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Overcoming Fear

Fear, Fear and More Fear!

By Col. John Boggs

Over the past few weeks, I have heard so much about fear the very word is making my stomach turn. Many others have also worn weary hearing about all the things one must fear.  From bullies and criticism to inept drivers to high cholesterol to high blood pressure, the list goes on. One fear many working adults have is the fear of never taking the next big step in a career, or expanding a business and taking risks.  This fear often holds people back from achieving their goals, becoming successful and changing their lives for the better.

The good news is; there is a way to defeat fear. It’s a two-step process. First, you must conquer fear through knowledge and second, you must take action.

Step One—Knowledge

Step one is gaining knowledge about the thing that frightens you. First, ask yourself—what are you afraid of?  Is it a bully, or is it harsh criticism? Are you afraid of rejection or failure at work?

Once you’ve determined what you’re afraid of, get the facts. Find out how to best interact with a bully at school or work, and learn the differences between criticism and rudeness. Talk with your doctor about how to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Weigh the risks and payoff of asking for that promotion at work.

In today's digital environment, the Internet is rich with helpful and informative information. However, be aware that everything you read may not be accurate. Go to reputable sources such as colleges and newspapers with great reputations and long history of reporting accurate news, and learn what recognized authorities and journalists say on the subject you’re researching.

Once again, beware as anyone can write anything. Don’t trust blogs or open forums where people tend to put their opinions above facts. I recommend you read up on the subject that is frightening you from a number of different sources. I guarantee that within a relatively short amount of time, you will learn more than ever imaginable and in return, become less afraid. Of course, you can also go to the library and find information on practically any subject to fill a truck.  

Step Two—Action

Once you have gotten the facts, and actually learned something new about what frightens you, take action.

Learning to drive defensively will go a long way to prevent you from becoming the next victim of an inept driver. Becoming involved in your local community and government, voting when there’s an election, and holding a representative accountable for his or her actions or inactions will ensure your voice is heard. Exercising and eating healthy will reward you with a healthier mind and body, destroying the fear in its tracks.

When it comes to facing fears at work, ask for a time to talk with your boss and discuss your goals and recent achievements. Talk with a financial professional about how to start your own company, or expand your current business.

Beating Fear

Some schools of thought would offer that some fear is good. I agree. When fear drives a person to learn and take action that is particularly felicitous. However, sitting in fear, wrapped-up in all the potential harm that can come, is a recipe for disaster.

We are born with fear. We are born with two; some argue three fears—the fear of falling, the fear great heights, and the fear of sudden loud noises. We have to learn to be fearful of everything else.

Amazingly, we get over the born fear of falling. Most of us can ride a bike, roller skate and some can even climb mountains. We get over the fear of great heights, most of us, as evidenced by the growing lines at airports during the holidays. Regarding loud noises, most of us are still startled by a surprising noise, yet concerts and loud sporting events are many people’s favorite past times.

We learn to be afraid. Fear sells. Fear freezes the senses. Fear keeps organizations from realizing exponential successes, and people from becoming everything they can become. Fear of criticism, failure, speaking, and taking risks handcuffs many of us to mediocrity.


It is too easy to say, “Stop being afraid." At some point in our lives, we are all afraid of something. However, you now have the two steps to get over that fear. Every great inventor in history faced criticism. Every entrepreneur and CEO has feared and encountered failure. Even the great Hall of Fame Basketball Star, Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots. He has one of the great quotes concerning failure "…I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Overcoming your fear takes bravery, but it is not impossible.  It’s better to learn how to live a healthy life and take action and live in fear and wonder “what if?” Knowledge and action are the keys to fighting fear.

Colonel John Boggs U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) works with outstanding leaders to leverage talent in order to dramatically improve performance and rapidly exceed goals.

Colonel John Boggs U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) works with outstanding leaders to leverage talent in order to dramatically improve performance and rapidly exceed goals.

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