Does faith or fear drive you?

 

Of all the things my parents told me as I was growing up, one phrase loomed large:

“Be careful!!”

I grew up thinking of the world as a scary and dangerous place, with many fearsome people, events, and activities in it. Even if I just wanted to go to my friend’s house three doors down, I was admonished to “be careful.”

This was prudent advice for a six-year-old. However, if you take it to an extreme as an adult wanting to be a successful entrepreneur, it becomes a huge burden, an anchor holding you back.

When you think about what you want your business to look like, do you find yourself thinking any of the following?

If so, then you, like many others, are probably stuck in a fear-based view of life. Seemingly well-meaning others may very well contribute to this fear by encouraging you to “be realistic”, “grow up”, or “don’t get your hopes up”.

How’s that working for you?

Fear is so versatile; there are any number of ways it can cripple your results. It can:

 

Fear sabotages success.

 

A quick online search reveals that f-e-a-r, when used as an acronym, has literally dozens of meanings. Here are some of my favorites; which of these rings a bell for you?

Ouch.

Living in fear makes for relentless stress, disappointing results, regrets, and resentments. (Other than that, it’s not so bad…)

If this is a cloud you’ve been operating under and you’re ready to try something new, then acting in faith is a good place to start.

For some people the concept of faith has strong religious overtones; for others, it’s a purely secular concept. In either case, faith is simply having confidence in something you can’t perceive with your physical senses. Here are some fun secular acronyms that describe ways to view faith:

Take a moment to feel the energy associated with any of these phrases. Do you notice how different it is compared to what you experience when you dwell upon fear (or any of the above “definitions”)?  Interesting, isn’t it…

Years ago, someone pointed out a fascinating relationship between fear and faith: Fear is simply faith that things won’t work out. Duh! A blinding flash of the obvious that had completely escaped me.

When my first husband was dying from cancer, I worked with a mental health counselor to help me deal with that harsh situation. One day I asked him what, at the time, I thought was kind of a goofy question: “Is it possible to choose to have faith that he’ll get well?” John replied, with a good deal of startlement, “Of course!” He was surprised I would even have to wonder about faith being a choice, and I was surprised that he was so convinced it was.

That therapy, coupled with a lot of self-enrichment courses and a commitment to personal growth, resulted in my coming to believe that true faith is indeed a conscious, intentional choice.

 

Do you choose to help or hinder yourself?

 

So if you’re ready to make that choice, the question becomes, how can you start to act from faith rather than fear? Here are some tools that are both effective and very empowering.

 

Faith helps, fear hinders.

 

Surround yourself with the right kind of messages.

I have a plaque in my office that reads, “Live by what you trust [i.e., have faith in], not by what you fear.” Another one encourages me to “Leap, and the net will appear.” Both are good daily reminders for me not to live my life as a chicken.

Surround yourself with the right kind of people.

Sometimes easier said than done, I know.

While many people will genuinely want to support you, some may unconsciously be more interested in keeping you small. Just because you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean everyone else is willing to step out of theirs, and if you start to consistently behave differently, their behaviors will necessarily change in response. (If you start to tango, they’ll find it hard to keep waltzing – unless they can get you to change back.)

The challenge here is to figure out how to avoid letting other people’s fear become your fear. If the other person is a family member, you have the exciting opportunity to practice setting and maintaining boundaries. “Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve considered the pros and cons of this, and I’m forging ahead with it” is the basic message you want to send.

Better yet, find a group of people who are courageous like you and hang with them. You can visit various MeetUp groups; connect with like-minded people through professional development courses and continuing education classes offered through your local community college; or even start a group of SME’s – Success-Minded Entrepreneurs – who will commit to supporting each other.

Be a visionary.

All too often, when contemplating the chance to play a bigger game, we picture You may have to handle some uncomfortable tasks to succeed.worst-case scenarios. (I think of it as returning to childhood and woefully singing, “Nobody likes me; everybody hates me. Might as well eat worms…”.)

Why not turn your excellent imagination and rock-star creativity to a more productive use? Instead of picturing what you fear, picture what you desire. Mike Dooley recommends the following guidelines for making the most of visualization as a creative tool:

• Visualize just once per day, for 10 minutes max.
• Be sure to see yourself in your future life!
• Bring all your physical senses to bear while imagining.
• Bask in the emotions you’ll experience as a result of having your ideal life.
• Focus on the end result, NOT on how you’ll achieve that result!

I landed an incredibly cool speaking gig at an international conference using visualization as one of my creative tools. Participants had breakthroughs, I had a whole lot of fun, and I gained three new clients.

Be thankful ahead of time.

This is probably one of the trickier ones for me to remember and apply on a consistent basis.

Once you’ve clearly identified your desired end result and are regularly visualizing how it will feel to have achieved it, express your gratitude for it. Although we’re more usually taught to say “thank you” after receiving something, being grateful before you receive it is the ultimate act of faith: Although you don’t currently experience your desired outcome in your physical reality, you’re acting as if it’s already here.

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So what do you think? Is it time to give faith a chance? Are you ready to refuse to let other people’s fear keep you small? Then woohoo for you!

Or are you kind of overwhelmed at the thought of adding this mindset-shifting homework to your already overflowing Too Much To Do List? In that case, I might be able to shift you from deer-in-the-headlights to behind-the-wheel.

What my clients tend to most appreciate about our work together is the way I show them how to cut through the mental clutter, get clear on what really needs doing, create action plans for getting it done, and hold them accountable for those plans. Is that something I can help you with? Maybe. Maybe not. The easiest way to figure out the answer is to get acquainted during a 30- to 40-minute call. By the time we’re done, we’ll know if we’re a fit for each other or not.

If you’re ready to see if the answer is “fit” or “not a fit”, just email me with “I’m no chicken!” in the subject line. We’ll set up our no-risk-to-nobody get-acquainted call and see what shakes out.

(By the way, thanks to dryhead for the fear image and Celestine Chua for the pillow image; I found both in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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