Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's not about the fear

Fear is something with which we all deal from time to time. It can be absolutely debilitating and immobilizing if we let it. Not one of us escapes its grip. But I really like what poet and novelist Audre Lorde had to say about fear: "When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Yes, it's not the fear that's important; it's the vision, the service you are offering that's key.

In fact, I heard something last week that also resonated: When fear does come calling, acknowledge it. Look it in the eye; do not ignore it. Fear is like a mischievous toddler and if ignored, will only act out even more to get your attention. So do acknowledge it. Tell the fear that you see it but that you're just fine, thank you very much. And just keep moving forward.

But here's the part I really liked about what I heard: Place your focus elsewhere and not on the fear. Find something in the dream or project or task you're pursuing or undertaking (and which is bringing up the fear in you) that can totally absorb you, that lightens your heart or engages your passion. Focus on that and not on the fear. It can shrink your fear down to a more manageable size. For example, some time ago when my fear grabbed me by the throat before a keynote talk I was to present, I greeted my fears and then shifted my focus to all the women to whom I would be speaking and the fact that each one would be coming with hopes, dreams and needs. I focused instead on wanting to inspire each woman and give her something she could take home that would motivate her. That didn't necessarily remove my fear—but it certainly made it manageable.

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