Pushing Through the Fears that Hold You Back

I came across a great quote yesterday:

“ When you commit, when you really put yourself forward and push through that fear, even though you can’t see through to the other side because it seems so overwhelming, things start to open up for you.” — Matt Pohlson, co-founder of Omaze

It’s part of a short video on Inc.com about dealing with fear. He shares his own experience of getting his MBA, turning down a lucrative offer from McKinsey, jumping into the unknown and starting his company.

The quote really struck me because I think we all get caught up in the fear of what’s on the other side. We get comfortable. Even if we don’t think what’s going on right now is the best, it’s what we know. When faced with the potential of a new situation, we often fill in the blanks with the downsides. We feel like we’ve had a level of success to this point so why mess with a good thing. Or we just don’t think of ourselves as risk takers.

Pohlson noted that we look at people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk and think of them as fearless innovators. Truth is, every game changer has fear. How do they – and how can you—push through it?

Four Steps

Here are four steps to help you deal with the fears that are holding you back:

1. Recognize the emotion. Fear is an emotion just like happiness, anger, frustration, or joy. Stop, breathe and recognize when you are feeling it.

2. Label the emotion. You have more control over an emotion if you can label it. When you label it, you’ve created a frame of reference to work with.

3. Own the emotion. Too often, we try to suppress negative emotions which allows them to have greater impact on us later. Instead, own the emotion. Tell yourself you are afraid and that it is a natural, normal feeling or emotion.

4. Decide how to move forward. Now that you’ve recognized it, labeled it and owned it, you have more control over what to do with that fear. You can put it in a place just like you would other emotions. You can control what you are going to do. As Pohlson, says, now you have the option to push through it and see what’s on the other side. You can reframe it and see the opportunity rather than the loss. You can decide that, the risk is too much for you, and you need to take a different route. Rather than allowing the fear to make the decision for you, the decision is up to you.

These techniques work whether you’re dealing with your reaction to a major organizational change, a personal life event, or a one-off challenge like giving a big speech in front of a new audience. Give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well it can work.