Fear Less | Jennifer Magley
“Fearless, that’s how I walk into a business meeting,” I say with my eyes focused solely on the foreign delegate.
He shivers at my intensity as the translator interprets often matching me word for word. Later he likens me to a "revolutionary with endless confidence which some could interpret as... arrogance."
“Thank you.” I respond as graciously as I can assuming this is a compliment.
How did I get so bombastic, so sure of myself, so seemingly unafraid of the big moments in life?
Being fearless is not something you are or are not, it is in fact a decision to fear less.
The last decade has held many lessons for me as a coach of elite athletes, executives, and founders yet the greatest lesson I have learned is how to fear less.
When it comes to humanity’s number one fear, public speaking, I have learned through experience how to make it my caddie. It turns out fear is best used when you put it to work. Ask fear to go fetch you a cold bottle of courage and a Big Bertha Golf Driver. Then while it’s gone, swing boldly for the long drive.
Being fearless is not something you are or are not, it is in fact a decision to fear less. Nothing illustrates this more completely than a highlight reel of me confronting my fears set to music on Youtube. That’s right, if you are looking for a laugh look no further.
Furthermore, fear is learned and experienced. It is an emotion and a powerful one at that. Incredible to think that an emotion or thought can trigger physiological changes like rapid heart beat, sweatiness, and in clinical cases full blown paralysis. I too have fallen prey to overt battles with fear that have carried me to cardiac doctors and gastro experts.
"what is 'stress' but a fancier way of saying scared?"
Stress is the day to day word for fear. As the ugly cousin of the more popular word "busy," it gets tossed around more quietly. Often busy is a badge of honor while stressed is a personal problem. Let's face the facts, what is "stress" but a fancier way of saying scared?
To arm yourself with more options in being fear less, here are two dogged tips that help me overcome my fears:
#1 Rage Against The Machine
That's right. When fear strikes in the form of a performance evaluation, a meeting, or pre-speech jitters my recommendation is: have a mini sober rager.
Jump up and down, turn on your music, and let it all out (ideally in private) before the main event. Picture a great athlete before they go in the ring or on the field. Typically they are hopping from foot to foot and shaking those shoulders out.
Scientifically this is an effective way to combat fear as the movement allows your body to release endorphins (nature's painkiller) ultimately reducing stress. Before going onstage for a big event I typically try to steal away. Maybe I'll hide in the bathroom, maybe meditate but inevitably it will end in a full on rager (in a stairwell) unbeknownst to to the audience. This may not be a cute way to overcome fear but it beats throwing up.
#2 Get Fatally Focused
Picture what you would do if this was your last moment of impact. What legacy do you want to leave beyond the fear that you are feeling? By imagining the end, how do you begin this day full of responsibilities and potential anxieties? In giving a speech this means summoning your inner Celine Dion and going for the moment with full abandon, try to hit the high note.
" I will live this day as if it is my last. This day is all I have and these hours are now my eternity." -Og Mandino
The bad news: like a bad habit, fear will never completely go away.
The good news: fear is malleable. Consider fear to be more like H20. Sometimes it is steam at other times water, and in the winter here in Indiana, it is called ice. It may always be hanging around but it does not have to dominate. Take command and fear less today.