Episode 14: Three Strategies to Conquer Fear

Good morning! What a wonderful day, a great start to the week. Is your mind ready to take on the world as you listen this morning to the podcast? Hey, this is Jimmy Williams, your host for Live a Life by Design and today I am excited to tackle an area of life that I believe pulls back many of our listeners from achieving their full potential in life.

You bet I’m talking about conquering fear. You know a lot of times we don’t attempt something that could help bring us to the next level of life or we don’t take on that new role for fear that we’ll fail in the process. We just simply conjure up ideas and reasons why we can’t be successful so that we hold ourselves back.

I want to talk to you a little bit this morning of your Monday morning moments of motivation, this quiet moment where you can now listen to my voice take a few small tidbits of information, apply it this week, and become a bigger, better, and bolder you.

Let’s talk about fear for just a moment. Fear’s nothing more than what’s called an acrostic. If you take the letters of the word fear. F-E-A-R. They mean several things. I boiled it down to being, “false evidence appearing real”. You know Zig Ziglar had a quote and you always hear me quoting Zig, I consider him one of my mentors in life because I’ve listened to about every, maybe every audio he’s put out, watched every video, read about every book he’s ever published. I’ve seen him twice in person. And he just had such an impact on my life that I can’t help but continue to quote him. Zig says this, “Fear has two meanings. Forget everything and run, or face everything and rise. The choice is yours.” You know, stop thinking and start taking action to alleviate fear. One of the greatest things we can do in our life is be deliberate in what we’re trying to accomplish. You know too often we think of all the possible harms that could come from a certain decision when we should simply just take a first step toward our goal.

Today we’re gonna talk about three hacks, three strategies, that will help you overcome fear. And the first few steps you take will give you the momentum to move through your fear and toward success. You know, this is one of the top three fears that most people have. You’re gonna laugh. But most people fear failure. This is held back many people from achieving what is maybe the biggest portion of their life and success. Is the failure in their life could become real. You know, I’ve got to tell ya, failure is never final. However, quitting trying makes it so.

So you’ve got to look at this as a moment in time and not your forever destination, right? So, don’t let the failure of something or potential failure cause you to miss out on opportunities in life. And then the other fear. The fear yes, just the opposite. The fear of success. Oh my goodness, what if I am successful? Would that require me to change my way of living? Would that require me to change my friendships? Would I be losing my freedoms, in other words would I have to have people that hold me accountable all the time, or keep me on the schedule or do these things that I don’t want to do. You know too often we look at success and we try to find a way that it traps us into being someone we’re not.

Now granted I will tell you success can change your mind in terms of living, in terms of life, and in terms of how you see yourself around others. But it doesn’t have to. You have the power to control what you do with your life no matter what role you play. Whether it’s one of being a pauper or one of being a wealthy person. You have the power in your mind and control of your body to determine how you wish to live life.

One of the greatest and most successful people that I’ve read and studied has been Sam Walton. Sam Walton who founded the first five and dime in a small town in Arkansas, known as Bentonville. What really saw big dreams in his life. He wanted to bring this type of a five and dime small town store approach – low prices so that the everyman could afford anything — to every small community in the United States. Well I got news for you, Mr. Walton didn’t reach his goal, he exceeded it. Not only is Wal-Mart one of the largest retailers, now only second to Amazon. It is one of the largest retailers in the world, not just the United States. Wal-Mart did something that many may see as being a negative. It did challenge smaller, closely held, or mom and pop type stores to change the way they did business. To change the way they market. To target and find a niche that Wal-Mart couldn’t provide. So that they could retain their customer base.

Now granted many of those small mom and pop companies did eventually succumb to the pressure of Wal-mart and did lose their businesses, but the point I’m making with this is, is that the fear of being successful did not hold back Sam Walton. Matter of fact at one point in his career, he had extinguished all of his capital that he had available. He couldn’t borrow any more money from the bank, they had lent him all they’re going to lend. However, he did not stop there. Many of us would have said you know I’ve reached the end of the road, I can’t do anymore, I’m done. But not Sam Walton. Sam Walton was brought up in Oklahoma, in a little town of Hennessey, Oklahoma, very poor family. And he did not know the word quit. As a matter of fact, my mother, who worked about 18 years for Wal-mart as a second career, met Mr. Walton on several occasions and was always amazed that he knew the names of all of his “associates”, or employees, he called them associates, when he would see them, and this always brought my mother a great big smile on her face when Mr. Walton came there to their particular store. Driving that old Ford pick up and he’d walk in with a suit on, but he had a cap on that said Wal-mart, and he knew their names, and this is something that Sam Walton did to give morale or boosting a motivation to his associates.

