Fear is debilitating, yet most of us struggle with it at various points in our life. Even CEOs, managers, and leaders are not exempt. I once heard that “98% of the things we worry about never happen." Of course I have also heard that 74.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot to justify our position, so I am not sure how accurate that statistic is. I can assure you that in my own life, I have found it to be very much on the mark. Though fear can be a motivator, more often than not it controls us, binds us, and holds us back. Even the most confident and successful people struggle with hidden fear. We would likely all be surprised if we were able to look behind the mask of those who seem the most confident. Many of them are haunted by the fear of failure.
Here is the crazy part: if you sat down with a life coach and shared your fears and they turned to you and asked if those fears benefitted you in some way, you would almost always respond with a resounding “No." Most of us would immediately ask them to help us overcome our fear. Why? Because fear is irrational and can be debilitating. Fear is the underlying factor for many who are constantly trying to prove themselves and still others who are on anti-depressants.
Have you ever wished you could just “Stop it?” Humor is often the best way to face our fears. I recently remembered a clip I had seen of one of my favorite comedians addressing this topic. Bob Newhart is a comedic genius. His timing and dry whit are impeccable. In a comedy skit called “Stop It," he helps a patient address her irrational fear. He explains that he charges $5 for the first five minutes and absolutely nothing after that. When she explains that his fee seems too good to be true, he explains that none of his sessions ever go the full five minutes. He then tells her to go. She explains that she has a fear of being buried alive in a box. Once he knows he fully understands her problem, he ask her if she is ready for the solution. She hurriedly takes out a pad and pen as he expresses that the solution is a simple as two words. He then yells across the desk at her to “Stop It." Now I realize I can not do justice to this skit short comedy sketch. Still I hope you will take the time to look it up and watch it. It is only six minutes in length and will certainly make you smile as you go through the rest of your day.
The purpose is not to mock your fears. After all, at the time we are focused on them, our fears can seem amazingly real. My hope is, as you laugh through the video you too will realize that much of what we fear is not rational. It might help you to remember this acrostic for the word FEAR:
F – False
E – Evidence
A – Appearing
R - Real
There are plenty of real challenges and opportunities worthy of our attention. The next time you awake in the middle of the night (as I often do), to some irrational fear, just shout out “Stop It!” But warn your partner, or they will be the one dealing with irrational fear the remainder of the night! Now go out there and succeed!