I want you to conquer your fears. Every single one of them. And it’s easier than you might think.
I ran into my karate instructor last week at the gym. I have personally trained for more than ten years in the art of Tae Kwon Do and for about 2 years in Muay Thai kickboxing. Before each class, we had to recite a Student Creed that basically reinforced the high levels of discipline, values, and respect to which all the students were committed. This made me think of the time I was afraid of getting hit in class and how I used it to overcome my fear, and how you can apply it to dropkick your fear of failure once and for all.
- Write it down
The first step is to always acknowledge your fears. You need to know what you’re afraid of before you can grapple it. Get a sheet of paper and write them down. Now I know you’re not going to let those words on paper have control over you!!
Take a second and visualize what it would feel like if you experienced your fears fully. For example, if you’re afraid of spiders, imagine a spider crawling on your arm. If it’s failing a test, imagine receiving an “F” on your exam. If it’s failing at executing your marketing plan, imagine no revenue coming in and taking angry calls from investors.
In Tae Kwon Do, I was afraid of getting kicked in the face, breaking a bone, or being knocked out.
- Analyze it
What is the history of your fear? Thinking back on your childhood and life experiences, there may have been a negative experience or factor that causes you to get all tight about your fears. How long has this fear taken hold of you?
What triggers your fear? Is it a sound, a color, a smell, a thought, a person?
When you get fearful, how does it affect you? Do you become anti-social? Do you not want to leave your home? Figure out how it’s preventing you to live the way you want to live.
I started Tae Kwon Do to protect myself from the unfortunate kids who used to bully me in elementary school. I was always scared of getting hit. When I’m getting ready to fight on the sparring floor, my fears always got the best of me. As a result, I was trying to avoid getting clocked more than delivering a powerful jab or kick, which then dissolved my entire form and caused me to get him more.
- Make your fear a source of fascination and take small steps to tame it
Think about the people who love to watch horror movies, race cars, and start companies. The fears and risks are there, yet these people put themselves out there to see how far they can really go. They are driven by fear to go out and face it, to study it and grow from it. Take some time and think about your fears, and slowly make your way to becoming more comfortable with them.
For example, if you’re scared of heights, look out of the window on the second floor and gradually work your way up, floor by floor. When you’re starting a company, write down an assumption of your business model and try to validate that assumption. If you’re wrong, you failed! So what?! It was a small fail, so tweak your assumption and test again!
I worked with my instructor one-on-one after Tae Kwon Do class to slow down a simulated fight for me. Sure, I got hit a few times, but I was able to develop confidence in the ring, take a punch, and get up and try again.
- Make a plan
Think about your fear. If what the biggest thing you fear happens, what will you do? How will you react? Spend some time and really think about this. This will make you or break you. For real.
Say you’re afraid of getting into a fight with your significant other, and then it happens. What would you do? Talk calmly, try to see it from their side, and co-develop a solution. That’s a solid game plan!
Or maybe you don’t hit your goal in getting 1,000 users to use your platform. A good game plan would be to talk with the users you do have, analyze their feedback, make the appropriate changes, rewrite your goal(s), and try again.
My instructor told me that if I did get punched in the face or knocked out, I should feel that pain for 5 seconds, and forget about it. Then I should stand up ready to go again, paying attention to which of their limbs hit me and how to avoid that from happening again. I had a plan in case the worst happened.
- Learn from it
You will get hit no matter what. What’s most important is how you react when it does happen. Now that you have a plan to deal with it, try to understand why it happened, and make the necessary changes to prevent it from happening again. Failure is another way of learning, as long as you’re persistent in your action and will keep on getting up no matter how many times failure kicks you in the face, you be good, money. Believe in yourself.
Jesal Trivedi is a Founding Partner and Director of Creative Development at The Phat Startup.
Image Credit: CC by Bluesbby