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14 Ways to Be Fearless

14 Ways to Be Fearless

We all have fear – it’s an emotion that’s as normal as breathing.

The problem is that most people cling to their fears, and are therefore unable to move forward in their lives with necessary change.

I have learned a lot about fear in my life as a professional musician, and I’ve learned that the only difference between people who achieve greatness and those who do not is that the former ditched their fear.  Many of the methods I have used to prepare for huge performances have helped me to conquer fear in other areas of life.

Here’s how you can start overcoming fear:
1. Be aware of fear in your life. Before you can begin overcoming fear, you have to admit that you have it. Perhaps fear is your “normal” state of being, and that is quite a bit to overcome all at once.  Write down some aspects of your life where have fear;  getting them down on paper is important, because trying to simply think them through never works.

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2. Stare at fearless people.  Fill your brain with images of what you want your “future self” to look like.  Connect with as many role models as you can, whether in person, through a book, or online.  Use these examples as an energy source to combat your fear.

3. Be objective. Take an interest in investigating your fears. Ask yourself about what thoughts generate your fear, where you feel the fear, and how you react to it. Try to be an objective observer of your own life.

4. Be willing to look stupid.  Remember:  Wayne Gretzky fell on his tail a ton, and Itzhak Perlman has had horrible performances.  Once you are willing to risk the emotional pain of making mistakes, you will shed more fear than you ever imagined.  Know that making mistakes will help you obtain information you use to create the correct behaviors, and that everyone who has ever done something great has failed more than once.

5. Adopt a mindset of gratitude. Whenever you feel fear, try to feel grateful instead. I have been performing a lot of solos recently, and it is scary!  Instead of freaking out, I have decided to be grateful for the opportunity to communicate musically with so many people, and I know that they are there to genuinely listen to me play and root me on.

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6.  Seek out teachers.  It’s never too late to have a teacher; we are never done learning.  Seek out someone who scares you a littlenot a polite person who always makes you feel warm and fuzzy.  Seek out someone who watches you closely, is brutally honest, and gives clear directions on how you can get better at whatever scares you.

7. Share. How often do we hold the negative in because we are afraid of how others might react?  Sharing helps, because you will realize that many people feel the same way as you do, and have stories to share as well.  Do you have a fear of success, or a fear of failure?  Sharing with someone can help you examine what you truly want from life, and where your fears come from.

8. Embrace struggle.  Most of us instinctively avoid struggle, because it feels like failure, and that scares us, but the term “no pain, no gain” holds true.  To develop our skills, it is a necessity that we struggle, so we must embrace it.  Once we struggle, fear slowly disintegrates.

9. Read. My personal favorite. Reading a good book related to your specific fear can open new doors on how you can get rid of it. I constantly fill my world with motivational and inspirational books on, and related to, the topic I’m dealing with.

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10. Use visualization. Imagine yourself in a scary situation without fear. Watch people do things fearlessly that would normally freak you out.  Visualize yourself as that person.  Create a very clear picture of fearlessness in your mind.

11. Put things in perspective. Putting your negative thoughts in perspective is a huge way to overcome fear. In the grand scheme of life, why are you afraid? While you are freaking out about something, life is moving on without you.  Sometimes it’s helpful to remember this.

12. Release control. Of course we want to be in control, but when we relinquish it we tend to free ourselves up.  Allow yourself to make mistakesafter all, that’s where learning and growth really happens.  We learn from our failures, but to fail we need to release control.

13. Think about the worst case scenario. What’s the worst that could happen? I have crumbled on stage in front of hundreds of people. My wife still loved me; I lived. Life goes on.

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14. Look within. What is the root of your fear? Meditate on it. Look inside and ask yourself when the fear started: How far back does your fear go? Did you have an early failure that has stuck with you?  Explore it.  That’s what life is all about.

Overcoming fear requires a growth mindset; an attitude that we can grow and change if we choose. Nothing is “locked in” forever; we can change.  It takes time and practice.  Hopefully the tips above will help you begin your journey to ditch fear.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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