Show my wife a picture of a clown and she’s running for the hills. Fear of failure, fear of spiders, fear of public speaking, fear of flying – you name it - there are thousands of known fears and everyone is susceptible to some of them. Fear keeps most of us from living an amazing life. I know, I was the biggest sissy in the world until I almost died, then everything changed.
The lesson I learned is that the way we deal with fear is what shapes our lives, our happiness and our success. I want to hep you create a new relationship with fear.
Fear is the most powerful, yet least understood force that impacts our success, happiness and fulfillment. Fear has the biggest influence on our relationships and commitments. The realization that really blew me away is that fear can be turned into an unequalled performance-enhancing drug, but that takes time and practice.
The problem with adults in our society today is that they do their best to avoid fear, especially those of us over 30. I see it all the time – they know what scares them so they avoid even getting near it. I call that place your Fear Frontier™. It’s doing something you know will scare you. That action or event that creates a noticeable change in your mind and body – like walking to the edge of a cliff or holding a snake. Your palms get sweaty, you get butterflies in your stomach, and cotton balls appear in your mouth. The truth is that by avoiding your Fear Frontier™ you miss out on so much life has to offer. We often let fear cheat ourselves of an amazing existence.
Do you know who the happiest people in the world tend to be?
Cancer survivors. Many of you know I had a rare form of Leukemia twelve years ago and it nearly killed me. That was the catalyst for me completely changing my life. In fact I had a fear so paralyzing for more than 30 years that I missed out on what became one of my biggest passions in life – but that’s a story for another day.
When I got out of my extended stay at Johns Hopkins there were two realizations that hit me like a ton of bricks.
- I could die at any time.
- I’m alive
As simple as those two revelations seem, they filled me with a sense of gratitude and adventure that changed my life, and will hopefully inspire you to change yours.
I spent the next few years working on what I was passionate about (adventure and inspiring other people to find their adventurer within) and even more time figuring out how to make the perfect life for me and my family. Almost all of the catalysts for those two monumental shifts came down to learning to make friends with fear.
Here are the three ways you can make freinds with fear:
Scare yourself once a monthI’ve been telling this to anyone who will listen for the past five years. Getting friendly with fear, learning how your body reacts, recognizing where fear manifests iteslef physcially, forcing yourself to acti and practicing functioning past the Fear Frontier ™ are all what will open a whole new world for you. Like getting good at anything though you have to be consistent.
Humans have one primary faculty no other creature has and that’s the ability to think and project into the future. The problem is that most people project negatively – “If I start a business we might lose our house,” “If I learn to fly I might die like JFK Jr,” “If I ask her out she might say no and make me look like a loser.” All negative self-talk.
Self talk is one of the most powerful tools athletes use to create optimal performance. You can use it to change your life and relationship with fear just like Michael Phelps used it to win more Olymmpic medals than anyone. Practice saying “I got this,” “This will change my life,” “I deserve to live a passionate and successful life in a job that inspires me,” “If I move to Costa Rica my family will have an incredible journey and we’ll meet really cool people.” Come up with your goals and wants and pysch yourself into that positive state of mind with self-talk.
Change your heart beat
What do you think the difference is between what you feel when you are asked to stand in front of your whole company and talk about your latest project and what David Ortiz feels when he’s at the plate in the 9th inning of the World Series 7th Game? Neuroscience has proven there is only one primary difference.
Ortiz is using the fear response – that cocktail of adrenaline, DHEA, Cortisol and other changes in your physiology - to create super human performance because he can control his heart beat.
The difference between fear and ultimate performance, the difference between anger and focus, the difference between anxiety and being in the zone is sublimely subtle. It comes down to a coherent heartbeat.
A person in high state of fear or anxiety has a heartbeat that when seen on an EKG machine looks like the profile of a mountain range – jagged, irregular distance apart, varying peak heights, etc. The person using the fear response in your body to perform optimally has a heart beat on an EKG that looks like a smooth Sine Wave. The best way to control the heart into a smooth, coherent beat is learn to breath and control your heart. I use a breathing technique called the 4x4– breath in for a count of four seconds, hold it for four seconds then let it out slowly and comfortably. Repeat it at least four times more if you still aren’t doing it smoothly.
Fear, Passion and Adventure are linked
The reason you need to scare yourself once a month is to practice using self talk and creating a coherent heart beat. The more you practice the easier and more effective those techniques become.
You can do it and change your life, I promise. Start small. If you have a fear of public speaking – get up at your next dinner party and make a toast. If you don’t like snakes ask your kids to get a rubber snake and hide it around the house. Create little steps to get comfortable with the fear and then you can start to push through your Fear Frontier™ and live an exciting, passionate, and balanced life – you’ll have found your Adventurer Within once you make friends with fear.
PS - if you know someone who is afraid of anything - please share this with them!