You see, he didn’t let fear of success or failure interfere with his plans in reaching his goals.

1. Act, Don’t Think

So, I want to share just three simple steps or strategies that will help you overcome fear. You know, the first one, act don’t think. Our minds are survival based. You know your brain is always thinking of ways to keep you alive. That’s it’s only role. How do I keep this body alive, because if the body’s not alive, of course the brain will not live. Now I’m not saying you should start base jumping off of tall buildings without a parachute, or attempt to go hunt cobras with your bare hands. What I’m talking about is those few seconds you give yourself to think about a potential action to convince yourself that it is in fact a valid choice to move forward.

Have you ever wondered how certain people can become so powerful that they overcome any physical situation without thinking? You know we’ve heard these horrific stories where perhaps a child was under a car and this car needed to be moved and a gentleman that’s the child’s father without thinking just grabbed the edge of the car and lifted the automobile off the ground. Now many of us know that that’s adrenaline, you know the brain just pumping the adrenaline, he’s excited he didn’t think about what he was doing but he acted. You see that’s how you overcome a fear. You overcome fear by acting movement, taking action toward what is the fear. Diminishes the size of that fear in your eyes. You know you got to give yourself opportunities in life. So doors are there but you must open them. Don’t be fearful on what’s on the other side of the door.

Sometimes and I’ll confess, that I open some doors in life that I wished I’d never opened. I don’t have any regrets, but I did learn some valuable lessons in life. Particularly on some business decisions that I made and decisions also that I made partnerships with individuals throughout life. By conducting business, but if I had the chance to do over again, I’d make a different decision, but what they did and how I gained benefit from these decisions that could have been made better, was to learn from them so in the future I don’t make the same mistakes twice. You’ll act, don’t think. Is the key.

What about if your child was being held over the edge of a twenty story building, and you had a two by four laying between the two buildings, each twenty five stories tall? The gentleman said if you don’t walk across that plank, that two by four, and do it now, it’s only twenty feet, if you don’t I’m gonna drop your child to its inevitable death on the street. Now I hear what you’re saying, many of you are saying, now wait a minute Jimmy, which child would he be holding? No that’s not right. What I’m saying to you is, if that were your child the great value you hold and love for that child would overcome any fear you had of those twenty small feet between life and death for your child. I don’t have doubt that any of us would immediately start sprinting across that twenty foot span to save our child.

2. Build Confidence Through Practice and Education

You see that’s what I’m talking about when I say, act, don’t think. You do not have an opportunity to simply allow life to unfold whatever which way the wind may blow. What you must do is act on what are your goals. I must talk about that for just a few moments. You see another strategy to defeating fear is if you act and don’t think being the first one, the second one is build your confidence through practice and education. You know there are so many negative people in the world I just really don’t like hanging around those people. And sometimes those people may be family members. And I have cautioned them, you know if we’re going to have this type of conversation, I’m going to excuse myself and go into the other room, go outside, or simply go home.

But practice saying these two words. Practice saying, “I can”, instead of allowing negative words into your thoughts. I can. It’s just a simple phrase. But what it does is it ponds the mind and focuses the mind on an accomplishment. It doesn’t allow the mind to conjure up some negativity that could come from the action you’re about to partake, it also allows you to understand that hey there is a vision I have of us doing what we love to do.

I can. So study the area of your fear, and learn from others who have overcome that fear. You know, many fears have been experienced long before you and I came along. You know, research others that have suffered with your particular fear, learn how they conquered it, visualize yourself doing the one thing that you hold as most fearful. Many people come to me and say, oh I just couldn’t speak in public as you do Jimmy, I am not a speaker in front of people like that you put me on the stage and I just become paralized. Well you know the first thing I would do if I were them? I’d get in front of an audience. Of course it would be a smaller audience, but I would get in front of an audience, and conquer that fear of public speaking.

