Friday, March 27, 2009

The Month of Courage: Overcoming the Fear Factor

"There is an infinite quantity of confidence available in the universe- feel free to take all you like." -unknown

What is the one thing that terrifies you more than anything else in the world? What great things could you accomplish if fear was not holding you back? Why are you afraid?

Fear. Just hearing the word causes a visceral reaction. What are we so afraid of?

This past month has been the month of integrity, and I am confident in saying that the Month of Courage will be much more challenging. It is not easy to develop integrity, but at least we understand it. We know what it means to be honest, for the most part, though living honestly is a challenge. Courage is different. Both courage and fear are such abstract concepts that they can be hard to wrap our minds around.

For us to understand, and properly implement the month of courage we must eliminate the fear factor. The more you try something that terrifies you, the greater your capacity to beat with that fear. Here are a few pointers to help you overcome your fear, and set good goals for the month of Courage.

1. Sometimes it helps to scream. I used to love jumping off of cliffs in Lake Powell, Utah. When the cliffs were higher than 30 feet, it was impossible to convince myself logically to jump. But, if I screamed some goofy quote like, "the only thing to fear is fear itself" or "give me liberty or give me death" as I jumped, it would help me override my natural instincts. Our natural instincts are very powerful, but they are extremely outdated.

Think about the lest few thousand years of human existence. They have been filled with famine, war, and numerous other terrible threats to our lives. The vast majority of these threats have completely vanished. When you stand up to give a speech in front of a hundred people there is zero chance you are going to be mauled by a tiger, or harpooned by a rival hunting gang (although I don't know the actual statistics on that), yet your mind doesn't get that- it still sends you this fight or flight response. You need to scream (even if it is silently to yourself), and use that adrenaline to give you strength to override your fear.

2. Abandon irrational fears. As a society we have been programmed to fear all strangers. This becomes a huge liability for us. Say I am taking an elevator up to the 8th floor of my building, and there is a man in a suit standing next to me silently- why on earth should I be scared of this person? It makes no sense. I should not be afraid to strike up a conversation. So I speak to him. The same holds true with talking to strangers in almost any context, what is the worst that could happen? If you try and start a conversation with a stranger, or even someone you are hoping to meet, and it doesn't go anywhere, what have you lost? What did it cost you? This is the month of courage, so stop fearing strangers.

3. If we are prepared, we will not fear. Have you ever done a group project where one member of the group does not want to practice the presentation out loud? They make an excuse like, "I will be ready, I just don't like to practice in front of people." If they are too afraid to practice in front of their own group, how will they possibly be ready for the real thing? Practice out loud over and over again if you are making a presentation, sales pitch, or important call. Before I give a talk I practice out loud as many times as possible within 24 hours of the presentation. There is nothing that helps overcome our fear of speaking more than being prepared.

Hopefully this provides everybody with some good ideas for their April goals. Good luck, and I hope the Month of Courage can be a meaningful one!


  1. Hola adrian, no te he visto por msn messenger ni tampaco por facebook,ahorita estoy haciendo un blog en donde quiero poner mis comentarios .
    te amo amigo

  2. I always have big ideas and get my self over commited. I have done this again and find I get up every morning having sooo much to do. I tend to put off the hard things and waist time on the things that do not require that extra push. Talking to people and getting them to buy into this project is really importand but it is the hardest part. The part I keep putting off. My Goal is to do the hard tasks first. Make the calls first thing. i will let you know how it works out.

  3. I laughed sincerely on the scene with you and another silent person in the elevator to the 8th floor ".. why on earth should I be scared of this person? It makes no sense. I should not be afraid to strike up a conversation. So I speak to him." Just imagined myself taking the elevator and thinking about some matter of my own and the dude next to me suddenly strikes a conversation.. I may just want to politely disengage it and return to my mind... but, that again, why not strike a short conversation after all?! :)
    We could share something interesting, a short idea, impression or inspiration with each other and just share something along the way, like web 2.0 LIVE...!! lol :))

    And indeed, I completely agree with your understanding about the outdated instinctively- driven behavioral models that people follow very much all the time.. I am trying and doing to change this in myself and improve my relationships with others, by improving myself and my own.. psychological integration, for that's just what self-realization is all about!

    I.Auris :]
    p e a c e | In higher awareness

  4. Love the elevator scenario. A couple of years ago, my hubby and I made a decision to over come this social barrier. We make it a point to go out of our way to make friends with 3 new people, strangers, everyday. It is so much fun! It has also been a blast to watch this blossom with my children! My 2 year old knows I think 8 of our local store clerks by name, and they know her. What a great opportunity to break out of our shells and be a blessing to people.