Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
Written by Lisa Montanaro | August 7, 2012

You have probably heard the phrase, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Some of you may live by that mantra. Others may feel the fear and let it paralyze them, never taking risks, living a life of safety and complacency. Fear is a natural emotion that we all feel at times, and that can keep us safe when facing danger or something that we are ill prepared for. Fear can prompt us to do more research when embarking on a new venture, and it can serve as the impetus for better planning. But fear can sometimes also stop us dead in our tracks, serving as a barrier to personal and professional growth. Is there a happy medium? Yes!

The Intersection of Fear and Excitement

When clients come to me for coaching around specific issues that they want to do or try but fear is holding them back, I almost always coach them around the intersection of fear and excitement. Let me demonstrate.

Think about something you would like to do, try, or embark on that you haven’t yet because fear has reared its ugly head. For one reason or another, you have fear around trying this activity, doing this task, or embarking on this journey. It makes no difference whether it is personal or professional. It could be as big as starting a new business, changing jobs, or relocating, or a smaller undertaking like starting a blog or trying a new hobby.

Now, see if you also have excitement around trying this task, activity or new journey. Can you answer yes to the excitement part? If so, great! If you were to look at this potential undertaking as a pie, how much of your reaction and emotion around doing it is fear and how much is excitement? In order for you to overcome the fear, there has to be some excitement to balance it out! And if excitement is a bigger piece of the pie, even better. You will be able to move forward with more confidence knowing that your excitement will help guide the way and cancel out some of the fear.

What if the fear is an overwhelmingly larger piece of the pie than excitement? Does this mean you are doomed to stay stuck forever? Not necessarily. You may not have done enough research or due diligence to get excited about it yet. Excitement often comes when we can start to actually “see” our dreams and future plans take shape, and that can take more time to work out in our minds before the excitement sets in. But if you never feel any excitement about this undertaking and fear is the big black cloud hanging over this, chances are, it is either not the right path for you… or your fear is too large to overcome at this time. So then, what do you do?

Do a Trial Run

You can do a trial run of your undertaking but in a way that feels safer, and perhaps smaller. For example, before opening your business, s pend some time interning or shadowing a professional that does what you want to do for a living. This will give you a taste of what it would be like to be a business owner doing that work before you actually start it. Likewise, if you want to write a book, but fear keeps holding you back, start by writing a blog or a series of articles. Usually, doing a smaller version or trial run of the undertaking will quell some of the fear and get you pumped up!

Just Do It

In the words of the popular Nike advertising campaign, just do it! Yes, I mean it. Just close both eyes and dive into the deep end. Or in my case, keep your eyes wide open and hands on the wheel, as my fear was driving over bridges. I love to drive and have been doing so since my teenage years. I drive long distances and cover a lot of miles for speaking engagements and pers onal travel. However, for years, I was afraid of driving over bridges. Strangely enough, I am not afraid of heights, but something about bridges just freaked me out. So what did I do? I drove over a lot of bridges! It helped allay my fears, “conditioned” me to get used to it, and realize I can do it successfully. Doing the actual activity that I was afraid of took a lot of the power out of the fear that I had been giving to it. The fear got less and less until one day I was driving over a bridge a few years ago and realized I no longer felt the fear.

Did I develop excitement about driving over bridges? I wouldn’t go that far! But I did get excited about where driving over bridges could take me. I have become a huge fan of road trips and take them often. In fact, my husband and I just drove 3,600 miles across the United States as we relocated from New York to California, and yes, there were a lot of bridges.

So, what would you do if you could overcom e your fear? Figure out if your pie includes at least equal parts excitement and then take a big old bite out of it and dig in!

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.