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3 ways to use fear to your advantage

skydiving person over sea and land

Fear is an integral part of our lives. From a purely survivalist perspective, it stops us from doing things that could potentially harm or kill us, but it can also prevent us from pursuing our dreams and fulfilling our potential.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re familiar with fear—fear of plunging into the unknown, fear of not being able to pay your mortgage and support your family, and ultimately fear of failure. However, if everyone used these fears as reason not to try something, nothing great would ever happen. The key is to work with fear; transform its power into something you can use to excel and achieve the things you’ve set out in your mind.

Here are 3 ways to use fear to your advantage:

1. Use it to remind yourself who you don’t want to be

The thing that drives most success-minded people is not the money or public recognition, it’s the thought that they might one day look back on their life and have the terrible realisation that they didn’t do all they could to fulfil their potential. Whether through lack of motivation or self-belief, you didn’t grasp the opportunities that came your way and are left with myriad ‘what could have beens’.

The next time you feel fearful about taking on a challenge—whether it’s business-related or something like a marathon or cycle tour through the Alps—think about how you’ll feel years from now having not followed through. The future idea that you sold yourself short and didn’t experience something transformative because of some fear about the outcome—this is a very strong motivator.

2. Make commitments then be accountable to them

Being accountable to other people is a great way to leverage your fear. From being part of a peer group or regular group ride, to the commitments you make to a business partner and your family, openly stating your goals and taking the actions needed to show up and fulfil them will force you to face any fears you have.

A sure marker of success is to be constantly learning and improving. If you look back 10 years from now and you’re still pretty much the same person you were then, something is wrong. By outwardly sharing your intentions for now and the future, you’re forced to pursue your purpose because, if you don’t, you’ll be letting others down too. Sure, this takes discipline and resilience, but the alternative—that of a life half-lived—is far more painful.

POV of man standing on a glass platform on a high rise building, looking down.
Sometimes it’s better not to look before you leap...
Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

3. Remind yourself that most of the time it’s never as scary as you imagined

We’re great at living in our own minds and projecting our experiences into things that probably won’t happen or haven’t happened yet. We do this with both things we’re excited about and things that cause anxiety.

When it comes to something we’re scared of, we typically build it up and consider all sorts of scenarios to the point where we back away. The next time you’re faced with something daunting, remember the last time you were in a similar situation and felt the same trepidation—did you come out of it alive? Of course you did! Did you learn something profound about yourself, become more resilient and grow in some profound way? It’s highly likely.

If you have high levels of discipline, are prepared to put in the work and have a positive mindset—which is a given if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner—you have the resources to rebound from almost any situation, and you’ll be stronger and more prepared as a result.

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