FEAR: Silent Assassin v's Guardian Angel

Fear gets a bad rep all the time… it is seen has the harbinger of all that goes wrong in life. We all have fears in some form or another and we are constantly told that fear holds us back from our dreams, that we should conquer our fear and all will be well!

However, did you know that fear actually plays a key role in our lives? Fear stops us from doing super crazy things like jumping into a lion’s den unarmed, swimming outside of a cage with a great white shark, teasing a spitting cobra, cuddling a tarantula. Have you ever fantasised about resigning from a job you hate in a truly dramatic way – like Steven Slater - the flight attendant who, in 2010, ended his 28 year career after losing his cool with a very troublesome passenger. When the flight landed at JFK airport, he shared his thoughts in a 4-letter tirade via the inflight speaker system, then swiped a beer from the flight trolley, pulled the lever which released the emergency chute and slid down with his beer in his hand. It cost him a heavy fine and hurt his future opportunities (in and out of the airline industry). Who would want to hire someone who behaves in such a volatile way? Don’t get me wrong, given the atrocious passenger behaviour that he had on that flight, it may be natural to lose your cool, however, in the work environment, there is a right way and a wrong way to react.

Fear helps us to reason whether our career fantasies are a good idea or not. They are our border guards making sure we don’t do anything too rash.  Equally, fear can give us that push that we need to complete something. For example, fear of career stagnation prompts us to push for that promotion or volunteer ourselves to run a project…or to do nothing.

That doesn’t mean that we should pardon fear or feel sorry for it. No, because when fear runs wild and takes control, then it becomes the silent assassin. Like a boa constrictor, winding round and round our soul and slowly tightening its grip, so that you don’t even notice there is a noose around you until it is so tight that it is limiting you.  It holds you back from progressing, from living life and we freeze and stagnate.

Fear is therefore not just a guardian angel or a silent assassin, it is BOTH. It switches between the two depending which one you allow it to be. The best way forward is to acknowledge its presence in your life and nurture it to your advantage.  It is not the existence of fear itself that should concern us, but more importantly, it is the AMOUNT of fear that we have in our lives and our relationship with fear. A small amount keeps us on our toes and too much chains us down.

So, what to do?

A) First of all, identify which fears are governing you (yes, we all have more than one type of
     fear). There are 7 key career fears:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of stagnation
  • Fear of instability
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Fear of expectation

B) Secondly, counter the fear. There are all sorts of ways that we can do this. It could be just a small change in your habits or you may need the guidance of a coach to break down the wall so you can transform and become empowered.

  • Educate yourself. Take a course, read articles, ask around – when you learn about something “unknown”, by default, it becomes “known” and therefore not so “scary”.
  • Exercise – It may be obvious I know, but a great workout releases endorphins which put us in a good mood, and empowers us. This gives us the oomph we may need to take action.
  • Join a networking group – Be surrounded by inspiring individuals. As my coach, JT Foxx, would say “Your network is your net worth”. If you want to increase your net worth then increase the quality of those who surround you.

C) Thirdly, STAY AWARE! Just like a well-trained assassin, fear can use other methods to attack if one method is no longer viable for them (i.e. you conquered it!)       

D) Fourthly, and most sustainably, make fear a friend of yours. Fear is often rooted in experiences and perceptions from our childhood so, IT continues to see you as a child.  Like a big brother, it protects you from harm but can easily be too overprotecting. When you allow your intuition to help you make decisions, fear relaxes and becomes a friend.

Fears are simply there to remind you to live fully, rediscover your purpose and carve new ways, paths and prisms to see the world and your life. It will hold you back until you are ready for the jump! It waits for you, nudging you forward until you have the knowledge and insight you need to quantum leap forward. Just like big bro, you need to also remind fear when you are “old” enough to make an informed decision. How do you know then, when its time to take action? Simple, INTUITION. Your intuition will guide you.

So, next time you wonder why you are not being considered for a project, role or promotion, ask yourself, was it because I didn’t speak up?, Did I not express my interest clearly enough?  Did I think that it was too big for me? Was there really an opportunity or did my fear stop me from raising my hand and opening my mouth to speak? Are you ready to stand up and show your value? If fear is still holding you back, ask yourself 3 things in each instance.

  1. Which fears are holding me back?
  2. Are they being an angel or an assassin?
  3. What am I going to do about it?