Fear is probably the chief inhibitor of great performance. It shows up in many ways for a wide variety of reasons. There are two important things to know about fear: (1) It can be an appropriate response to a threatening environment, and (2) It narrows your options, focuses your actions and inhibits both possibilities and innovation.
First of all, when fear strikes, you don’t necessarily want to remove it. There are good reasons fear is built into our neurobiology. It has helped us survive untold threats. If you are afraid and it is appropriate response to a threatening situation, you must by all means operate with care and secure your safety.
However, sometimes fear pops up when it is not helpful. The pit in your stomach and the strain in your mind will constrict your options and make it difficult to operate with the effectiveness you need. In these instances it is good to have some strategies to free yourself up so you can be at your best.
It is not unusual for high-performers to push their limits and find themselves in the deep end in the pool on a regular basis. And they are not likely to change this behavior because, by definition, they push the boundary.
When this happens, have some strategies in your pocket:
– Call a confidant, someone you trust. Have a few close friendships always at the ready.
– Physical exertion can be helpful. Go to the gym. Take a brisk walk or run. Get those endorphins in service!
– Go inside and remind yourself of what is most important. This might be prayer or meditation. Place yourself in service.
– Remind yourself of your motivation. You have both responsibility and intent. They can each provide refuge.
And my advice: learn to operate with some fear present. If you’re going to live on the edge, get used to the exhilaration of the view!
Fear is not the end of the world. In fact, I have found it to be the beginning of the next world, where I operate at peak level and keep going when the stakes are high. That is sometimes where the greatest rewards are.
“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”
– Mario Andretti