In trying to understand this question of fear the first thing to consider is what is fear itself and why do we experience it? From my understanding it’s an unpleasant emotion we feel in reaction to a stimulus that we have encountered either as a surprise or something that has been building up over period of time. The purpose of an unpleasant emotion (fear) in its primitive form is to alert us to danger so we can protect our wellbeing.
I expect that in its primitive form in the early years of brain development it was evolved as a human condition to protect us against physical harm. But its fair to say that in our current way of life its job is to protect us from psychological harm, although we still do have circumstances where we can be physically hurt also.
But if we narrow our conversation to the fear in business, we can assume we are less likely to be harmed physically than we are psychologically.
Unlike a physical danger which could cause an emotional feeling of fear to many people at once…like a major storm bearing down on a city with likely impact of causing physical damage to property or even worse, is considered a real danger and the emotional fear would be warranted that a bad outcome might eventuate that is out of your control. But is our psychological fear real, or is it manufactured by the individuals psyche? If psychological fears were real, wouldn’t we all feel it in a given circumstances or situation where multiple people are exposed to the same stimulus?
My conclusion is that emotional reaction that causes fear is not real but merely and individuals’ reaction to a situation based on their psychological development.
I would argue that pretty much all nonphysical fear we face is not born out of any substance but purely a personal individual reaction to a stimulus from the outside or from our inner thought process. This adds weight to the acronym F.E.A.R False Evidence Appearing Real.
The starting point of any stress or anxiety is a fear of predicting a bad outcome for the circumstances you find yourself in. If it continuously repeats itself in your thought process, over a period of time stress develops.
So, what is the best way to deal with in business?
Before we get into that lets highlight the 3 core elements that that I believe drives fear in business.
- A lack of competence to do something, solve a problem or know what move to make next.
- A lack of control to know how this is going to turn out.
- Then the mother of all fear which is at the core of the 2 above is Judgement…. Judgement from others and worse, judgement from ourselves.
If you think about all the times you were fearful in business one of these 3 elements was most likely driving it with the fear of judgement the granddaddy of them all.
Here is what you need to know. Don’t try to suppress fear and pretend that it doesn’t exist, or you don’t ever feel it. Your brains evolutionary mechanics are too powerful for you not to get an emotional reaction in the form of fear from time to time.
And don’t believe that high performing people no matter what ever their field of endeavour is don’t experience fear. In fact one of the reasons high performers become high performers (just like you can) is that one of the their high performance habits is they show a high level of courage and it becomes one of their key virtues. Without fear there is no courage.
The point is not to suppress it but to learn to dance with it. Use it to help you get the outcome you want by displaying courage to overpower it.
All business leaders and leaders in general at some point feel inadequate of not being good enough to hold the position they have or not being able to deliver what everybody is expecting of them.
We describe this as imposter syndrome… this is a very real and common experience for all business owners and more so for the high performers because the expectation to perform is higher… Its part of the human condition. So, if you are feeling this from time to time then know you are not alone.
Famously Albert Einstein was quoted as saying..
“The exaggerated esteem in which my life work is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler”
At the root cause of imposter syndrome is the fear of being judged. When it comes to the fear of being judged here is the truth. The people that matter, won’t mind and the people that mind, don’t matter.
We need to stop worrying about the people that don’t matter as they are at the core of most of our fear in business and life in general.
So how do we dance with fear and not allow it to impact our thought process, reactions and ultimately our behaviours?
By narrowing down the focus what we can control is the starting point. A lot of fear in business comes from worrying about things that are out of our control.
When you do feel fear and your emotions around it are getting repetitive then stop and acknowledge it. Tell your brain that you are aware and you’re dealing with it. By naming it you being to defuse the fear. The protective warning center of your brain (amygdala) slows the job of warning you that danger is ahead. If you suppress it the amygdala gets louder.
One of the tools to use is the Temperament Control Spectrum. Imagine a scale along a horizontal line, at the right hand end is 0 (zero)…no emotion, and at the left hand end is 100 (one hundred) extreme high emotion. If that extreme high emotion is activated by fear you are not in a state to be functional of any kind, let alone as a business leader making decisions on something you are fearful of.
You need to defuse the situation and slow down the thought process to a range of emotion in the range of 40/60 on the spectrum. When you have arrived in this zone you are now well balanced to deal with the situation at hand.
Temperament control is probably the most important skill you can have as a business leader. We all know people that a highly strung and operate in the 85-100 zone most of the time. These people are always fearful of bad outcomes, always in a stress state, very judgmental on themselves and others and definitely don’t make good leaders.
Here is a quote from Warren Buffett which illustrates the point and his view on Temperament Control.
“Investing requires qualities of temperament way more than it requires qualities of intellect.”
Creating a strong Innergame operating system is ultimately the way to stay in control, reduce fear and build resilience and stay the majority of the time in the 40/60 zone. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel fear from time to time, but you will be well equipped to handle the challenge.
3 tips on the best way to conquer fear in business.
- Narrow the focus to what you can control
- Become operational and not emotional in dealing with fear by building a system and process
- Don’t focus on the outcome that you believe may cause judgement. Get skilled and focus on the next step you need to take.
These 3 points will take you on a path of alleviating fear, so it doesn’t hold you back from making the progress you want and minimising the stress that comes with it.
Fear is a distraction to resolving problems in business so the sooner you learn to find a place in the back of your mind for it, challenges will become easier to overcome.
The Most Trusted Business Mentor on the Innergame of Success.