Make Fear Your Ally

shutterstock_166081772I’d like to start this week’s post with a question:

What if fear didn’t exist?

Take just a moment to think about this.

What do you think? Would anything ever get done if we didn’t face some fears in our lives? I don’t think so. I believe any worthwhile goal must be hard and must generate some level of fear—otherwise, why would we set huge goals (business strategist Jim Collins calls them big, hairy, audacious goals) for ourselves?

We can find lots of reasons to be fearful these days. From what is going on in the world around us to problems at work and/or home, sources of fear abound. You’ve probably been told throughout your life not to be afraid of anything. Fear is often associated with weakness. Fear is for cowards, we’re told.

But, sometimes, fear is good.

One of my favorite subjects to write about is fear. Lots of other people write about fear too. You could find hundreds of self-improvement blogs that tell you fear is a bad thing. Others might say that fear stops people from pursuing their passions, so you must eliminate your fear in order to live your dream life. I could go on and on with what others say about fear, but that’s not the point of this post. I am here to tell you today that everyone who has ever told you not to be afraid of anything…is mistaken.

As many of you know, I’m training for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race—a race appropriately named “the race across the sky.” Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never participated in any bike race, let alone a mountain bike race at 10,000 feet. My first dip into the world of mountain bike racing came when I participated in the Leadville Silver Rush 50. You can read about my experience here. Driving home from that race, I could almost taste the fear I felt. Though I finished the Silver Rush, it was certainly not what I expected, and the whole experience made me realize just what a big deal the Leadville 100 is going to be—especially if I want to achieve my goal and finish it in under 12 hours.

You see, the Leadville 100 is a bit different from other races. Not everyone who finishes gets an award. In order to snag the prestigious, sought-after silver belt buckle, racers must finish the race in less than 12 hours. That’s my goal, and it was in the forefront of my mind as I drove away from the Silver Rush a few weeks ago.

After collecting myself and having a good night’s sleep, I got up the next day and continued on with my training plan.

But I could tell something was different. I could feel a new level of awareness. Guess where that came from? You got it—a healthy sense of fear.

Being a little afraid of my next race caused me to look ahead at the next four weeks of training with a new sense of urgency. I’m now pushing myself harder in my workouts, researching and experimenting with nutrition, practicing aerodynamics on my descents, and fine-tuning my bike and backpack to minimize weight and maximize efficiency.

My fear is pushing me to work harder, be better prepared, and have a stronger mindset for race day.

I want to encourage you to look at your own life and see if you can use some healthy fear to propel yourself forward to the achievement of your goals. Here are four things you can tell yourself to make fear your ally rather than your enemy:

1) Fear is a sign that I am doing something amazing!

Do you have a bucket list? If you do, I bet you’ve put some scary things on it. Why would we attempt to do scary things? It’s because we know these things will make our lives feel richer. When you feel afraid of your goals, remind yourself that you’re in pursuit of something amazing, something that will live far beyond the temporary pain you might experience along the way. Keep the amazing in sight.

2) Fear generates new possibilities for me!

When you feel afraid of something but then take that fear by the horns and conquer it, one step at a time, you lay the foundation for new possibilities. Courage begets courage. Whether it is starting a new job, running your first marathon, or some other challenge, the fear you feel can actually be the first inkling of some new—and pretty awesome—possibilities. Look for them, embrace them.

3) Fear gets me started!

What would motivate you to act during a frightening scenario? That’s right—fear. When we or those we love are threatened, we launch into action, our fear driving us forward. This drive, fueled by fear, can help any goal you have. We often forget that we have control over our own lives, over our choices each day. Let your fear push you forward to get started.

4) Fear promotes my freedom!

Fear ensures that you stay in the moment and allows you to capitalize on the excitement and power of this very minute. Even if you jump from your comfort zone for just a few seconds, embracing your fear, you will discover a new sense of freedom in your world. Jump.

Fear can be very powerful if used in the right way. So, what are you afraid of today?

Take a look at one of my favorite videos about fear:


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