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Dealing With Risk and Fear

Jun 16, 2008
Fear is a powerful emotion and can stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. But the formula above has worked for us for over thirty five years, and it will work for you. It's the formula that will transport you from here to there. It's real and it works. It will help you manage and minimize your fear, allowing you to realize your dreams and accomplish your goals.

The dictionary defines fear as: an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger. Many people are so afraid of taking a risk that they never make a move. We can all find any number of reasons to be afraid: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of making a mistake, fear of being rejected, fear of looking foolish. All of these are understandable fears, but none of them is a reason to stay stuck.

When we tell our life story, we usually convey an image of strength and confidence. But don't be fooled. We're as fearful of the unknown as anyone else. If you think we weren't scared when we packed up and moved to the Caribbean, think again. And if you think we weren't afraid of looking foolish when we wrote our first book, you're wrong. And can you imagine how scared we were when we had to recall thousands of bottles of Sesame Seed Dressing from stores all over the country because of yeast contamination? Talk about fear. We had visions of losing everything. "This is it," we thought. "It's over."

But here we are to tell the tale. And we're here to tell you that fear can be managed and minimized. When we first learned that we had to pull our Sesame Seed Dressing off the shelves, we were standing in our booth at the Fancy Food Show in Washington D.C. talking to the buyer from Macy's: Suddenly, ka-pow! One of our dressing bottles exploded off the shelf. We called food technicians and experts to gain as much information as we could. We needed to know what was going on. We needed to understand all of the dangers and the repercussions. It felt like we had produced toxic waste and the image of people getting sick - or worse - because of something we had done wrong was unbearable. We were instructed to call all of our accounts and tell them to carefully dispose of the dressing.

The more we learned, the more we realized there were people to help us who had been through this before. We learned that there are systems in place to deal with problems like ours and that companies did, in fact, survive. Perhaps, we thought, they won't send us to jail after all. We discovered that our recall was child's play compared to what other companies had experienced. We had toasted some sesame seeds in a local bagel shop, taking advantage of their giant oven to get the job done quickly. What we hadn't known was that the yeast in the air from the bagels would contaminate our seeds. Once we bottled the dressing, the yeast spores slowly multiplied, eventually growing in such great numbers that the caps started to pop off the bottles. Thankfully, further research revealed that the biggest danger was that someone might get hit with a flying bottle cap. That was certainly a problem but nobody was going to die of botulism.

Knowledge always trumps fear. As soon as we had researched and evaluated what was happening, our fear started to dissipate. The more knowledge we gained about food recalls, the more confident we became that we would survive the situation and that gave us confidence in our ability to conduct ourselves professionally. Within a few days, we had spoken with all of our accounts and they had disposed of all the dressing. Problem solved. Life is scary when you focus on what can go wrong instead of learning how to overcome the real - or perceived - risks. Learn how to evaluate problems as they arise in the same way you'll begin to evaluate the risks associated with each of your goals.

6 Tips to Managing Fear

1) Knowledge always trumps fear. Learn as much as possible about whatever it is you're afraid of.

2) Focus on the positive, not on what can go wrong.

3) Staying the course can be just as risky as making a change. Recognize that avoiding risk will not protect you from harm.

4) The more actively you pursue your dream, the more likely you are to forget about your fears. Don't let fear immobilize you.

5) Don't waste time worrying about things you cannot change.

6) The worst-case scenario is seldom as bad as you think.

Life is full of challenges, but that's no reason you shouldn't be able to do what you want to do. Remember that just as change is defined differently by each of us, so too is risk. The risks involved with changing what you do for a living are pretty obvious, and it's easy to see how moving to a new location could elicit anxieties. But every change, no matter how personal or how private it is, comes with the possibility of failure and suggests a list of scary what-ifs. What if you can't lose weight, make new friends, master that hobby, or find the right job? No matter what your goals are, accepting some level of risk is imperative, even if the nature of that risk varies according to your individual situation. Dreams of all size require flexibility and if things don't go according to plan, you always have the option of redefining your goals to make them more achievable.

It's okay to feel afraid, but you don't have to let fear control your life. Don't let fear keep you from following through on your dream, whatever it is. Stop imagining the worst, over and over again. Instead, picture how good life could be if you made a change. Think how great you'll feel once you succeed.
About the Author
Bob and Melinda Blanchard are motivational, life change experts who teach people how to successfully navigate life transitions such as graduation, divorce, career change, starting a business or simply pursuing your dreams. To learn more about their books and how to live what you love, visit Live What You Love .
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