Guest Writer: Jordan Willing
It’s Monday, my first day of a new job, I walk through halls that I’ve never been in before looking at people who I have literally never met before. Awkward smile. A soft, “Hi, how are you doing?” No response. There’s a cold sweat building on my back and an overwhelming cloud rumbling in my neocortex. I’m literally alone in a building of hundreds of people. No one to turn to, no familiarity to fall back on. This isn’t a nightmare (I do have clothes on), it’s a part of life for millions of people every day, week, month, year. My fear of changing job situations was coalescing as a pit in my stomach and I was smiling to the point of laughing to myself. I was loving it. I’d like to spend a few words discussing this fear and how it should be used for motivation not stagnation.
Mike Tyson was famous for saying everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Coming from him this quote held a little extra impact (no pun intended). What people don’t know is that this quote actually came from his coach Cus D’Amato who was famous for not only training Tyson but for being somewhat of an old school sports psychologist and master of manipulation. He taught fighters to become the very best they could through mental strength more than anything else.
Here was his approach on fear:
You must understand fear so you can manipulate it. Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you: it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you are in the dark, and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you… Fear is a friend of exceptional people.
– Cus D’Amato
When making big decisions, whether personally or professionally there is a natural tendency to delay, to pause, to think, what if, to sit down, write out pro’s and con’s, talk to friends or family and ponder, is this the right decision? Fear. Like a fire, it starts small but too many times it burns through your self conscience and literally prevents you moving forward. You freeze. You stay where you are, continue with the habits and processes that brought you to this decision in the first place. It’s these times that Cus was talking about when exceptional people (all of us!) need to take that fear and convert it into energy. Don’t let it hurt you or even slow you down.
Steven Pressfield defines this fear as the Resistance. There is only one way to move past this resistance, clearly identify it and attack it, viciously with everything you have because if you don’t you won’t be able to fulfill your purpose.
“Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.”
- Steven Pressfield
One way of working through your fear is through “fear setting”. As Tim Ferriss clearly outlines in his blog & TEDtalk, take the action or decision you are struggling with, the change you are trying to make and start by writing it down. Define (at minimum) 10 of the worst things that can happen based on going down this path. Next, write down what you can do to prevent these things from happening while still going down the path. Next write down how you would repair the things that have happened in your worst case scenario. Flip the page over and write down the benefits of attempting this action or decision. What’s the minimum benefit of just starting down this path. Lastly, write down the cost of inaction. What will things look like in 6mo, 12 mo or longer if you continue down your current path without making this change. Now you have a comprehensive view of your fear and can clearly plan your path forward.
“What we most fear doing, asking, saying, these are very often exactly what we most need to do.” - Tim Ferriss
My challenge to you readers. Pick back up that decision you’ve been struggling with for a while now. You know the one. Moving homes, changing relationships, switching jobs, finally networking, applying for that promotion, starting that project at home or work. What’s holding you back? Find it, identify it, use it to push you towards action and let the first action be smashing your fear with a hammer.
I leave you with a quote from one of the greatest supporters of change in US history.
“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood - it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, TOO LATE.” - Martin Luther King Jr