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Stop believing your fears

As I walked my boys home from school last week, I felt something fly into the collar of my shirt, followed by a short, sharp pain on my neck.

I’d been stung.

When I touched my neck, a little stinger came away in my hand. 

That was fortunate for me, because when a honeybee stings you its stinger usually remains in your skin, pumping toxins for several minutes after the bee has died.

It doesn’t matter whether you flick off the stinger, scrape it off, or pinch it off, it’s only essential that you remove it quickly. 

Even a few seconds’ delay in debating how to remove it can lead to a lot more pain. 

When your clients are caught up in their fears, doubts and insecurities, make it your job to snap them out of it quickly.

Fears fester and doubts deepen, the longer you let them stay…

When a client says, “I’m scared…” try saying, “You don’t look scared…” 

It’s a pattern interrupt. 

Fear vs Anxiety

There are a few things that should scare us – such as hearing footsteps behind you on an empty street, smelling smoke in your house, or feeling an unexpected touch on your back.

Fear is an emotional reaction to a specific, real danger. It’s designed to prepare your body to run, or to fight. 

Fear makes your brain become hyper alert and your pupils dilate. It makes your breathing accelerate, your heart rate increase and your blood pressure rise. It floods your body with hormones and it makes blood drain quickly from your tummy to your limbs, in order for you to run.

When you’re afraid, your body takes over, with the singular focus to remove you from the danger. Your gaze narrows and you cannot focus on the bigger picture, or think clearly or creatively. You don’t need to. You need to get to safety. Period. 

Fear is a valid and valuable response to a real or potential danger. 

Anxiety and fear feel similar but anxiety is a feeling caused by imagining the possibility of something bad happening, rather than an immediate threat. Anxiety stems from your mind’s interpretation of possible dangers. It’s often a vague feeling of apprehension. 

My boss might fire me… I might run out of clients… The world is in chaos… The stock market might crash… My kids are late home… The client didn’t call me back…

The problem is that anxiety creates the exact same effects on your body as fear. 

Your brain becomes hyper alert, your breathing accelerates, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises. Your body is flooded with hormones and blood drains from your tummy to your limbs.

The fear response is designed to massively impact your body, to get you to safety, fast. But the anxiety response is very long lasting and can result in chest pain, dizziness, headaches, tension, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, an upset stomach and a feeling of tightness throughout the body, especially in your head, neck and jaw.

These effects can last a really long time and they can be self-reinforcing. The more your body feels anxiety, the more the fear response is triggered and the more anxiety you feel. 

Coaching past anxiety

When you’re coaching most clients they aren’t actually as scared as they think they are…

I was coaching a senior executive who was preparing for a high-level negotiation and I asked her, “Are you scared, or do you just think you should be scared?”

She looked a little confused and then a little surprised. She smiled as she slowly responded, “I just think I should be scared…”

I was talking to a coach who told me, “I want to raise my fees to $19,000 but I’m terrified…”

“You don’t look terrified.” I said. “Be careful with your language because we can speak our thoughts into existence.”

Here are some counterintuitive thoughts on fear:

  • Fear is often a sign that you are heading in the right direction… 
  • Your fears are often just an echo of the voices of your ancestors, trying to keep you safe. Worth paying attention to but you don’t have to take action based upon them. 
  • Fear is sometimes a sign that you’re not dreaming big enough! 
  • Fear often means you need to make a commitment to something bigger than yourself… 
  • Resisting fear creates complexity. When you’re afraid you fill your life with busywork. Anything to distract you from what you want to do that scares you. 
  • Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing what needs to be done, even though you feel afraid. 
  • Fear can lead to indecision. Stop waiting for confidence and take one small act of courage instead… 
  • Put action ahead of perfection. Perfectionism is often a mask for fear. Done but messy beats perfect but never finished

Snap your clients out of their fear-based thinking. 

Provoke them.

I’ll do it with YOU, right now…

  1. Who would you love to coach but you’re afraid to tell them? 

Let them know that a mentor of yours asked you who is the most fascinating person you know. Tell them they were the first person to come to mind – and ask them if they have a big mission where they’d like support right now… 

What are you afraid of? They’re currently not a client. The worst that happens is they remain not a client.

  1. That decision you’re wrestling with, write down the possible solutions on separate pieces of paper. Put them in a bowl. Commit to doing the first one you pick. 

Close your eyes and pick one. Now go do it. 

  1. That big project you have: tidying your office, writing a book, doing your taxes… Take one TINY step. 

File a single piece of paper. Write one sentence. Send one receipt to your bookkeeper. 

That bee sting hurt for just a few minutes because I pulled it out fast.

Fears fester and doubts deepen, the longer you let them stay… 

Create a pattern interrupt. 

Take a tiny step.

It will shift everything. 

Love. Rich


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