How To Overcome The Fear: 7 Lessons from the Greatest Of All Time


In this post, 7 of the world’s greatest individuals teach us a lesson on how we can overcome our fears, and start living up to our full potential.

This list is like a menu: you don’t have remember each quote or use each action. But pick the ones that resonate with you, apply them to your life, and watch your levels of success and happiness soar!

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1. “Fears are nothing more than states of mind.” -Napoleon Hill (Author of Think And Grow Rich)

Fear is not real. It’s simply a mental construct. We control our fears, they don’t control us.

Action: Next time you feel fear, acknowledge its presence. And ask yourself, “what would the best version of myself do in this situation?”

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2. “It’s OK to get butterfly in your stomach; the key is to learn how to make them fly in formation.” -Georges St-Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion)

Everyone gets scared. Even the best in the world. George St-Pierre openly admits that he gets scared before every fight, but he also points out that if he wasn’t scared, he wouldn’t  perform at his best.  Fear produces adrenalin and has the potential to put us in “superman mode”.

Action: When you feel scared, take 3 deep breaths. As Fritz Pearl, founder of Gestalt therapy, tells us: “Fear is excitement without the breath”.

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3. “Always, always, always do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain”Ralph Waldo Emerson (Awesome 19th century philosopher)

We can train our “Fear Mastery muscle” by doing scary things regularly. Personally, the 30 Day Cold Shower Challenge is the best way I’ve found to do that.

Action: Right now, yes right this instant, make a commitment to your higher self that next time you feel fear, you’ll move forward instead of running away.

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4. “There was never any fear for me, no fear of failure. If i miss a shot, so what? I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career, I’ve lost more than 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that’s why I succeed.” –Michael Jordan (Retired NBA player- in case you didn’t know! :P)

Fear of failure stifles creativity, destroys promising ideas, and stops us from realizing our dreams.  Personally, I’ve started taking the mindset that the only way to fail is by not trying. My life is way better (and I kick more ass) since I’ve adopted that approach.

Action: When you start thinking about failure, stop yourself. Start visualizing the best possible outcome instead. What would it look like if everything worked out perfectly?

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5. “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie (Author of How To Make Friends & Win Influence)

Whatever scary project we want to undertake, the moment we get the ball rolling, fear dissipates. We get so involved in the process that we forget to be scared. It’s magical.

Action: When you feel scared, think of 1 thing you can do right now to get you closer to your desired outcome, and just do it.

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6. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?” -Marianne Williamson (Peace Activist & Writer)

Wow. How great is that? Not being afraid of greatness is something I’m still coming to terms with. But I’m starting to realize that the only way to live life to the fullest (and bring our greatest contribution to the world) is by shining brightly and expressing our talents fully.

Action: Right now, take a second to appreciate yourself: who you are, who you are becoming. And commit to becoming all that you can be. Greatness is in all us of, but it’s up to us to bring it out! There is no honor in staying average just to avoid standing out from the crowd.

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7. “What developed in my early days was the attitude to start attacking the thing I was scared of”. –Will Smith (Actor & Singer)

Attacking fear. I love it! What a powerful way to live life! Whenever we feel scared, it’s time to go forward and make magic happen.  (If you haven’t seen Will Smith’s mesmerizing Feel Good philosophy video, watch it here. It’s really worth it.)

Action: When you feel scared, imagine that the scary thing is a dragon, and you’re holding a magic shield. When you’re facing the dragon, the shield protects you. You’re invincible. But the moment you turn around, you expose yourself and the dragon will get you. Attack your fear, and you’ll destroy it. Retreat, and it will destroy you. I know it’s silly, but it works.

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Here’s the key take-away from all this: You need to become comfortable with fear, embrace it, and train your Fear Mastery muscle. Once it becomes strong enough, you’ll be able to use fear  to get into “superman mode” and accomplish feats that would have otherwise been impossible.

The greatest moments in life generally come right on the other side of fear- so let’s start playing in our “zone of fear” more often, and become Fear Masters so we can really live our life to the fullest.

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Now it’s your turn to share some of your mojo to help me & other readers: What’s your best strategy to overcome fear? How do you make yourself do the things you’re afraid of?

