Fear is a basic emotion. So basic in fact, that many people dismiss it as a valid form of information. In my observations of some of the most successful people on this planet, it is clear to me that they have established what I like to call a healthy relationship with fear. At one time or another you may have heard of a business deal on the news or in the course of a conversation that involved a very clever, intuitive or gutsy business move made by someone that left you wondering how anyone could be so brave, daring or even stupid! Its not that these people have conquered fear, or learned how to ignore itquite the contrary; they listen to it, learn from it, and move forward with sober decisions even though the fear may still be present. Well, maybe this doesnt happen all the time.but mostly my goal here is to demonstrate how fear can be a useful business tool.
First, lets establish that I am not talking about someone cowering, shivering in a corner in absolute terrornot THAT kind of fear. Im talking about more subtle fear that shows up as doubt, stubbornness, poor judgment, absent mindedness, procrastination, indecisiveness, self-doubt, lack of confidence, and the list goes on. These are the subtle ways that fearleft unchecked or misunderstoodmanifests its way into our lives and plays its part in our everyday actions. At this point you may be asking, How in the world can this be a useful tool? To understand this, we next need to talk about core fear versus mind-generated fear.
My very first sentence mentioned fear as a basic emotion. Then, in the second paragraph, I mentioned a variety of ways that fear can show up. This is the basic relationship between core fear and mind-generated fear. Fear as a basic emotion is what I like to call core fear. This means that it operates at an instinctual or sub-conscious level. This is the spine tingle, or hair raising on the back of your neck, or sudden freeze (usually accompanied by a gasp!) that you sometimes feel in the moment, long before your mind has a chance to think about it. Core fear has one purpose; self-preservation. It accomplishes this by causing you to snap-to or get present with your current situation or surroundings so that you can evaluate the next move or decision you are about to make. Thats itnothing moreit has served its purpose. Now, we being human, everything that happens after that is mind generated fear. Mind generated fear has a thought process, a rationale, a story, and sometimes it will last for minutes, hours, weeks or a lifetime. Mind generated fear is what keeps us from moving forward, learning, growing and living life to its fullest. It keeps us awake at night worrying, keeps us in a job we dont like, and worst of allit keeps us from doing things outside of our comfort zone. In short, mind generated fear takes our core fear reaction and spins it into a plethora of thoughts and reasoning that keep us from making sound, sober decisions or taking clear, purposeful actions. Mind generated fear is not to be completely ignored though. The rational thought process that goes on with mind generated fear also aids us in sorting out whats real and how to act appropriately. It is our own mind after all; we cant just ignore it, but we dont benefit from letting it get out of control and keeping us from doing some wonderful things either.
Now for the big momenthow do we turn fear into a useful business tool? Well, we already have during the course of this discussion. Successful people understand the relationship between core fear and mind-generated fear as we have just discussed. They understand how to pay attention to the intuitive or gut feeling and then use their mind to think out the best action to take, even if the mind is also throwing in some additional baggage that has the potential to hold them back. Learning to mediate this relationship is among the most important traits of successful people, whether its success in business or life in general. Form a good, solid relationship with fear; learn how to use it effectively throughout your life and watch yourself become what others refer to as fearless.
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