fearThe Basis of Fear

According to Psychology Today, fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger.  If we didn’t feel it, then we could not protect ourselves from legitimate danger.  Life and death can hinge on our fear and our reactions to it.  Our survival rate would be extremely low if not for the fear that helps us to regulate our behavior during moments of crisis.  Fear is not our problem.

Natural Functioning of Fear

fear of snakesOur problem comes when the fear engine kicks into high gear, often due to past experience.  Almost all fears we have of situations that are not life-threatening are what psychologists call “conditioned response“.  Something happened somewhere in our past that now triggers a fear response in us.  On a basic level, for example, an experience I had with a snake has led to a dislike and sometimes fear of snakes.  I don’t shriek and run the other way, but I am also not likely to approach it.  When I go camping with our Boy Scout troop and I happen to spot a snake, someone will invariably ask me what kind of snake it is.  My response is always,

“I don’t know, I did not get that close!”

On another level, past experiences with risk situations that led to devastating results can create conditioned responses in us that lead to fear.   People with Reactive Attachment Disorder develop an overwhelming fear of bonding relationships with people because of past experiences where trusted relationships betrayed them or took advantage of them or abused them.  Others, on a lower-level, have a past romantic relationship that ended badly and avoid future romantic relationships.  An employee encounters a boss who berated them or humiliated them when they came up with a creative idea and develops the fear of making a contribution.

Unnatural Fear

Even more so, our mind has a natural tendency to protect us in every situation, even to the point of creating scenarios that don’t even exist just to keep us from placing ourselves into potential danger, whether real or not.  Fear and resistance build up.  Every time we go to stretch ourselves – to push out of our comfort zone, to take a risk – we start to imagine all the things that will go wrong.  We will be publicly humiliated.  The newspapers will carry front page headlines documenting our failure.  Our boss will fire us.  Our family will disown us.  Our friends will make fun of us.  We will sit on the curb broke, destitute, with no future prospects and no hope.  This one failure will destroy us!

fear - false evidence appearing realYou see where it goes.  The more we focus on it, the more our fears run away with the perception of what will happen.  Many like to reassure people by saying that FEAR is simply

False Evidence Appearing Real

While not entirely accurate, it’s a good start towards working on our fears.  When we understand that often our fear is based on situations that are imagined, we can begin to put them into perspective.  Once we regain perspective, it becomes easier to work past the fear and take the risks we need to take to succeed in life.  So the key is not to conquer fear,  because we can’t.  Fear is a natural part of our body’s system and we cannot get rid of it.  What we can do is learn to manage it, to work with it, and work beyond it.

In the posts the rest of the week, we will examine ways in which we can manage our fears and be productive.

Action Plan

  • What are some ways you deal with fear now?  Post your comments here so you may be able to help others.

Strange and She Likes It

My daughter Liza, young teen that she is, loves to occasionally sing the lyrics to a song that was made popular on one of the kid channels on TV.

Come to think of it, she sings the whole song.

Come to think of it, she is ALWAYS singing some song, but more on that later.  The song she sings was sung by an artist named Skye Sweetnam.  You can see the video here:

Skye Sweetnam Video

The chorus goes like this

I’m strange
And I like it
That’s just the way I am
I can’t change
I can’t hide it
That’s just the way I am
Might as well get over it
But don’t try to understand
I’m strange
And I like it
That’s just the way I am

This may not be your style of music; certainly isn’t mine.

Celebrating Unique

being unique can be great
Dogs don’t worry about being unique, they just embrace who they are.

What I like about it, however, is the celebration of being who they are.  If you interpret it into adult-speak, the song basically says that yes I have idiosyncrasies, yes I do dumb things sometimes, yes I say silly things but all of that is what makes me unique and I gladly embrace it.  I think it is a great message for kids to learn, particularly since there is so much incredible pressure among their peers to be like everyone else.