You see, maybe if I might get in front of five people. And if I built a little bit of confidence, then I may go get in front of a little larger crowd. Eventually working myself up to a point where I’m in front of thousands of people. One of the things I have learned and enjoyed most in my life is the fact that I enjoy public speaking. I’ve been doing it as part of my career now for many years. Public speaking to me is one of the most rewarding ways of creating success.

Let’s talk about something I am fearful of, and one way I needed to build my confidence. When I was very young I played baseball. Now this was back in the early 70s when they didn’t have t-ball. This is where they had a pitcher throwing the ball at you that was only a mere 25 to 30 feet away from home plate. I was at the batter’s box, ready to take on the pitcher. He threw a ball and it hit me squarely on the left side of my left knee. You know that part where it’s only bones, ligaments, and muscles, but it doesn’t have any fat. It sent me to the ground pretty fast. Oh I was grabbing my knee and it hurt something terrible. Immediately my knee starts swelling, and my coach is yelling from third base, get up throw some dirt on it and run to first. Well, I got up, I did put a little dirt on there, thinking that might be the magic that needed to be taken to heal this. It didn’t help any, but I hobbled on down to first. I got to first base and I’ll tell you my leg was throbbing at this point. Finally I got a pinch runner, convinced the first base coach I couldn’t get the second very safely, so I sat down in the dugout. My mother and dad came over and checked me out, and say what’s going on? And basically got me a bag of ice and put on my knee. Now I was only about seven years of age. At that age, I’m probably not as mature as I should have been about this, and I just told my dad there’s just no way I could play baseball the rest of the night. My knee was killing me. Well obviously nothing was broke, but I did get a pretty good a sting if you will from the ball hitting right on the bone. It did swell up, but then the next game came around, about two days later. There was that old familiar batter’s box, with another pitcher about 25 to 30 feet away. I found myself not standing in the batter’s box when I was swinging at the ball. Subconsciously I had told myself and created a fear that that ball was gonna hurt no matter who was throwing it. I just needed to get out of the way. Well this wasn’t going to work for my baseball career for sure. So I’ll tell you what happened. My coach, the next day at practice, after seeing this night where I just couldn’t hit the ball because obviously stepping out of the plate wasn’t going to help. He took some wiffle balls, and he said now I’m just gonna throw these wiffle balls towards you and they’re gonna hit you. And I don’t want you to move out of that batter’s box. Just stand there and I’m going to hit you with these wiffle balls, and as you can see they’re not going to hurt. He threw maybe a dozen, maybe even 18 to 24 of these wiffle balls at me. Standing there I felt invincible. I felt like nothing could knock me out of that batter’s box this side of a giant billy club coming along, right? And then he picked up some tennis balls, and he had about a dozen of those, and he said, now I’m gonna take these tennis balls, just like I did the wiffle balls and I’m gonna throw some at the plate and I’m gonna throw some at you. Now if they come at you, they’re obviously not gonna hurt, maybe a little more than the wiffle ball, but not nearly as bad as a baseball, and just stand there and just remember this will not hurt.

So he was training my mind, is all he was doing, programing my mind to understand that that’s just a ball and I’m in charge of that ball, that balls not in charge of me. Right? And so he then proceeded to throw these, about a dozen tennis balls, and I hit a few of them, down to third base line, hit one over shortstop, one out in left field, and then he nailed me with a couple of them, and I didn’t move, and I realized, hmmm, now they hurt a little more than the wiffle ball, but nothing near that that baseball did on my knee cap. So then he said, ok it’s the test. Now I’m gonna pitch some baseballs to you, and you’re gonna stand there and hit them, because it’s not gonna hurt. You’re now not gonna get hurt, you’re just gonna stand there, and if I do hit you, it’s not going to hurt very long, and you’re gonna hit the ball and hit it well. Well, by now I was so pumped up from hitting wiffle balls and tennis balls, and I just thought well, if he’s throwing anything at me I can take it. And sure enough I stayed in the batter’s box, my hitting improved, and I became an enjoyable baseball player once again.

