Using fear to your advantage is one of the most powerful success forces on earth.
All big dreamers have fear. None of us are so lucky to be entirely immune to it. Some dreamers choose to be consumed by their fears, while others want to embrace them, befriend them, and harness them to fuel their dreams.
The difference between the two is the former end up living an incomplete life of guilt and unhappiness, while the latter emerge stronger, smarter, and more likely to achieve significant dream success.
Fear can either completely paralyze your dream progress or help you take the necessary steps toward dream achievement.
After more than 25 years as an entrepreneur, I can tell you that there is only one fear worth having—that you have just today, and only today counts.
And you have to maximize today.
A few years ago, I was on a family holiday at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We took a boat to the reef on a beautiful Australian summer day. Not a single ship was in sight. The boat pulled up over a segment of the reef that was barely below the waterline. We jumped into the lovely, warm blue water with our snorkeling gear to enjoy the incredible spectacle that lay hidden underneath.
As I was snorkeling and floating along the warm current, suddenly something that looked like a line appeared below me, and the warm water turned chillingly cold. The line was the water ridge that plummeted from the safety of the reef into the darkness of the sea. The beautiful sight below me suddenly went pitch black. I realized that I had gone over the reef into the icy ocean and there was a real chance the strong current could carry me away or dump me into the path of a shark.
Fear overtook my entire being for a moment, and then survival instinct kicked in.
I yanked my head out of the water and saw the reef was barely ten feet away. I started swimming back as fast as I could, probably the fastest I have ever in my life. Before I knew it, I was back in the beauty and comfort of the reef, but for about twenty numbing seconds, I had gone over to the dark side of Mother Nature, and she was scary!
One moment I was in a comfortable, warm, and beautiful place without a care in the world and the next moment, I was in a dark, cold abyss. That incident was a stark reminder of how close we all are to the line and how closely this line follows us for all of our lives.
Sometimes, we all need a little fear to remind us of what is truly important.
3 Ways Using Fear to Your Advantage Creates Big Dream Success
1. Fear is Excitement in Disguise.
“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.”
Let’s use the example two women, each who have a dream of becoming a professional skydiver. The idea of stepping off a plane at 14,000 feet altitude into nothingness evokes two completely different response examples.
Dreamer Jill is thrilled and excited about achieving her dream of flying through the sky like a bird. She imagines feeling the wind on her face and her arms embracing the sky. She sees herself easily jumping out of the plane. Dreamer Jane, on the other hand, is paralyzed by fear of failing at being a skydiver. She imagines how expensive training will be, how family and friends will think she is crazy and fears not being able to leave the plane once it’s time for her to jump. She imagines all of her awful worst-case scenarios.
In dreamer Jill, the adventurous nature lying dormant in her is awakened to the raw, unrestrained elixir of fear and it gives her an incredible high when she embraces it.
But for dreamer Jane, just the thought of doing something outside of her current comfort zone strikes unimaginable terror in her heart.
Each budding skydiver has the ability to achieve their dream but which dreamer do you think has a better chance at making her dream come true? Whether you experience fear or excitement depends merely on the lens you choose to look through at your dream.
Your success comes down to a choice.
Interestingly, young children are the least affected by fear of unknown. Most young kids are far more adventurous and fearless than many adults. Over the years, adverse life experiences can create a layer of fear in your subconscious mind. Adulthood clouds your lens with self-doubt and other negative messages you see and hear every day when you think about what you want to achieve before you die.
My advice is to clean your dream lens and change your focus from fearing what steps you need to take to being excited that you have steps to take. Reframing takes practice, so start small with a dream goal that doesn’t seem so daunting and work up to the ones that make you petrified. Each time find a way to see what you are feeling as excitement for the possibilities that await you.
2. What Doesn’t Paralyze You, Energizes Your Dream Journey.
“Panic at the thought of doing a thing is a challenge to do it.”
My experience dreaming big has shown me that fear is an unwelcome visitor in your life only when you are pursuing something you desperately want. Fear is usually a sign you are on the right dream path.
Think about all the times in the past when fear overcomes you and there’s a good chance you will notice a pattern. Most likely you experience fear just as you are about to embark on a major transition in your life, or are venturing into something entirely new and unknown. This feeling is normal. In fact, I would go so far as to say, if you are not afraid, you should perhaps revisit your decision.
In a sense, fear shows you the way. It reveals something you need to work on. What are you going do with this feeling? Do you allow it to paralyze you, or guide you?
My advice is to allow your fear to be an energizing force that propels you forward toward your big dream. Let fear uncover what you need to do–and then do it.
3. Fear is a Great Motivator for Dream Growth.
“Do not let your fear choose your destiny.”
At an evolutionary level, the human brain has developed over 200,000 years to detect and respond to danger. But now that life has evolved, and you are no longer in a constant state of survival, the sense of fear hasn’t gone away. It just manifested into something else. Humans now fear change, uncertainty, and the unfamiliar–even when it is not in your best interest to be afraid.
Living your life based on fear leaves you stuck in one place forever–in an illusory comfort zone that is akin to a child’s security blanket. Everyone has one and carry it around just as Linus does in the Peanuts cartoons. Security blankets are like substitute mothers. They offer comfort and provide feelings of safety and security, much as a mother might provide for a child. But, there comes a time when you must leave your childhood nest and with it, your security blanket.
Your brain is wired to search for the familiar continually. It’s easier to stick to the known because what you recognize makes you feel safe. But unless you learn to let go of your safe security blanket, you will never know what big dream awaits you just on the other side of fear. A life of predictability and familiarity is not where big dreams come true.
My advice is to practice leaning into your fear. I know leaning into fear can be a challenging exercise, because it will make you feel vulnerable. When you take a big dream leap, sometimes you will fly high, and other times you will fall hard to the ground. But think about this for a moment: In both cases, you are guaranteed to end up in a new place.
And new is exciting; new is progress.
Your dream life will continue to expand as your courage and willingness-to-grow expand. Using fear to your advantage today take one
scary exciting step toward your dream. Turn your fear into excitement, and allow your new-found enthusiasm to strengthen your resolve and guide you on your path to your dream-come-true success.
Because you deserve more from this blessed life.
Now say, “Cheers, to my fears!”
Vijay Eswaran is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist and the author of the best-selling book In the Sphere of Silence. An economist by training, he is the founder of a multimillion-dollar global business. A well-known thought leader in Asia, he has written and spoken extensively about business, leadership, personal development, and life management.
His new book Two Minutes from the Abyss published by Networking Times Press is now available as an eBook on Amazon. You can read more about Vijay Eswaran on his website at www.vijayeswaran.com.