The Secret to Overcoming Fear and Doing the Hard Stuff Anyway
You’re perched on the edge of a cliff, staring down at the abyss of fear. It’s a pivotal moment when you’re faced with a choice – do you step back, or do you take a daring leap of faith into the unknown? Overcoming fear and doing the hard stuff anyway is rarely easy, but it’s a choice that could change your life!
Today, we’ll explore the secrets to confronting your fears head-on, whether it’s asking a question, speaking your truth in a room full of peers, taking a bold step into the unknown, or challenging yourself in ways that keep you on edge.
If you’re ready to face your fears (or at least look them in the eye) to become a better, happier version of yourself, stay tuned for practical insights, real-life stories, and actionable strategies that will reshape your narrative, empower your decision-making, and guide you toward conquering your fears, both big and small.
Standing at the Edge
But, before we jump in, I want to share a bit about myself. My journey into coaching and development started when my dad, Harvey Schoof, launched his coaching and consulting practice. You could say I kind of grew up coaching! I spent the next 30 years learning from my dad, while also working in the corporate world of human resources (and raising my family). I practiced and applied the skills I was learning in coaching and development while assessing, evaluating, and hiring candidates and coaching employees, managers, and executives.
I’ve dabbled as an independent coach since 2008. In 2018, I co-wrote a book with my dad, Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head (see the link below). And late last year, I embarked full-time on this bold, brave, new adventure. I stood on the edge of that cliff myself and decided to use the expertise I’ve gained in the corporate world, to help leaders and business owners like you.
My own path to becoming an entrepreneur has required me to stretch my wings and leap. It involves conquering fears daily and doing things that feel incredibly exciting and daunting. I chose to leave the steady and known corporate world, to manage my own business. I’m learning to share my message in a variety of ways, which led me to create YouTube videos! Another thing that was way beyond my old comfort level. But I’ve never been one to say I don’t know how to do something (instead I say “I’ll google it!”). I believe that the more you do something, the more you learn. So, trust me when I say, I understand how challenging it can be to overcome and do the hard things anyway.
Fear as an Ally
You see, fear is a natural part of life. We all experience it, and it can manifest in various ways. But what’s important to remember is that fear is not the enemy; it’s a signal that something meaningful, something transformative, lies beyond your comfort zone.
Think about this for a moment. As my friend and colleague Traci Duez explains: you’re out with friends (you’re single) and you see someone you’re very attracted to … you may feel excitement and a bit of fear. Your brain is receiving a signal. You want to meet them, but what if they don’t want to meet you? You know, if you meet them, something good might happen. This meeting becomes both important and terrifying. You see, fear can actually be a sign that you should move toward something, rather than run away from it. This shift in your perspective alone, can make a big difference in how you think about fear.
Decoding the Science
Let’s start with the science of fear. When we encounter something challenging or unfamiliar, our brain’s amygdala, that little almond-shaped structure, signals a “fight, flight, or freeze” response. It’s a primitive system, designed to keep us safe from harm. But in our modern lives, this response can sometimes hold us back, preventing us from taking the necessary risks to grow and succeed.
So while we’re not experiencing an actual threat in our environment, like a saber-tooth tiger that’s stalking us, our brains don’t know the difference between real and perceived danger. What’s fascinating to realize is that our brains are wired to perceive unfamiliar situations as threats. This is rooted in our evolutionary history when the unfamiliar often equaled danger. So now – or still, every time you think about stepping out of your comfort zone, much like standing on the edge of an imaginary cliff, your brain may sound the alarm bells, and you feel fear.
Fear’s Positive Impact
Now, let’s shift to what research has shown about doing hard things despite our fear. Studies have consistently revealed that the most significant growth occurs when we push through our fears. In fact, it’s often fear itself that signals an opportunity for substantial development.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The magic happens outside your comfort zone”? That’s not just a catchy saying; it’s backed by science. Researchers have found that facing our fears leads to increased self-confidence, expanded skill sets, and a deeper sense of purpose.
Resilience: A Strengthening Muscle
As I explored this topic, I was curious about the benefits of overcoming fear. I wondered if facing our fears could help us become more resilient. What I learned is that resilience is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Every time you tackle fear and do something hard, you’re flexing that resilience muscle, making it more robust and capable.
When you face your fears and persevere, you build the emotional and mental fortitude to handle future challenges with greater ease. So, yes, it turns out that resilience is a beautiful byproduct of doing hard things anyway.
And in the words of Brendon Burchard, a renowned personal development expert, he once said, “The more you experience the emotion of fear, the less you fear the experience”. His words remind us that facing our fears is a journey, and the more we confront them, the less power they hold over us. This insight encourages us to embrace fear and consider it a stepping stone towards our goals.
The Secrets to Overcoming Fear
Now, for the practical side of things. Let’s explore five secrets to help you overcome fear:
- Acknowledge and Embrace Your Fear: The first step in overcoming fear, is to recognize it and accept it as a natural part of your journey. Don’t try to suppress it; instead, make friends with it.
- Break It Down: Big challenges can be overwhelming. Break your challenge into smaller, manageable steps. This not only makes a goal or task seem less intimidating but also provides a clear roadmap to follow.
- Hire an Expert or Seek Support: Don’t expect that you will be good at everything. Hire an expert for things you don’t know how to do, but still need done (like doing your taxes or fixing your car!). And lean on your support network. Whether it’s friends, family, or mentors, or a self-leadership development coach, having someone by your side can make all the difference.
- Visualize Success: Remember a time when overcoming fear or facing a difficult challenge worked out well for you. Think about how good you felt about yourself for facing your fear or challenge and persevered. This can help reframe your perspective and shift your focus from fear to motivation.
Spend time visualizing yourself living your new life, as if it’s already happened. This will help you shift your energy and manifest a life you love living.
- Take the First Step: Often, the hardest part is getting started. So, don’t get stuck in your head, waiting for the fear to disappear. Take that first step! Messy action is better than no action at all. You’ll find that the fear diminishes as you move forward.
Facing your fears is a transformative journey. Every significant accomplishment starts with a small step outside your comfort zone. If overcoming fear has been holding you back, maybe it’s time to do the hard stuff anyway. Reach out, I’m here to support you on this journey, helping you confront fear, and build resilience, so you can start Living a Richer Life.
Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Partner Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. She has coached hundreds of people from a range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. Kristin trains and coaches executives, leaders, and individuals in Valuegenic Self-Leadership. This powerful development program will help you tame your limiting thoughts to master your mindset for more confidence, clarity, impact, and meaning, so you can start Living a Richer Life.