhelm you to the point that you are not thinking with all of your faculties.  Letting fear overcome you to the point of paralysis will eliminate reasonable alternatives, which is what you should be searching for.
Get the Facts
Fear can originate due to what you do not know rather than what you do know.  Gather information and input so that you can keep things in perspective.  The more you know about something that challenges you the greater the chance that you will find a solution to deal with it in a manner that brings it under control.
Delegation
Reach out to others and seek their input and where possible involvement.  Do not assume that you need to solve this situation solely on your own abilities.  Isolating yourself can be your greatest fault when fear presents itself.
Humor
Appropriate use of humor can force a change in perspective that can lead to a new mental scenario that will help you reevaluate the situation in a more constructive and positive way.  This can give you the edge you need to turn away the fear and convert it to a positive situation rather than a negative one.
Process
Fear is more a function of the unknown and presence of uncertainty. Subjecting the object of fear to a reliable process of analysis and reduce it into its component parts which allows you to deal with it in a reasonable manner.  We sometime let an event become more significant than it really is and, when it is broken down, you realize you can deal with it successfully one step at a time. This reminds me of the old adage “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Don’t Take it Personally
If you feel fear do not take it personally as many are prone to do.  For leaders confronting and dealing with fear it is part of the job,  Get used to dealing with fear and build confidence by using various methods such as those above successfully to overcoming it.  Whatever is causing your fear will be there whether you deal with it or not so you might as well be the one to overcome it and grow from the experience.

Summary
As a leader your job description should include a statement that says, “Fear manager: Successfully encounters and deals with fear.”  Notice that it does not say “Does not have fear or is fearless.”   Don’t let fear shut you down or take you hostage.  Learn how to deal with it and help others in your organization deal with their fears.  The result will be a more productive and less stressful work life.

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