Use Your Fears To Your Advantage

by Brendan Marshall

We are all afraid of something. Phobias come in many shapes and sizes. They’re sunk deep into our psyche and more difficult to shake than the worst Sunday morning hangover. I, for instance, am afraid of jelly fish due to a sail boat summer camp incident in the Chesapeake Bay years ago. There are different levels of fear -- some easier to manage than others. But what if I were to tell you that the crippling feeling that comes from fear could be used in your favor?

Fear is an indicator. It sends messages to the brain that cause us to make a decision, whether rational or not. It is a basic human function that we cannot live without. It protects us and is readily available at a moment’s notice. Along this road called life, we are faced with many tough decisions that engage the same parts of the brain that react to heights and “the dark.” Who’s to say you cannot use that fear as a motivator? Imagine embracing the feeling that comes from being afraid in order to not only make the right choice but also to become a stronger person in the process.

Just like the voices in your head that say you cannot do something, fear does not really exist. It is a wall to climb and overcome. Fear is a challenge – sometimes steep, sometimes it just appears steep. Every single one of us has the ability to take down something as small as the spider in the closet up to the Monday morning interview with three senior partners. It takes mental fortitude and understanding of what needs to be accomplished in order to overcome the fear that may hold you back.

Fear means “go.” To be clear, do not challenge the bear you stumble across while hiking the Appalachian Trail. That sort of fear should be understood and obeyed. But if you’re afraid to call the girl you met on Friday night, ask yourself “why?” She wants you to call. You’re on the bus to a championship game against a heavily favored opponent? You earned the right to be in that game – go take what is yours. You want to speak your mind in the status meeting? Speak up. Fear will hold you back from your full potential if you let it do so – be bigger than what wants to take you down.

I recently moved to a new city about 1,500 miles from home and during the process, as the vision slowly became a reality, the palpable fear of what I was actually doing reared its ugly head. A strange place, an unfamiliar job, new friends, thoughts of home (I wonder what my dog is doing right now), and the insatiable feeling of whether or not this was the right choice. There is no way of knowing for sure, but at the end of the day, I kept telling myself to go. Go face the fear and turn it into confidence. Use that confidence to move mountains.

As the lyric goes, “never let fear decide your fate.” A life directed in such a way will always come up short, paralleled along the lines of regret and self-doubt. The next leaders of Generation-Y will have the ability to face fears with conviction and a dutiful cause. Will you be one of them? Begin to challenge yourself now so when David vs. Goliath occurs, it will be easy to summon the strength to hold your head up high.

Brendan Marshall | Elite.