Halloween is upon us and that means things are downright spooky scary. It’s a time of year when we’re testing our limits around what scares us. But really, we should be looking at what scares us year-round.
We’re used to thinking about fear as something that helps us identify danger. If we’re trick or treating with our kids and a raggedy scarecrow turns out to be more than what it seems – we scream and laugh, hearts racing as the neighbors fill their bags with mini-candy bars.
This is partly the hardwired evolutionary fight or flight response coded into our very bones but it is also, more interestingly, a reflection of how we’ve been taught to think about and respond to our environments.
Fear Can Be a Sign of Opportunity
Just because we sometimes feel fearful doesn’t necessarily mean that something is inherently bad.
Haven’t you ever been afraid of something good? Perhaps you were close to someone you admired and were nervous about telling them you liked them? Those “butterflies” are the same biological response triggered by a grimacing skeleton. The fear or anxiety we face in such moments remains the same, the only thing that changes is the context and perception of the sensation.
So, if you can teach yourself to see fear as a sign that something is changing rather than a direct consequence of that change, you allow yourself to become empowered by your fear. Or, as Ian Robertson puts it, “stress can become a source of positive energy that can aid your performance.” If you can re-train yourself to think of fear as alerting you to change, you can use fear as a superpower – it can help you and your business become more agile and successful in the long-term.
Growth Isn’t Comfortable
Change is constantly happening to you and around you whether you realize it or not. Which means, as a prolonged state, comfort doesn’t exist endlessly. For a business that’s at the peak of its industry, that means if the environment begins to shift, they could either be in control of that change and lead the charge or be forced to react to that change and hope for the best.
The truth is, as we’ve written about before, growth doesn’t happen when we’re comfortable.
When we’re in our comfort zone, we’re trying to artificially sustain a state of equilibrium. It’s a happy place where we feel safe and secure. But that moment is fleeting, and the more we try to stay comfortable exactly where we are without changing a thing, the more we inadvertently move backward. We refuse to change or grow and, in so doing, end up allowing external forces to change things for us.
Seth Godin wrote about this on his blog, stating:
By the time … fear subsides, it will be too late. By the time you’re not afraid of what you were planning to start/say/do, someone else will have already done it, it will already be said or it will be irrelevant. The reason you’re afraid is that there’s leverage here, something might happen. Which is exactly the signal you’re looking for.
When our hackles rise because we notice something is shifting, we can choose to see that shift as an opportunity.
Our fear can help us capitalize on change, if we can refocus it. We can even befriend it. If you’re ready to start tackling your fear and leveraging it, you can read through our four strategies for using fears to your advantage here. You can share your additional tips for transforming stress into positive energy on our Facebook page.