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Fear is Good?


This is part 3 on the conversation centered around Fear.  So far we’ve talked about how Fear is a choice.  The last part covered how Fear is contagious.  Today the focus is on how Fear can be good as well as bad and how to use it your advantage.

You can never really talk about Fear without mentioning fight or flight, in its psychological context.  A bear comes out of the woods barreling towards your family.  There are 2 choices – run to take cover OR choose to protect your children and spouse.  So which is it – fight or flight?

The bear example is probably pretty extreme when these posts are actually about not allowing fear to decrease your productivity, but it helps start the conversation.  For those who encounter a problem or setback, you can respond or react.  Reaction gives over to panic, confusion, avoidance and allows your vulnerabilities to come out.  Responding to your fears allows clarity and purpose to come forth, heightens your perceptions and awareness, and calls on you to step out of your comfort zone.  Which one do you choose?Whether it is about productivity or progress, response is a far better choice to make when fear comes along.  Anyone can react.  Animals do, especially when you take their food, invade their territory or strike them.  Responding allows trial (and perhaps error).  Responding allows discovery.  Responding allows you to harness your fears into a positive outcome. 

Best of all – how you respond to fear allows personal growth. 


Fear is Contagious

ContagiousThis is Part 2 on the conversation centered on Fear. The first part covered how Fear is a Choice. Taking things a step further, we’ll discuss how contagious fear can be. At least it can be. Much like misery, fear loves company. It gets fed by the masses. And it moves quickly if left unchecked.

When we watch the news, which story leads the newscast normally? It’s never the good stuff and rarely the acts of heroism. What sells is sensationalism and the negative the better. Fear and the story of fear is like a virus as it passes from one person to ten. Ever been employed at a company where a small rumor of takeover consumes the watercooler? Fear.

Fear left to its merry way will halt the future of any project, any promotion, and any marketing initiative. I used to have a boss who played the “What If” game and it killed every idea that anyone would come up with. We used to wonder how the guy ever got anything done due to his fatalistic imagination.

So we have firmly established how fear moves through people and causes panic, havoc and overall discomfort – so how do we stop it? Simple. Surround yourself with the right people. We all know the people in our lives who thrive on the drama, the gossip and the negative energies. At times they are entertaining. At times they are annoying. But make no mistake, they will drag you down. Literally.

A great sales person with a positive attitude fears little simply because they fill their mind with positivity. Daily emails sent to them from Zig Ziglar might help. Goals set for the week will help as well. But nothing can substitute a live person with the right attitude to keep fear at bay. It’s just the way it is. The right person can provide perspective, a unique angle, but most of all provide rationale to the equation.

(Thanks to RockStarVanity for the picture)

Fear IS a Choice


Fear grips people with what can best be described as a jolt.  Like a jolt of lightning.  We’ve all been there – you are sitting there at the conference table on Monday morning at the weekly meeting.  As you look around the room waiting for the boss to come in you notice that everyone brought the reports that had been assigned the week before.  The great lingering memories of a great weekend are suddenly erased and you feel that all too familiar tingle of electricity rip through the back of your neck.  Fear has you in its grip.  You’re paralyzed.  

It is fascinating at the psychological level how our mind can be our biggest nemesis and how it tricks us into imagining the very worst in situations.  Being fired, written up, demoralized in front of others are just a few of the thoughts that go racing through our minds.  With practice and a clear mind you must believe that fear is a choice.

Fear is a choice.  It feels good to say it, so one more time.  Fear IS a choice.  You can let your instincts take control and you can run to your happy place or you can ponder your situation and then determine the most rational choice at hand.  I’m not here to tell you those choices because there are all too many and just as many circumstances where fear enters the picture.  But what I am here to remind you is that you can buy into the hysteria that you normally purchase – then burn and crash.  Or you can choose to purchase the all new “Choice” now available in most stores and calmly mull over the best course of action.  It’s hardly as easy as buying a pair of shoes, but with practice of making the right choice life does get better.


Today’s post by Todd Henry at Accidental Creative is coincidentally on a related term to fear – Paranoia.  Like fear, paranoia is another choice and a destructive one at that.   Decide wisely at the next opportunity and you’ll soon discover when you choose to rebuke fear you will be much more able to accomplish much more (and come up with a great excuse that involves water, your 2 year old and crayon at the next Monday meeting). 


(Thanks to Orin Optiglot for the great picture) 

Conquering Fear


Fear.  It’s a frightening concept – literally.  It causes panic.  It causes anxiety.  It causes stress.  And it comes in many forms.   I recently talked to a friend of mine who’s ex-husband was causing her a great deal of fear.  During their marriage she encountered a lot of abuse – mostly mental and a bit physical.  She found the courage to leave the relationship and continue to raise her children.  The process of dealing with the fear in that relationship has still been a struggle.  Her self-esteem had fallen victim and was her own worst enemy.  Deciding after four years that enough was enough, she found the strength to confront the ex.  The outcome was insignificant but the victory was actually found in having the discussion itself.  You see she found out she was a new person and no longer a slave to his own insecurities that manifested itself in anger towards her.  She confronted her fears.  And now she can move on. 