Striving to Find My Unique Me

I know I felt it when in Junior High School (what we now call Middle School) and High School to an extent.  I went to a Junior High School where the vast majority of my peers were from families in higher income brackets than hours.  Polo branded shirts and Levi branded jeans were the “standard” and if you didn’t dress like that you were an outcast.  We could not afford those and my parents have always been thrifty so I wore Sears Kings Road jeans.  You can guess how that went over with my peers.  I hovered around the edge of several different peer groups and tried to fit in but never really got there.  I finally decided to quit trying and that’s what started to make the difference.

Once I reached high school, I started to embrace what was unique about me.  Naturally, I went a bit overboard for a while but I managed to stand out in high school and even show some leadership.  It was also there that I was allowed to grow more of the skills that set me apart.  While I had athletic skills, I chose to spend more time with speech and drama, particularly speech and was a competitive speaker all through high school and into college.  It helped me discover and hone the special talents, personality, and style that made me unique.  By setting myself apart and showing confidence in that person, I experienced more respect and popularity and SUCCESS than I ever did trying to be like everyone else.

The Girl Just Can’t Help It

I mentioned my daughter is always singing.  That’s no exaggeration.  Pretty much there is a song in her heart and on her lips every moment of every day.  While it sometimes wears thin, I would never dream of stopping her.  It is her essence; it is part of what makes Liza uniquely Liza; along with her total acceptance of anyone regardless of race, intelligence, capability, or popularity.  I hope she continues to embrace that to find her true success.

Action Plan

  1. What about you?  What makes you uniquely you?  Are you embracing that or have you hidden that in order to fit in?  How’s that working out for you?
  2. What can you do today to bring out more of YOU in what you do?

A Dream for Life

follow your dreamWhere we go and what we do in life is designed to be driven by our dreams.  So we begin dreaming at an early age about who and what we want to be.  It changes from time to time, depending on the influences in our lives, but it also each change molds and shapes us into the person we are designed to be.

Disney’s Dream Wasn’t Folly

Walt Disney was always an artist.  He had a passion for drawing and he would draw anytime he could; first little sketches from family members and then drawings he would sell to friends and others.  Deep within him was this dream of creating animated feature films.

The problem was, no one wanted full-length animated feature films.  He made lots of short cartoons that became extremely popular, such as Laugh-O-Grams, The Alice Comedies, Oswald Rabbit, and little animations for local businesses.  Over this time, he tried and failed several times to have a successful animation venture.  Even Steamboat Willie, the debut of Mickey Mouse, was actually a short featurette.

Walt kept re-iterating his desire to create full-length animated feature films.  His business advisors and friends were all against it.  Other industry colleagues derided him.  In fact, they called it “Disney’s Folly”.  This kept on right up until 1937, when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released and grossed $1.6 billion.  So much for Disney’s Folly.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Walt Disney

Following My Own Dream Path

I was not as lucky as Disney.  It wasn’t until halfway through college that I found my passion.  I was working my way through college at Walt Disney World and  for a while I was  “Jungle Paul” on the famous Jungle Cruise ride.  “Welcome aboard, thrill seekers and danger lovers!”

I performed well on this attraction and they made me a trainer for the ride.  I would typically work with trainees for several days, teaching them to work the ride, memorize the spiel, and deliver it effectively.  That’s where the passion struck!  I found myself making supplemental teaching aids to enhance the manual and help my trainees learn faster.  I worked hard with energy and excitement; nothing made me happier than a trainee successfully completing a trip and passing the test.

Now I knew:  this was my dream!  I wanted to help others be inspired and learn and grow and perform well.  That was what really drove me!  I didn’t want to be president of Disney, or a corporate giant, or a lawyer.  I wanted to help adults learn and perform.

But the road wasn’t that easy.  I was told that the way to become a trainer was to beccome an expert on something and then maybe a company will make me a trainer.  I didn’t want to do that.  I decided on my own route.  I had lots of ups and downs, lots of failure.  Plenty of people telling me I couldn’t do it my way.  I refused to be stopped; I kept my dream in mind.

