How to Reframe Your Fear and Let It Work for You

Do you ever get uneasy—or even afraid—when you’re close to achieving something big in your life? I do. In our recent relaunch of Platform University, for instance, we started with fewer responses than I anticipated.

How to Reframe Fear and Let It Work for You

Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/jacomstephens

I began estimating the results for the entire campaign based on those early results and didn’t like where things were going. I started messaging members of the team, asking questions, reworking our strategy, and adjusting our tactics. Almost immediately, the results began to improve.

Later that same morning, my daughter and Dean of Platform University, Megan, said something that made me laugh.

“Dad,” she said, “you should really schedule ‘Time to Panic’ on your calendar the morning of every launch. You’re going to do it anyway, so you might as well schedule it!” She was right, and there’s a big plus in recognizing the pattern.

I recently met a base jumper in Switzerland. He told me he feels almost unbearable fear every time he jumps. He’s consumed with it the moment his feet leave the mountain until his chute opens several seconds later. Why? Because he thinks, Maybe today’s the day my chute won’t open.

Despite that fear, however, he keeps jumping. He turns his fear into something constructive. I experience something similar every time I speak, write a book, or launch a product. When the feeling of fear hits me, I use this three-step process to transform panic into performance:

  1. Notice the feeling. Like Megan joked, this is one of those things you can practically put on the calendar. The truth is, I feel profound unease every time I do something important. But I don’t let that stop or slow me down. I recognize it for what it is—a normal part of the process. When I do that, I’m free to get past it. How?
  2. Objectify the feeling. When the feeling of fear first comes, I experience it down deep, like it’s actually part of me. But it’s not. And when I take the feeling from an internal, subjective experience to an external, objective fact, I can look at it, evaluate it, and put it into perspective.
  3. Reframe the feeling. I’ve given hundreds of speeches, but whenever I prepare to go on stage, I experience some level of fear. After years of practice, however, I’ve trained myself to process that feeling differently. When I begin to feel anxious, I tell myself, My body is just preparing itself for peak performance: I’m amped, alert, and ready for action. By reframing my emotion, I can turn what’s otherwise debilitating into something motivating.

If you ever freeze, seize, or cease to be your normally confident self in the midst of something major, I bet you’re wrestling the same enemy. The key is recognizing it for what it is and then using it to your advantage

Whenever we have the potential to do something important or extraordinary, we’ll be tempted to stay inside our comfort zone. But the truth is we never do anything of real significance in our comfort zone. The base jumper who listens to his fears is just another hiker who walks down the mountain.

It’s when we’re stretched, face our fears, and reframe them that we can reach out and touch greatness.

Question: What could happen in your life if you were brave in that one decisive moment when the fear made you want to quit? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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