 Fear in the workplace is not as dramatic as this scenario, but it can still take its toll on us.  We all have that “something” at work that we avoid, whether it be a project, person or task.  So, in the coming posts, I’ll be talking about fear and tying it into how we can conquer fear to be more productive.  It’s time to eliminate panic and confusion, stepping outside of your comfort zone, avoiding avoidance and reaching all the potential you have within you.

Tips for Zapping Butterflies while Speaking in Public

MicrophoneScott at www.lifehack.org posted this blog today.  This is always a timely need – avoiding the inevitable fear of speaking in front of tons of people.  You always hate it, but always end up having to do it.    Here is Scott’s post:  Everyone gets nervous before giving a speech. Unfortunately, the more people in the audience, the more important the speech usually is, making any butterflies in your stomach multiply before you begin. Knowing how to keep yourself calm can make a big difference when giving a speech.I’m not a world-famous speaker. I’m just an introvert who has managed to train himself to stay calm on stage. I’ve given quite a few speeches and presentations, so these tips are merely suggestions from my personal experience in trying to fight my own butterflies.For Your Next PresentationIf you’ve got a big presentation to do in the next few weeks, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to improve your speaking skill. At this point you just need to make sure you deliver the presentation to the best of your current ability. Nervousness can interfere with that delivery, so here is some advice for conquering your fears in the short-term:

  1. They won’t notice. I’ve listened to speeches where speakers told everyone how nervous they were. Until that moment, I had no idea they were nervous and I’m sure nobody else noticed either. Think of any nervousness you feel as being your private secret and most of the time it will be.
  2. Rehearse like a maniac. When I have an important presentation, I memorize the key sections word for word. I practice in front of a mirror several times before I go on stage. Rehearsal is extremely important because it will keep you from forgetting your lines in a panic.
  3. Unfreeze the audience with humor. If the situation allows it and you are funny in conversations, try starting with a joke or a bit of humor. If you can start the audience laughing before getting into more serious matters, that will dissolve much of your fright. I wouldn’t use humor if I didn’t feel comfortable with it, so don’t push the jokes if it doesn’t feel natural to do so.
  4. Look good. I’m certainly not going to become a male model overnight, but staying groomed and dressing somewhat more formally than the rest of the audience can do wonders to boost your confidence. Worrying about being underdressed or not having shaved that morning can make any stage fright worse.
  5. Scope out the environment. Come to your presentation room a day before and look around. Where will people be sitting? What potential problems might come up for speaking or displaying information? Be comfortable in the room you are about to speak in.
  6. Talk to the audience. If you don’t know your audience already, have a chat with a few members before you speak. This can give you a bit of extra familiarity with the audience by knowing you have a few acquaintances in the crowd of strangers.
  7. Memorize the sticky spots. During your rehearsal, there will probably be one or two places that you trip over. Reword and memorize these sections so they don’t drag you down during your final speech.
  8. Accept the fear, don’t fight it. The worst thing you can do when you’re nervous is to notice your own anxiety and start worrying about that too. Just accept any nervousness you feel just as you would accept that the carpet is blue or the walls are white. Trying to force yourself to calm down or hide signs of nervousness can backfire and make your problem worse.

For Your Future PresentationsIn the immediate future there isn’t much you can do to improve your speaking skill. But for presentations in the next weeks, months and years, there are many ways you can eliminate nervousness and increase your confidence. 

  1. Join Toastmasters.This organization has been really helpful for myself in improving my public speaking. Not only does it provide a supportive environment with friends, but it offers detailed and constructive advice to improve on.
  2. Practice the Art of Pauses. Your audience needs pauses. Speakers who speed-talk for an hour aren’t likely to leave an impact on their audience. Boosting your confidence starts by becoming comfortable leaving silence. When you’re nervous, your instinct will be to fill any dead air with words. Resisting that urge over the long run makes you a more confident and competent speaker.
  3. Avoid the Powerpoint Crutch. Most people use Powerpoint as a way of directing attention away from themselves and onto a screen. While it may be less frightening to have the audience stare at your poorly worded bullet points, it destroys your speeches and lowers your speaking ability. Training yourself to speak without a slideshow forces you to become more entertaining and confident as a speaker.
  4. Work on Posture and Body Language. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he points out studies where researchers discovered that moving their face into smiling or frowning positions actually made them feel differently. This has been reflected in other research and I believe it applies to your body language on stage. Adopting a confident stance and posture can take training to form as a habit, but it will eventually reduce your nervousness at the podium.
  5. Fail Often. I’ve made a few speeches that absolutely bombed. The jokes were met with silence and I didn’t get the results I intended. While you’d think these experiences would increase my nervousness, I’ve found doing them enough actually reduces it. When you realize that the worst that can happen isn’t that bad, it zaps your butterflies for good.