I have now been a professional trainer for over 25 years.  I accomplished my dream and I followed my own path.  I can tell you, a dream and a passion will get you anywhere.

Action Plan

  1. What dream have you held on to from an early age?  What are you doing to pursue it?
  2. Think of one thing you can do TODAY to start making that dream a reality.
  3. Shut out any negative talk from anyone (including yourself) telling you that you can’t too it or it’s too late.


Three Years of Focus AND Flurry

failure - lack of focus purposeAlmost three years ago I began this journey to have my own business.  I felt it was my purpose to help others learn to become better leaders and better team members.  I joined a program to be certified by John Maxwell (one of my mentors) as a leadership coach and become a Founding Partner of the John Maxwell Team of independent coaches.  While I have seen some victories, it has not become the overnight, overwhelming success I imagined it to be.  Which doesn’t mean it won’t be, just not necessarily on the timetable I originally envisioned.

It’s my own fault; every bit of it.  Lack of real focus and a flurry of activity in multiple directions.  Friends and family who mean well try to give me an out and mention that the economy is down, small businesses all over are struggling.  It’s not your fault.  But it is.

Not Giving Up

Let me be clear:  I am not calling it quits.  I still firmly believe I was meant to do this and will continue to try to do it until I am physically or mentally unable to.  However, it’s important to recognize where you have failed and even more importantly, how you can learn from that failure.  My two biggest failures have been lack of real focus and lack of strong purpose.

There have been other failures as well.  Lack of a real solid plan for getting and keeping clients, lack of a comprehensive marketing plan, poor money management, etc.  Passion sometimes blinds us to the realities of life.  Just because I have something to say that can help others doesn’t necessarily mean they will beat down the door.

Choose Growth to Find Purpose and Focus

Reading John Maxwell’s latest book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn has helped me put this in perspective.  I can mope and whine about my great failures or I can learn my lessons from it and move forward and do better.

I choose to learn and grow and get better.  So my purpose of sharing all this with you today isn’t to bemoan my failures and give up; in fact, quite the opposite.  I will grow stronger and become more effective and that will equip me even more to add value to you going forward.

failure - focus purposeSo what are my lesson learned and what am I doing about it?  Here’s a brief summary:

  • Enrolled in a marketing training program to become a better marketer of my services.  I am using ActionPlan.com and highly recommend Robert Middleton as he makes this easy to understand and has excellent hands-on experiences.
  • Narrowing my focus and defining my purpose.  There are thousands of leadership coaches out there.  What can I do that is unique and provides value?  After blogging every day now for over a month, I am finding myself focusing a great deal on personal growth qualities and most of my work going forward will focus on that.
  • Re-structuring of systems I use to acquire contacts and maintain communication with them

The biggest lesson which I really had to wrap my head around:  IT IS OKAY TO FAIL AND EVEN TO FAIL REPEATEDLY as long as you learn.  Thomas Edison while trying to invent the lightbulb failed almost 100o times before he achieved success.  Someone asked him how it felt to fail so many times and Edison replied

I didn’t fail 999 times, I simply learned 999 ways to NOT make a lightbulb!

Let’s move forward together and look forward to our failures!  Let’s learn and grow and succeed together!

Action Plan

  • Where you have failed big recently?  What have your learned from it?  Spend some time thinking on the lessons you could or should learn.
  • Who can you team up with to help you see perspective and gain accountability for growing?  If you can’t think of anyone, call me at 321-355-2442.


Now this is an interesting perspective I ran across.  If I am reading it right, it seems to suggest that there are physical conditions that affect our ability to show courage and other characteristics necessary to be an excellent leader.  What do you think?  New age mumbo jumbo?  Medically-validated?
Is courage teachable or learnable, or is it ingrained in you at an early age?  At what point does it become to late to develop?
What do you do when you want to bolster your courage?  What other characteristics do you think you could build or reinforce through focus techniques like what is mentioned here?
Improving Leadership through the Brain-to-Belly Nerve (via Investorideas.com News )

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