3. Set Some Goals

This short story is just to tell you that we can have fears about anything in life. Such a small thing as a baseball can drive fear in the heart of a kid. There are such things out there in life that drive fear into the heart of us adults. And many times we have to be careful that this fear does not become our way of life, that it robs us of opportunities. So act, don’t think, is the first strategy. The second strategy is build confidence through practice and education. The third and most practical way for you to overcome fear is set some goals.

Now I know what you’re thinking, I’m not asking you to set astronomical life-changing goals. I simply want you to set four or five small goals that will take you toward that fear. And help you to overcome it. As I said earlier, if its a fear of public speaking, go speak in front of your church group, or your Sunday school group, or speak in front of your employee group. Whoever it may be. And it doesn’t have to be long. Assume it’s only 3 to 5 minutes. Do something that takes you in the direction against that fear. Overcoming that fear by setting goals and checking those goals off will only build your confidence as you are now set up to take on even bigger and better challenges.

You know, people fear the unknown. People fear failure. People fear success. There are many types of fears that people have. But I will tell you the best way to overcome any fear is to simply start doing it. If you start doing something, such as the fear of asking your boss for a raise if you work for someone. If you’ve done a good job in your heart and you know if and your boss hasn’t given you a raise, well what’s the biggest thing they can tell you besides no? Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Walk in with confidence, walk in not with arrogance, but with confidence and ask the appropriate question. What would it take for me to gain a raise in my pay? I have accomplished this, this, this, and this. Let them know that you’re committed to increasing your knowledge, to helping the company, to doing whatever it takes to excel in your career. And just remember because you asked doesn’t mean it always happens. But don’t stop asking, don’t stop working on it. Don’t stop, just because you’ve run into one small obstacle.

You know Bob Proctor’s a self-made millionaire, and he was featured in a book. He’s a teacher, excuse me, in a book and a movie called The Secret, and he had a quote, it said, “We come this way but once, we can either tiptoe through life and hope that we get to death without being too badly bruised, or we can live a life full, complete life. Achieving our goals and realizing our wildest dreams”. You know, that kind of a statement really makes me understand why we’re on the planet to start with. We’re on this planet to help others. To do things that others won’t do. So that one day we can do what we wish to do when we want to do it.

It’s one of those things in life that if we can conquer fears that are out there, those false evidences appearing real, and understand that they have no dominion over our life, we will truly see success. An American author and humorist, Mark Twain, once said, “I have lived a long life and had many troubles. Most of which never happened”. I think Mark Twain said it right. Most of the things that he thought he had as trouble, really never happened. You see, we have opportunities before us each day. To achieve those opportunities we simply must do something we didn’t do yesterday. If fear was holding us back, today is a new day. Today is the first day of the week. I encourage, I implore you to implement one of these three strategies. Act, don’t think. Number two, practice, research, get information to educate yourself on the fear and how others have overcome it. Maybe you can implement one of their stradigets as well. And thirdly, always, always set goals. You can not set a goal that you can’t achieve if you want it bad enough.

I want to leave you with this small story. Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple computers, when he first created the iPhone, the first iteration of the iPhone was so unique, so different from any other phone on the market, he knew that he had a great product. He had something that the public would want. It looked elegant, simple to use, it was a state of art electronic device. Now we take it for granted, here in 2019 these phones are just a part of our life now. But at the first invention of the iPhone, it was such a new a novel idea that Steve Jobs set there for a moment and it was said he just stared at the simplicity, yet the functionality of this device. You see all he ever told his engineers was to make it simple yet make it useful and make it to where they are dependant to use it. He wanted to capture his market for the telephone business. For the electronics business. I would say that Apple, once it surpassed Microsoft in market cap at achieve one of the goals set by Steve Jobs.

During a commencement speech where he was speaking to a graduating university class, in California, he made the comment and please note that at this time he had already been told his life was just a few months away from cancer taking it. He simply said, “Don’t waste time letting others live your life. Take every day and make it count for what you can do to make the world a better place. To leave your mark on what the world is today so that it’ll be better tomorrow because of you”.

That is truly what success is. You face your fears, you leave the world a better place, and I promise you, you in the meantime, will be a better person. Now go out, tackle this week, have a great Monday and we’ll hear from you next week as we have another episode of Live a Life by Design. Don’t forget to leave a rating and review on iTunes.

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