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Fearless Living: Do What You Are Afraid to Do

Fearless Living: Do What You Are Afraid to Do

What is your greatest fear?

Fear is a powerful emotion, and is the reason why most people don’t reach their full potential in life.

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As toddlers, before we took our first step, we all had the fear of falling. Imagine how terrifying it must be for a toddler to contemplate taking that very first baby step; most of us likely fell on our first try, but we took another step. and yet another, until we could eventually crawl, walk and finally run.

Imagine if we all never took that first baby step because of fear.

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It sounds unthinkable and yet a lot of us refuse to take that very first small baby step in our lives. We languish in one spot, letting fear take over our lives and condemn us to inaction. We deserve better. We all should lead fulfilling and productive lives free from the chains that fear uses to bind us, and the easiest way to get rid of fear is to demystify it. How do we demystify fear?

We demystify fear by doing what we are afraid of doing. Simply that, and nothing more.

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Recently, I challenged myself to do one bold thing a day. I would think of one thing I’m afraid of doing but would like to accomplish in a given day, and then I would set a goal for myself to do that very thing.

It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes I fail, but sometimes I succeed, and when I do succeed it is an amazing feeling. I am often shocked that I was able to do what I was so afraid of doing, and the resulting effect is like having scales fall from my eyes. All of a sudden, I see new vistas of possibilities, and I believe that I can do even more things that I never imagined possible. I set even bolder goals and keep failing and sometimes succeeding. Doing this frequently lets you realize that there is no shame in trying and failing. In a sense, we must fail in order to succeed. Just like we experienced as toddlers when trying to learn how to walk, we must crawl in order to eventually learn how to run. There is no shame in crawling, falling and starting anew—this is the only way in which we can grow.

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In doing this, I have also found that the most important thing is not whether I have failed or succeeded. The most important thing is that I am on my way to ridding myself of my fear of accomplishing that goal. It is like my first crawl. I might fall but after falling, I often realize that it was not as bad as I thought it would be and I keep crawling, until I start walking and eventually running. Everyone deserves that feeling of liberation- that feeling of being able to stare fear in the face and call its bluff.

The idea is to expose yourself to the potential of failing. By doing this, you reduce fear’s power over you as you are already vulnerable, thus greatly diminishing what you have to lose. The trick is in taking that first step towards taking risk in spite of fear. It’s a vulnerable state, but one that strengthens you over time.

Overcoming fear is one of the greatest battles of our lives. We owe it to ourselves to win daily small battles over fear. It builds endurance and removes fear’s power over our lives.

Wouldn’t you rather live fearlessly? I would. It starts today. Write down one thing you are afraid of doing and do it. If you fall, pick yourself up and try again. Do this over and over again until you defeat your fear of doing that thing.

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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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