When Tom Reiger, senior practice expert at Gallup, was called to help organizations struggling with different problems, his inquiry revealed one common issue. All of them had created thick internal barriers, built out of fear. Reiger suggests that individuals with power, and leaders, are the root cause of bringing fear into their workplaces.
Reducing the hold this strong emotion has on us takes time, but it is possible. In his book Million Dollar Habits, Brian Tracy talks about key habits of great business leaders. One of the habits: overcoming fear. He suggests turning ‘fear into fuel’.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Realize the role negative thinking plays in feeding your fears.
We have a tendency to get sucked into a narrative trap – interpret pieces of information as complete, coherent stories. And often these stories are fragments of fiction, born inside our brain, that cause much anxiety and stress.
Counter it by proactively managing your negative thoughts. Ask yourself what’s the best way to achieve something, as opposed to thinking what if you lose, or you cannot do it.
- Change the words you use.
Athlete Christie Jenkins suggests labeling your fear with lighter words, that have less emotional charge. Use hesitation, nervousness, or unease, instead of fear. How does that help? The labels you use can make you feel overpowered by emotions, or place you in control of them.
Lighter labels signal your brain about the behaviors, thought processes, and physical symptoms it should generate. Hence, the word ‘hesitation’ does not send the brain into fight or flight. But ‘panic’ or ‘fear’ does.
- Trick your brain.
Mel Robbins, motivational speaker, reveals how to trick your brain to convert fear into excitement. The physical symptoms of both these reactions are the same: sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, and frantic behavior. The only difference is what the brain is thinking, and that can be changed.
When you feel afraid to take an action, come up with an anchor thought – one that helps you maintain control. For example, think about a positive situation that would result from your action. Once you have that, use the ‘Five Second Rule’ – within 5 seconds, commit to starting or taking action in the next 5 mins. Fear giving your colleague feedback? Write your points in an email draft. Worried about speaking to your accountant? Initiate the call with a date and time. This way, you interrupt fear by limiting its influence.
Everyone faces fears. The difference is that some submit to it and some beat it. Which one will you be?