Norton: Never let fear cheat us out of achieving our goals
She was invited to speak at her first women’s conference. Although Carolyn was excited about the opportunity to finally be invited to share her story, she was petrified of speaking in public. Without a real opportunity to speak that was immediately in front of her, she would dream about one day becoming a speaker. She could see herself on stage wowing the audience.
But now, it suddenly became very real for her, and with each passing day, her panic levels increased. She couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep, and she couldn’t focus on her full-time job. And sadly, a week before she was scheduled to speak, she backed out of the event.
Allen is in sales. Allen is having a very difficult beginning to his year as his numbers are way off. He has heard the word “no” so often already this year that he has developed a fear of asking the prospect for the business. Before each call he began thinking to himself, “This prospect will just say no, too.” He decided he would rather just not ask for the business, hoping they would ask him for an agreement, because he feared the word, “no.”
This became so bad for Allen that he actually stopped making prospecting calls as he was fearful that no one would take his calls. His email and social media reach out campaigns became informational without any calls to action as he was afraid no one would reply or he would be blocked. He shared that his biggest fear is losing his job for non-performance. Unfortunately, Allen is right, he is in danger and has been placed on a performance improvement plan.
Fear impacts us all in different ways. For some, the grip of fear becomes paralyzing. For others, they have learned to work through their fears, developing strategies and coping mechanisms to help overcome their fears in certain situations. And some of us face our fears head on. It’s not that the fear isn’t there, it’s just that they acknowledge their fear and summon the courage to deal with it in that moment. Still, there are others who say they have no fear, that they aren’t afraid of anything, and these are the folks who lie about other things, too.
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We all have fears, and that’s normal and OK. What we should strive to work toward is not letting our fears stop us from achieving our goals. We can never let our fears get in the way of who we want to be and what we want to do. When fear wins, we lose, and when we allow fear to cheat us from achieving our goals it’s a double loss.
Here are a few things that I have learned to lean into when I have felt fearful. First is that hope and fear are the same thing, a belief that something is going to happen in the future. So why not live with hope instead of fear, hoping that something good will happen and not anything bad? Second is turning fear into an acronym — F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. And lastly, the famous quote said by so many, but I will choose this version from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the realization that there is something more important than fear.”
Here’s the good news, Carolyn overcame her fear of public speaking by learning how to be overprepared with her content. She learned other helpful speaking tips from Toastmasters, and she is doing awesome. Allen not only survived his 90-day performance improvement plan, he is also back to focusing on doing his sales behaviors, following a sales process, and winning business. Fear for both is a thing of the past.
Are you holding on to any fears that are keeping you from achieving your goals? I would love to hear your hope and fear story at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we can never allow our fears to cheat us out of our goals and dreams, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.