Cheers!
Phil

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Posted on : 5, Sep 2011

28 Comments

  • I loved the Michael Jordan one… It really gives great perspective that…

    Success and FAILURE are apart of the same thing. Apart of GOING after life. It is a fact, that if you succeed you HAVE to fail with it.

    I'll keep this piece of wisdom in my pocket ALL day!

    Surfs up,

    • "Success and FAILURE are apart of the same thing. Apart of GOING after life." I love that.

      It kinda aligns with the quote I've had in mind all day! "“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” –Roosevelt

  • I fail my exsam 4 times cuz i was so freaking scared o.O Everything i knew just went away, it was so unreal..first thing when i walk out of the class room i started to know everything i learn for the exsam. I tryed to breathe, to imagine i'm not in class room, but there was no air, it was too hot and i just panic :/

    • Hey Lora, next time you see your doctor make sure you let them know about it. They'll be able to help you (or refer you to the right person) so it doesn't happen again. Good luck!

  • I think fear is the #1 people should focus on leaving behind them to be happy, healthy and start living a life with less stress and more of what they want.

    I've practiced it for a long time.. breaking through fear. From when I was a kid in a small town, I broke free and left early on with goal to go to college unlike most I knew or grew up with. I didn't want to stay stuck like everyone else.

    I found out at 32 that I did not know how to swim In fact was afraid of it, when I entered my first small triathlon. I went on to do 9 Ironmans (2.4 mile swim involved).

    Recently I sold everything and moved to Hawaii to live my dream now instead of wait until I "retirement age" to do such a thing.

    So I still practice but I"m getting better at going for it and its the message I feel I can share with others.

    More people like you letting people know that they can do it too is what we need in our fear-based world for sure!

    • Hey JT! Thanks for your kind worlds, I appreciate it.

      Very cool journey you've had so far! Way to go for it, I love it.

      I'm doing my first multi-sport race, the Anaconda (http://www.rapidascent.com.au/anacondaadventurerace/wa/) in 2 months… What's your best piece of advice regarding energy dosage during the race (it's a 4 hour race)?

  • Phil,

    The past couple of months I have been taking skydiving lessons and, even though I'm still a "student" I can now jump solo. Here's a few things I do . . .

    Before the jump I try to allow plenty of time and slow down everything I do. I double check the equipment so that I'm comfortable instead of feeling rushed.

    Before getting in the plane I rehearse what I need to do during the jump so that it's automatic and I don't have to think.

    When we're in the plane climbing to altitude I focus outside myself on the other jumpers by doing simple things like smiling and making small talk.

    When it's my turn to jump, I pay attention to where I place my hands and feet in the doorway of the plane.

    Overall, the more I slow down, pay attention and focus outside myself, the less scary it is. . . . but it's still scary! :)

    Kurt

    • Hey Kurt, great advice, thanks for sharing! Skydiving a certainly good way to push fear out of the way…

      It's funny, that actually reminds of the preparation I do before I have an important presentation, meeting.. Be there early, rehearse the event in my head, make sure the last few minutes I'm relaxed and having fun, then finish by getting my energy up right and going through a little mental check list before it's go time.

      Cheers and keep rocking it!

  • #4: "You always fail if you never try" ;)

    • Definitely took that one from the Horga guide to life success! :)

  • I love the way you used quotes to illustrate your points.

    Lets not forget that the most successful people in the world all failed at some point. What separates those people from others is that they continued to try regardless of the setbacks. They had a vision for success and either by necessity or passion, tooth or by nail they summoned up the courage to get over their fears and continue regardless.

    • That's exactly it.

      Once we get in the mindset that I'll just keep trying until I succeed… then success is almost guaranteed.

      It sure takes a lot of character to recover from failure, and that's why I think it's so valuable to build up our character by constantly challenging ourselves. That way, when something bigger comes along, we'll be ready to handle it.

      • Building up the attitude in overcoming obstacles in the first place is the difficulty.

        I once wrote a post on maintaining your momentum; in it I used the analogy of starting a wheel spinning. It is difficult at first to overcome the inertia. Once the wheel is spinning it requires much less input to maintain the momentum.

