Is it Real Fear or Fake Fear?

 I went skydiving one time. It wasn’t my idea. I was doing a summer internship and my boss surprised me with a skydiving day. We drove out to a hangar in the middle of Iowa cornfields. And he said, “it’s paid for, you can do it or not.”

So, I jumped. I knew I would never have another opportunity like that.

I’ve done other scary things- I’ve ran faster than I’d ever ran before, I’ve lifted weights I wasn’t sure I could do. I’ve swung from a trapeze 50 feet in the air. I’ve gone ziplining over the jungle.

But I’m not really an adrenaline junkie. I look at people that take serious physical risks (ummmm like Free Solo??? Don’t even get me started on the riskiness of some people) and I’m not one of them. I like to PUSH myself physically but setting yourself up for getting hurt is a whole other ballgame. I always say there is real fear and there is FAKE fear.

(And then there is the middle area of some real fear and some fake- like coming back from an injury or skiing (but I'll dive into that another day)

Real fear is ‘I may get hurt’. Fake fear is ‘my ego might get hurt’.

You know the kind. The public speaking kind of fear. The walking into a room where you know NO ONE. Getting called out in a big meeting about a mistake you made. Going on a first date. Having a difficult conversation you’ve avoided.

It’s fake fear. This is not to say that it doesn’t FEEL real. It totally does. Your body reacts EXACTLY as if you were in serious physical danger. We just have to remind ourselves it isn’t true. Otherwise we run away from it instead of towards it.

Because our perspective on that situation completely alters our fear level. For example, if you walked into a high school prom next week without a date, you probably wouldn’t even blink (after all you are there to be a chaperone). If you walked into your high school prom at 17 years old without a date, the old butterflies might be having a party in your stomach. Then again, if you were the most popular kid in school, maybe you just made not having a date cool.

Social risk is all about YOU. Breaking your leg after doing a jump is not.


In the Mindset Coach Academy Certification, we are working on taking risks this week. And it’s intense let me tell you. Because here is the thing, while there is a distinct evolutionary advantage to keeping ourselves PHYSICALLY safe, there is often distinct DISADVANTAGE to progress and growth to keeping ourselves overly socially safe. (and some gray area in between of course).

There is a big upside to being liked and accepted into social groups. It’s not that this instinct is wrong. It’s just that we sort of overshoot it. It used to be that we just needed to be liked by the 50 or so people in our tribe, now we want to be liked by everyone we ever encounter. And it’s unrealistic and often counterproductive to growth and progress.

When we keep ourselves socially safe we avoid ANY social risk. This manifests itself in these ways:

  • Not having difficult conversations with loved ones.
  • Not speaking up for our rights, our beliefs, or sharing our thoughts.
  • Staying small in our careers.
  • Not being a leader
  • Staying scared of offending people/always second guessing ourselves.
  • Not listening to and trusting our intuition
  • Not asking for a raise or promoting ourselves
  • Not finding a partner (if we want one)
  • Not growing in new, uncomfortable ways
  • Losing confidence in ourselves in our community
  • Letting our risk tolerance atrophy- Use it or lose it.
  • Stepping into a new hobby or activity we might not be good at initially.
  • Not letting the world know of our unique perspective, idea or gifts.
  • Not being vulnerable (which leads to a lack of true connection with others)


And here’s the deal- NO ONE BUT YOU KNOWS IF YOU ARE AVOIDING THESE THINGS. And even you are probably finding other excuses, (even if on a subconscious level) to avoid these things.

After all, none of us really want to admit that we aren’t tough enough to have a difficult conversation. No, we tell ourselves we will ‘someday’ or we build it up in our head and make the other person the villain, or we convince ourselves it’s not ‘that important’ (even though we clearly can’t let it go).

But in the MCA Certification, we are saying NO MORE excuses and taking action TOWARDS, not away from, the things that scare us the most. THAT is where true growth happens. We call it Running Towards Failure.

Tomorrow, I’m going to share with you what I’m doing that scares the S*** out of me.

But today, what are YOU avoiding?


Ps. One more thing. As a coach of young people, which many of you are, it's doubly important to push yourself socially. After all, as an adult it can be hard to really remember what it's like to care about your peers SO MUCH that you'll do things that undermine your future (like underperform because you want to be liked.) But that reaction is HUMAN, and we, as adults, do it too in other ways. It's important to remember that so you can empathize with your athletes and help them through those situations.


Note:  Applications for the Mindset Coach Certification are currently closed through spring of 2020. To be the first to know when applications open again, put your name on our waitlist.

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