Living Fearfully vs. Fear-Fully
March 8, 2016
Take a moment to think back on the times in your career when you experienced fear.
If you are an on-air talent, how panic-stricken were you the first time you opened a microphone and spoke? For me, I was 16 years old and doing my first overnight shift at WPGC-AM in Washington, a frequency that had to power down to 50 watts at night, meaning the light bulbs in the studio operated with more juice than the transmitter. The fact that literally nobody could hear the station after 7pm did nothing to make me less afraid when I had to go on and deliver my first :60 newscast during syndicated programming. My hands were shaking so badly that I could barely read the stories in front of me.
What about your first major job interview? I gave J-Niice from B96 in Chicago an audition for his first full-time gig in Cleveland around 2004. He was so nervous that he could hardly get a fully formed thought out on the air (not that it mattered... I knew he was a star and hired him anyway).
My dad, Dan Mason 1.0, was scared to transition from Program Director into being a General Manager in San Antonio. He went from having to play "Bad Girls" by Donna Summer to negotiating all of the national advertising business with the biggest agencies in New York. The fear set in before he even picked up the phone to speak to them because he had absolutely no idea what he was doing.
And yet, every single one of these experiences were necessary for each person to achieve personal and professional growth.
The biggest lie in the self-development world is when people tell you to "Live Fearlessly." It's simply not possible. This isn't about psychology, it's about our biology.
Over the course of thousands of years of evolution, our brain has developed a higher capacity to process information. We have moved from communicating through primitive cave drawings to reading and comprehending long form content on websites such as this. Rather than speaking through grunts and single words, we developed an ability to talk in great detail about what we are experiencing.
Yet, what hasn't evolved are the little almond shaped clusters deep within our brain known as the amygdala. They control our decision making and our emotional responses. They trigger our "fight or flight" response whenever we face uncertainty, a biological necessity in the days when you left your cave and might be eaten by a bear.
And despite what some of our current Presidential candidates would have you believe, there are no cave bears waiting to eat you every day. There are very few "survival fears" that we should lose sleep over.
Sadly, our brain doesn't understand this. It triggers the same physical response when we are facing a life-threatening situation or just merely stepping out of our comfort zone. When we face the unknown, our brain assumes that the challenge will kill us, and we react accordingly.
We give up on chasing our dream job because we aren't sure it will "pay enough." We don't allow ourselves to pursue romantic relationships because we "might get hurt." We don't end up taking guitar lessons because we "might suck."
Change and growth can only happen by facing uncertainty, which is the exact thing your brain wants to avoid. So how do you make progress and move forward instead of staying stuck?
The first trick is in understanding that fear is completely normal and will never go away. Simply understanding that you have little control over your biology allows you the freedom to reframe how you think about fear and ask one simple question:
"Is the thing that is making me afraid going to kill me?"
SPOILER ALERT: The answer to this question is almost always "no." Pursuing your dream job won't cause you to die. Allowing yourself to fall in love won't kill you. Learning to play guitar or writing a book won't put you in a casket.
With this knowledge, you can stop living "fearfully" and start living "fear-FULLY." By treating fear as a compass that is pointing you in a direction to learn, love, and grow, you are taking a much more empowered approach to living life on your terms.
None of us are here to live a fearless life. We are here to live a courageous life. Stepping out to launch my own business has been the biggest risk I've ever taken. Not coincidentally, It's also been the most gratifying. What risk will you take? Leave a comment below and set your intention!
Do you feel ready to finally conquer your fear and commit to making a bold move in your career, relationship, or personal life? I'd love to help you on your path. I'm offering a FREE, 25-minute, Face Your Fear Clarity Session to the first 5 All Access Readers who contact me this week. Email email@example.com for more info.