The Power of Slow

Embracing time so you have more of it

How to Turn Your Fear into Passion, not Paralysis

Fear is a powerful force. It can be useful too.

Fear is a tricky thing. It can move us forward or paralyze us completely. It can motivate us to try harder or lead us to give up completely.

The crushing weight of anxiety placed firmly on our chests, we often face new challenges -- or avoid them at all costs -- with a pending sense of impossibility. We know we have done something similar before this moment, and yet we cannot help but feel we are trudging up yet another mountain. And somehow we think that this time we won't be able to master it.

Before every talk I give, every article I write, every call I make, I see that mountain off in the distance. The vice of fear curls its fingers around my head and I wonder if I may have lost my touch in the seconds it took between agreeing to the assignment and actually doing it.

Then, despite the mild paralysis, I step over it and onto the stage, tackle the keyboard and pick up the receiver to do it anyway.

I am not alone in this feeling. My professional photographer friend feels the same. Before every job, he gets the tingle of performance anxiety. And yet he is a master of his craft. A true artist that moves me - heart and soul.

And so it is - we see molehills and think they are mountains. Before we know it, we are in the midst of that very thing we feared. Only we have forgotten to feel bad because we feel so good doing what we do best.

Stevie Nicks, the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, once said. "If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?"

I think so. A little bit of fear mixed in with the passion that pushes us through it to the other side is what keeps us moving forward. And makes us so excellent.

A mild sense of fear can be useful if you follow a few tips:

  • Recognize your fear. Define it. Fear is like a little kid. The more you ignore it, the louder it gets.
  • Think of one baby step you can take to move toward, not away, from your fear. Your fear can't hide if you approach it head on.
  • Ask others for help. Sometimes just speaking the source of your fear outloud helps diffuse it.
  • Reward yourself. For every step you take in overcoming your fear, give yourself the recognition you deserve.

Expand that comfort zone. Never give up. Stretch beyond what you think is possible.

Because anything is possible.

Anything.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

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