Why Fear is Your Friend

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Many times we think of fear as the enemy. But not this time, and here’s why.

This week, I’ve realized that fear is my friend.

What is it that frightens you? Typical answers for me include:

  1. Failure
  2. Feeling isolated
  3. “Drops of Jupiter” one more time, and of course
  4. Anything by Coldplay

Little werewolfAll kidding aside, I have realized that fear is my friend. If something is challenging, I tend to fear it – especially something that I really want to do… but I’m not sure if I can.

Sometimes that fear can be paralyzing, I think I might have an antidote. I mean, I could offer up some tough-guy explanation, but let me instead just be honest. The things that challenge me, the things that I need to do the most, are often the things that are the most frightening.

I mean, even success can be scary, if we are being honest.

I’ve decided that fear is not going to be an inhibitor for me.

Fear is not going to stop me. In fact, I’ve decided that fear is my friend.

When my friend calls, I answer. Typically, fear calls to me when I am faced with a new challenge. People often ask: do you feel fear before you speak to a group? And the answer is “YES” – I always hear from my friend before I speak. And my friend just gives me a warning, like good friends do, that I need to choose my words carefully.

Fear is my friend because it lets me know what’s important. Speaking to a group is a privilege, and an opportunity. I’ve watched so many butt-numbing speeches in meetings that I have made it my life’s mission to make sure you avoid numb-butt. Or something like that. (I’m an elevator pitch guy, not a poet. What can I say?)

For me, when I feel afraid of something, I use the “fill in the blank” method. For example: Public speaking is _______. How would you “fill in the blank”?

  1. “Deadly”
  2. “Something I avoid at all costs”
  3. “Always a disaster.”

I’ve discovered a new way of looking at things, thanks to my friend. For me, I reframe the fear and put something useful in the blank. For me, public speaking opportunity to help people to make real connections. Making a difference is important to me – even more important than my fear. I owe it to my audience (whether 1 or 1,000) to deliver the best possible message I can. Fear acts as my friend, reminding me to get my material together.

Yes, I could bomb/sink/tank on stage – but, I’ve died on stage many times before – and lived to tell the tale. I wish I could say I’ve never given a bad pitch, but, alas, experience is sometimes the best teacher.

I’m not afraid of getting better, so I’m not afraid to try.

This week, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of projects, many of which have made my friend show up with a quick reminder: success can be scary, so get prepared! I find that when I do my homework, my friend goes away. His work is done. Fear has helped me to know what I need to do. And, if something isn’t a little scary, it’s not worth doing.

What are some ways that you can make fear your friend?

What do you fear, when you really should embrace it? Doesn’t a little adrenaline let you know that something’s really worthwhile? Maybe you’re afraid of making that important connection. Whatever the case may be, remember this: When you make a real connection, you can make a real difference.

My friend taught me that.

Main image courtesy of ArunKamaraj. Werewolf courtesy of Kevin Lawver. Used under creative commons license, some rights reserved.

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