Fear is a phenomenon that has been discussed widely by various thought-leaders and influencers over the years. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of the seven billion people living on this planet are constantly within its firm grip.
But why do people really fear trying out new things? Why do people tend to be resistant to change? Why are they uncomfortable with new processes? Why are they not receptive to new ideas that could make their lives a lot easier?
The answer to this is simple. Most people love to be sure, they love familiarity; and sticking with the same approach or method of doing something enables them to stay within their familiar zone — otherwise known as the comfort zone. This is a place where people are content with the processes they are currently experiencing, because the results are predictable.
A lot of people are afraid of taking action on their dreams for fear of finding out what might be possible. People have been found to be in a permanent state of inertia due to their fear of leaving their comfort zone for something potentially greater.
There are many constants in life and one of these is CHANGE.
Change is an inevitable phenomenon in life. However, people don’t tend to embrace this inevitable concept when it comes around, because as I mentioned earlier, their fear of the negative consequences of jumping onboard the ‘’changing ship’’ is greater than their optimism for the possibilities that might arise from such action.
The fear of the unknown has been known to cripple the ability of many to take action on their dreams. Since they aren’t one hundred percent sure of what their actions would lead to, they stay in the place where they are, they stick with the same methods they have been using for years, to the detriment of the outcomes that could have been possible had they been willing to change strategy.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve:
the fear of failure.”
— Paulo Coelho
There is an amazing story about fear that I found many years ago and recently rediscovered in my notes. I don’t know who the author is, but this story perfectly describes fear of the unknown.
Story about the black door:
The general had fallen upon a rather bizarre custom. He permitted the condemned person to make a choice. He could either face the firing squad or pass through the black door and face the unknown horrors. Not knowing what was behind the black door the spy imagined the worst imaginable torture.
Minutes before the execution, the general asked the frightened spy, “What have you chosen: the firing squad or the black door?”
This was not an easy question, and the prisoner hesitated, not knowing what was behind the black door, the spy told the general that he much preferred the firing squad. Not long afterwards, a volley of shots in the courtyard announced that the grim sentence had been fulfilled.
The general, staring at his boots, turned to his aide and said, “You see how it is with men; they will always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. And yet I gave him his choice.”
“What lies behind the black door?” asked the aide. “Freedom,” replied the general, “and I’ve known only a few men brave enough to take it.”
This old story about the black door carries two messages. The first message here is that we often choose the familiar over the unknown. If you ask even the most pessimistic or conservative of people why they aren’t changing their approach to a problem, and why they aren’t trying to find alternative means of achieving something, you will find that Fear of the unknown is their biggest enemy.
And the second message here is that few people are brave enough to choose freedom through trying new things. This is because security is addictive, and people sometimes settle for less as long as it is in their comfort zone.
Sometimes people are afraid of discovering what could be possible and so they refuse to take action. They are scared by the thought that if they were to finally write that book, it would be rejected by the market. On the other hand, the possibility they don’t consider is one of the book becoming a best seller.
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.”
They are scared that the business might fail if they start it, they don’t dwell on the possibility of the business being a hit. This pattern of thinking reinforces their actions, and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Fear is real. However, you must conquer the grip it has on your mind and body, because if you continue to utilize the same methods that haven’t worked for you over the years your outcome will always remain the same. You need to take actions towards your dreams.
Courage isn’t acting without fear. Courage is acting in spite of fear. If you don’t try to write that letter to the admission faculty because you fear you’re not good enough, then your answer is automatically no, but if you do send the letter, you have the possibility of getting a yes.
The same approach goes for the lady that you meet at school or through work and that you admire: you have the chance of getting a yes from her for a date if you talk to her about it. You could still get: “I am sorry, I have a boyfriend, so it won’t be fair to go out for a drink with you”. However, if you allow fear to cripple you, your answer which is “No” in your head right now will always remain that way.
If you are scared of starting that business, then start small. Start retailing those wonderful hand-crafted pieces of your friends and family, and grow from there. Or start helping somebody who already has more experience than you and learn from them in the process.
“No matter how slow you go; you are still lapping everybody on the couch.”
— Alex Morton
It is the possibility of a dream coming true that makes life interesting. However, if you remain in the comfort zone, you’ll realize after some years that you’re in the exact same place you were years back.
Take action. Conquer the fear of rejection.
Realize that when you fail in anything, you’re getting closer to the success that you dream of. When you are told NO, it takes you closer to the possibility of getting a YES.
The most successful inventions of today wouldn’t have been possible if people had not been willing to keep trying to find a way in spite of the numerous NOs they were getting.
Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers readily come to mind. Edison persevered more than 1000 times to find the perfect equation to conduct electricity, and his ground-breaking achievement which came as result of him venturing out of his comfort zone is still celebrated by all and sundry today.
The Wright brothers, who had a bicycle shop, built their airplanes with the resources they had, they had been out-funded 10,000 to 1 in the race to build the first airplane. Dr Langley’s team had the support of the government and a grant, yet the Wright brothers were able to discipline themselves to keep working in order to find a way to get an airplane flying.
On 17th of December, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft in history.
What do you do when those giants show up in your life? Do you put up your hands and surrender or do you take a deep breath and punch at it with everything you’ve got?
Your response to this shows the kind of person that you are, and whether you are entwined in the perpetual bondage of fear and security or not. Outline your dreams and goals, and pursue them daily with all you’ve got. You cannot achieve anything in this world without conquering your fears.
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just…start.” — Ijeoma Umebinyuo
F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’
The choice is yours!
Originally published at LinkedIn