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I hate bullies. Bullies seek the weak, the compassionate, and the kind and on their backs build a false reputation of strength. Did I already say I hate bullies? But the biggest bully of all isn’t a person — it’s not the guy who stole your lunch each day in elementary school. It’s the fear that’s stealing your future from you right now as an adult.

What are you afraid of? Seriously, what is causing you to freeze and rethink what you’ve already thought about a million times over? Maybe it’s a fear of rejection. Maybe the very idea of standing up in public and presenting your dream to the world makes you break out in hives. Or maybe you’re afraid of asking for your true value when pricing your services.

Join the Club

Whatever scares you and makes you afraid, know that we all have some level of fear. After all, it does play one important role in life, and that is to keep us safe. But what is fear really? One definition says fear is just a feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. Fear can serve a valuable purpose if there is real danger to avoid. However, human beings have the benefit (and curse) of our imaginations, and that is where things go sideways.

Our psyche doesn’t know the difference between running from a lion (a very real fear) or perceiving an imagined threat (i.e. public speaking). So, while fear can be an important emotion, it’s not healthy or productive to be overcome by it in most instances.

Perhaps you’ve been avoiding your biggest fear like you would a bully. You may feel like fear is chasing or harassing you. And just like conflict in elementary school, avoidance doesn’t make fear go away. While in life, a bully acts out of their own fear and projects it onto you, the bully of fear that you’re facing now might even be within your own mind rather than an actual person. You might be bullying yourself with thoughts like, “what if I lose my biggest client” or “what if we can’t sustain this change?” These thoughts will only get you imagining the worst-case scenario to keep you scared and stuck. Fear can create a vicious cycle that only creates more fear until it spreads to other people. 

Flip the Script

It’s time to flip the script on the bully called fear. Because this “fear” bully has a fragile ego and it can be overcome with bold and courageous action. First, address your language. Change, “what if” statements to “even if.” When you do, your words become fueled with hope, like: “even if we experience the worst, we will create something new.”

Stop running from the fear — when you turn around and look your bully square in the eye, you remove the power you had been giving it by running away. If you deal with your fear head on, it will quite literally evaporate before your very eyes. Learning to cope with your biggest fear might not be easy but you become a superhero by doing so — which can only help you win in both business and life.

Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Confronting your fear will stop it from controlling you. Conquering it will open up possibilities and get you headed in the right direction.

Fear not. Don’t let the bully win.