The week of December 10 was an emotional roller coaster for me.
I watched the 12/12/12 concert on Wednesday evening and was heartened to see so many celebrities giving their time to help people who really suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Two days later the Newtown school shooting happened. I was so depressed that I did very little but sit on my couch all weekend.
I had planned to blog about something I saw on the 12/12/12 concert – the t shirts worn by the young dancers during Roger Watters performance of “The Wall.” If you recall these shirts said “Fear Builds Walls.” And fear can be a life and career success killer.
The other day I picked up a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine when I was in the airline club.
The cover story was called “Face Down Your Fears.” Amy Cooper, Entrepreneur Editor in Chief had this to say in her column.
“It all boils down to this. When fear shows up and threatens your curiosity and enlightenment, look it square in the eye, acknowledge it, own it and move on. Don’t let fear hold you back from greatness. The greatest thing to fear about fear is the inaction that often accompanies it.”*
I agree. I have been telling my career success coaching clients for some time that procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear. I tell them that whenever they find themselves procrastinating to ask a simple question. “What am I afraid of here?” Once you have the answer to that question you can look your fear in the eye, acknowledge it, own it and do something about it.
Back to the 12/12/12 concert and the Fear Builds Walls t shirts.
Fear does build walls. It’s easy to fear something that is new or different to you; something out of your realm of experience. An easy – but unproductive — way to deal with that fear is to wall it off. Don’t interact with strangers because you might get hurt.
On the other hand, if you are open to new and different people and things, you won’t build those walls – and your world will become richer. I embrace new and different people, places and things. And you know what? My life is better for it. When I go someplace new, I always eat the local food. I’ve had some stuff I didn’t like very much, but I’ve also found new and interesting dishes and flavors.
When I encounter a new technology, I do my best to learn all I can about it.
I began blogging almost 10 years ago. I will be releasing a series of career success videos next year. This has helped my business. But more importantly, I’ve grown because I’ve learned something new. I must admit that I procrastinated on video. I finally asked myself that important question about fear and realized that I was afraid that I would do a poor job with video. Once I figured this out and chose to not let my fear of a new techology get in my way, I was free to jump wholeheartedly into producing videos – to share my passion for helping others succeed, and to help build my success coaching business.
When I am in a conversation and find myself thinking, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” I have trained myself to listen really hard – because those are the conversations where I am most likely to learn something. In other words, I embrace my fear of the unknown in the hopes that I will learn something. I don’t let my fear wall me in.
Recently I saw a movie called “The Other Son.”
It begins when two families, one Palestinian one Israeli, learn that their sons were switched at birth. An Israeli child was raised as a Palestinian, and a Palestinian child was raised was an Israeli. The mistake was discovered 20 years later when the boy raised as an Israeli attempts to enlist in the army. His blood type did not match that of his birth certificate.
The rest of the film explores how these two families work to overcome the walls – literal and figurative – that have led to so much mistrust and fear between Palestinians and Israelis. It’s a hopeful film that shows the power of breaking down the walls caused by fear and mistrust.
All of this brings me back to the Newtown shootings. The debate over gun control has intensified. One side fears that it is too easy to get guns and that unstable people will obtain them and carry out more tragic shootings. The other side fears that restricting citizen’s rights to own guns will lead to a loss of freedom and maybe even a totalitarian state.
The walls in this case are very high and thick.
If we can break down some of these walls, we may be able to reach a consensus that would avert more tragedies and not trample on people’s rights.
I know that this post is different from my usual posts on life and career success. But there is a success point here. Let me ask you a question. It’s the end of 2012. What did you hope to accomplish this year that you didn’t? Did fear play a part in holding you back from getting it done? If so, what will you do about it in 2013? I suggest you follow my four tips for dealing with fear. 1) Identify what you fear. 2) Admit to what you fear. 3) Embrace your fear. 4) Look your fears in the eye and conquer them. You can do it. I know you can. Don’t let your fears wall you off from the life and career success you deserve.
*Entrepreneur Magazine, page 14 of the November 2012 issue.