        Getting to the stage where your mental "wheel" is spinning freely is a huge part of personal development. Probably THE most important part. It would be impossible to try new growth experiences if you could't pick up any pieces afterwards.

        • That's a really interesting analogy, I'd never looked at it in the sense of personal growth. I'll keep that one in mind.

          I have a similar one relating to trying to get in shape.. The first 2-3 weeks of getting back into working out is like a train leaving the station.. it feels ackward, skretchy, and plain uncomfortable… but once you get the train going, it actually feels really easy and natural!

          • Lets hope it's not like the trains in the south of England, they never get going in the first place!

            "The wrong kind of snow"

  • What if my current fear takes the form of a lightning-fast 3 inch long centipede that just ran under my bed?

    Hahaha I actually have some insight from this. I think I'm more afraid of what my reaction will be if the centipede crawls on me while I'm sleeping than the actual centipede itself. Which further proves the point that fear is a state of mind! Look at that…maybe I'll actually try to get some sleep now.

    I know the fear you are talking about is less mundane (fear of failure and the like) but I just thought I'd share this. It works :)

    • Hahahah well it sure put a smile on my face :)

      We have these crazy cockroaches here in Australia.. The first few times I saw them I would literally freak out, but luckily I've realized that despite their hideousness they're totally harmless, so I don't mind them anymore.

      Anyways, hope you managed to get to sleep! :)

  • I love fear. Overcoming problems with other people is so much less of a challenge than overcoming (fear) with ourself… because we already know all of our own tricks! When we're afraid I think it's just an opportunity to get to know ourselves better and be more in control of our actions/reactions, helping us achieve our desired outcomes.

    (But I still get the jitters when I see a big spider and often ask my kitty to help me out.)

    • "When we’re afraid I think it’s just an opportunity to get to know ourselves better" I love that. So true.

      Hahah good thing you've got a courageous kitty :)

  • SUCH a great article, I needed to read this :) I can definately see now that the things I fear doing are really the most important to accomplish and I believe the bliss will follow if I can follow through.

    For me, its not a fear of failing, but doing the work around it so that I can get to where I want to be. I know in my heart once the shift takes place, my courage will skyrocket and before I know it my bucketlist will be full of check marks. I love that quote “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination.” I see so much truth in that.

    Thank you for writing this article Phil ~ it needed to be said, it needed to be readed and now I’m one step closer to attacking my fears & following my bliss. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney (That is next to my bedside table, my morning motivation for 2012)

  • SUCH a great article, I needed to read this :) I can definately see now that the things I fear doing are really the most important to accomplish and I believe the bliss will follow if I can follow through.

    For me, its not a fear of failing, but doing the work around it so that I can get to where I want to be. I know in my heart once the shift takes place, my courage will skyrocket and before I know it my bucketlist will be full of check marks. I love that quote “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination.” I see so much truth in that.

    Thank you for writing this article Phil ~ it needed to be said, it needed to be read and now I’m one step closer to attacking my fears & following my bliss. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney (That is next to my bedside table, my morning motivation for 2012 ;)

    • Hey Emily, thanks so much for the great comment.

      I totally hear you on the fear of the work. I’m trying to finish my first eBook and every time I think about the workload I’ll need to do by the end of the month it frightens me, but if I break it down into small chunks I know I can’t get there.

      If you want to build a brick wall, you have to lay one brick, and then another, and then another… and eventually you have a wall :)

      2012 will be a great year for you I’m sure. Good luck!

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  • Hey Phil I’m 15 yrs old and every day I get scared of will my Bully attack me or what is he planning honestly, I tried letng people know but mainly in code words they are telling me to fight back I’m kind. Always get the butterflies by they never go away so please tell me how I can over come It I’m literally crying because I’m turd of being the fearful one instead of m bully every day I worry what’s going to happen I he’s going to try something today or tomorrow IM TIRED so please help.

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  • Always do your best and Know that the more you fail the more you may learn the more you learn the better you become. After going through so many situations you evolve. Failures are opportunities to learn. The more opportunities you learn from the better.

So, what do you think?