Fear is keeping you from being all you can be; it’s limiting your personal growth and development in many ways.
How do I know? I don’t, of course, but fear is so pervasive and powerful that it’s a safe bet those statements are as true for you as they are for me and millions of others. I’m making progress and you can, too. Maybe this story will inspire you to push through some of your fears and enjoy the growth that awaits you.
Several years ago at a workshop I was leading on goal setting we were discussing the importance of being able to see yourself having achieved the goal. I had indicated that this was an effective sign of a good goal. If you could see yourself having achieved it— even if you had no idea how it could be accomplished—that ability to visualize yourself with the goal already achieved was a good indicator that the goal could be achieved.
As I often do, I then provided a personal example. I enjoy putting on workshops, not so much the marketing of them, but leading workshops gets me excited. I mentioned that I could see myself giving workshops to large and small groups, even broadcasting workshop material over the radio, but not live TV. I just could not visualize myself on TV.
Someone in the audience piped up with, “I can see you on TV.” I was astonished and pleased, but that certainly didn’t assuage my fears about live TV. I still couldn’t see myself there.
Turn Your Fear into Courage
Fast forward to the present. I’ve been researching and writing about fear, specifically overcoming fear by transforming the fear into courage. Judith Orloff’s Emotional Freedom introduced me to that concept. Shortly after reading her book and writing Overcome Negative Emotion with Emotional Freedom, I attended a presentation by Robert Biswas-Diener, a positive psychology speaker, author, and coach.
Biswas-Diener provided even more information about courage, suggesting several interventions one could initiate to increase courage in the face of fear. I was interested and took notes with the intention of writing more on the topic.
The Universe Provides Opportunities
Then, as so often happens in the Universe, coincidentally I received an invitation to appear on a local TV show—a live TV show. I don’t believe in coincidences. These things have happened all too often to ignore. Here’s how it usually manifests: first I have the problem (fear of live TV), then I get a solution (how to turn the fear into courage), then I receive the opportunity to use it (an invitation to appear on live TV).
To me that’s a clear indication that the Universe is sending me an opportunity. I should “put up or shut up.” If I really believe what I’ve been writing, then I must put it to use myself.
Deep breath, re-read the invitation a couple of times, consider the opportunities if I can break through the fear, more deep breaths, pace the room thinking, re-read the email invitation and … accept it!
Now I’m committed. I can’t back down now. With some anxiety I prepare myself, and…
I did it! It was just a four minute guest appearance with the business owner sponsoring one of my workshops. You can view the video below. I actually enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
View the Video – Am I Nervous?
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How I Transformed my Fear to Courage
Here’s how I prepared myself. Biswas-Diener described courage as the difference between your fear and the willingness to act in spite of the fear. For example, military and law enforcement personnel are afraid when they face a combat situation, but they’ve been trained to act, so they do.
Biswas-Diener provided several interventions I could undertake to increase my willingness to act, thereby increasing my courage and decreasing my fear. Following are the interventions he recommended and how I applied them. I hope my example provides you with the courage you need to make great gains in your personal growth.
- Remove Uncertainty: This is probably the most important intervention in overcoming fear—reducing the unknowns of the situation you’re facing. Applying this, I recorded a week’s episodes of the show on which I’d be appearing. Watching these, I saw that the show’s host was very pleasant and supportive as she easily led her guests with questions and supportive comments. The guests were casually dressed small business people; this was not a power show, but a common-person show. I immediately felt more comfortable with the environment and could see myself there.
- Focus on Moral Components: To me, this intervention said to identify the value(s) involved and honor them. My value of integrity is important to me. If I can’t apply what I write about in my own life what does that say about my integrity? The topic of my appearance was a forthcoming Life Balance Workshop. Do I believe that my workshop is of value and beneficial to those seeking greater work/life balance? Of course, so integrity demands that I be willing to promote the workshop regardless of my fear of the venue.
- Self-regulation: Diener recommends countering the body’s natural responses to fear with deep breathing and meditation. In addition to that, I know that humor helps me overcome fear, so in our pre-show interactions with the host I made some humorous comments which relaxed me.
- Role Model: The business owner who would be appearing with me has appeared on this show before. She’s an unpretentious person with values consistent with mine, so if she can do it so can I.
- Long Term Focus: This was a matter of accepting that TV appearances would open up additional opportunities for my workshops while bringing me greater self-confidence and self-assurance. TV appearances also provide video clips for my website which helps people get to know me better.
- Exposure: Watching the week’s worth of recorded shows helped me see various situations on the show, further increasing my confidence and ability to see myself there.
- Talisman: Biswas-Diener suggested having a courage-inspiring talisman, an object or image from which you can draw courage when afraid. I didn’t utilize this suggestion, but I can see its value in some situations.
Courage is the willingness to act even when afraid. When you have an opportunity for personal growth but fear is blocking you, use these tips to build up your willingness to go forward. I’ve always found significant personal growth awaits when I overcome my fears and go forward.
What fear is holding you back? Will these tips help you gain the courage to overcome your fear?