Overcoming my fear of fear

Jan 14, 2011 | Leadership

I did something this week that I have wanted to do for a very long time but was afraid to do.  I asked someone for whom I have a great deal of admiration and respect to mentor me.  This individual is someone I have supported professionally for several years, so asking for his support shouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  But in my mind, I made it into a big deal, and perceptions become reality when you allow them to even if they’re based on false assumptions.  I was pretty sure he’d say “yes” even before I asked, so what was stopping me from asking?  Fear.

What was I afraid of?

  • I was afraid to ask for help.  Wasn’t that somehow admitting a weakness?
  • I was afraid that he wouldn’t think as highly of me if he found out I have some knowledge gaps.
  • I was afraid that asking for his mentoring would put me in a position of accountability that I might not be able to live up to or that I was just scared of.  The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint him.  But why was I more worried about disappointing him than I was with potentially disappointing myself?

In the midst of this, I came across a blog post by John C. Maxwell, author and internationally recognized leadership expert, that I’d like to share with each of you entitled, “What are your fears keeping you from doing?”   I will highlight a few things here that were especially helpful to me as I faced my fear head on. I won’t include the entire post here; however, I strongly encourage you to click on the link and read it in its entirety.

  • The only way to deal with fear is to face it and overcome it. Dale Carnegie explained it this way: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
  • The fact is that most fear is not based on fact. Much of what we fear is based on a feeling.
  • One of our biggest misconceptions is that courage equals a lack of fear.  In actuality, the opposite is true. Mark Twain explained, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” By admitting our fear, we can then challenge its accuracy.
  • To do anything of value, we have to take risks. And with risk comes fear. If we accept it as the price of progress, then we can take appropriate risks that yield great reward.
  • Sometimes the best way to fight fear is to focus on our reason for confronting it. Is it bigger than the fear? The firefighter runs into the burning building not because he’s fearless, but because he has a calling that is more important than the fear.
  • The more we face our fears, the more capable we begin to feel, and the more fears we are willing to face.

What I realized as I evaluated what I was afraid of and what I needed to do to overcome my fears was this:  If I want to accomplish the lofty goals I have set for myself and professionally this year, I need a wise mentor to partner with me throughout the journey.  Failure because of inaction on my part was not an option. Asking for help would accelerate my learning curve and support my achieving success.  So I asked.  He said, “Yes.”  I was beyond excited!

Here’s what I learned going through this particular experience that I hope will help you confront your own fears and give them a swift kick out the door:

  1. Fear is not all bad.  The fear of not reaching my goals became greater than the fear of asking someone to help me.  Now that I’m on the other side of that fear, I realize it wasn’t that big of a deal after all.  And it has given me a new mindset from which to approach fear in the future.
  2. Fears only control you when you allow them to.  Once I asked, I couldn’t believe how excited I got…even before I knew what the answer would be.  The ironic part is I was pretty sure he’d say “yes” long before I asked.  I simply had to ask.
  3. NOT ASKING for help is a bigger weakness than asking for help.
  4. No matter who you are or what you know, there are times when you need help, and sometimes you have to ASK for it. Then you have to get out of your own way and allow someone to provide the help you need.
  5. Everyone is human. We all have our blind spots. When you surround yourself with the right people, acquire the right skills, gain new perspectives, and pursue new ideas, you set yourself up for unmeasured success. That’s why I’m so passionate about being here to support your administrative success!

The excitement and relief that comes from overcoming your fears is positively contagious. I highly recommend it!

So what are you going to do to confront and overcome one of your fears in the upcoming week?

© 2011 Julie Perrine International, LLC

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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.

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