Fear sucks. It makes you, like, not want to do cool stuff that would probably make you rich and sexy and famous. It makes you feel itself. Which is weird. It’s like an emotional molester that no one is arresting for some reason. But arrest it we must. We must arrest for success.
In order to be successful, you are going to have to “feel your fear and do it anyway” as they say. When “they” say this, they normally mean little sissy fears like public speaking, quitting your job to start a business and base-jumping. Facing those fears is cool, but fairly superficial. I think we need to go deeper and face our feariest fears.
Face the following five fears, and stuff like talking to groups of humans who are usually more scared than you are and running a small business will seem like the child’s play that they truly are.
#1 Your Self
Face your self.
We may not realize it, but we are scared to death of ourselves—our real selves, our subconscious souls. Why? Because our true selves are gigantic spiritual beasts of awesomeness that should we or anyone else see them manifested in this warped Matrix we live in, we would die of a freaking heart attack on the spot. We are playing it small for a reason—were we to face our self, it would surely demand we do something epic and hard and dangerous. Yeah it might save the world and make us billionaires or whatever, but it’s probably going to be a lot of work. Screw that. Easier to clock in and out and just be all that everyone else can be.
We also don’t know who we are. Stranger danger. Who needs a new friend? Not me. I’m fine with what I got, thank you.
Want to face your self?
- Sit down in front of a mirror and tell yourself who you are for five minutes a day. Most people can’t do this for more than seven seconds without feeling hatred for their reflection and walking away. That’s how scared they are. Me personally, I start every morning running in place on a trampoline as fast as I can in front of a mirrored wall for five minutes. I look myself square in the eye, and I tell myself what a fierce, powerful, dangerous man I am. It’s a great way to start your day—endorphin flood and free motivational coaching session. The only bad thing is I’m not that coordinated, so I can’t talk and trampoline at the same time. I usually fall off and crash into something that doesn’t have much give to it. Right now I’m only a danger to myself. But I can feel the affirmation starting to kick in I think.
- Go to a therapist or get a group of friends together once a week and tell them every horrible thing you’ve ever done and every bad thing that’s ever been done to you. Sound stupid? Not one in a thousand people have the balls to do this. I double dare you.
- Go sit in a forest for three days in complete silence and just do nothing. See who you are with no people, TV, phone, laptop, radio, cars or noise besides owl hoots. To the degree this sounds unbearable to you, you don’t know who you are. You have never faced your self.
I torture myself with all of those things regularly. I do not fear my self. I am myself. When people meet with me, they don’t get a performance or an act. They don’t get a mask. They get ME. And they notice the difference between that meeting and the one before and after, believe me. Because ME is a beast—an uncoordinated and unfortunately safe beast (for now), but a beast nonetheless.
#2 Your Death
Face your death.
I just recently read a book called The Denial of Death by Dr. Ernest Becker, which I highly recommend (disclaimer: not light reading). In it he claims that we all have an Immortality Complex. We all fear death more than any other thing, but we live as though we are never going to die. In other words, consciously we have our backs turned to death and are pretending it doesn’t exist. Subconsciously we know it’s coming, fear it and are being controlled by it. We need to turn around and face it. Because there’s approximately a 100 percent chance it’s coming.
“No one can confidently say he will still be living tomorrow.” – Euripides
This would explain the ageism we see in the entertainment industry. Who wants to see a 70-year-old woman in music videos reminding us all that death is just around the corner? Bring in the Biebers.
Answer the question, What happens to me when I die? If you can’t answer it with confidence based on research, knowledge, faith and experience, then you necessarily fear death whether you know it or feel it consciously or not. And this is causing you to make irrational decisions on a regular basis not conducive to your success.
Me personally, I know exactly what happens when I die, and frankly, I’m looking forward to it. And as one of my favorite authors, John Eldridge says, “The most dangerous man on earth is the man who has reckoned with his own death.” So maybe I am dangerous after all.
In a nutshell (Why a nutshell? Why not a seashell?), if you don’t fear death, you don’t fear anything. Because what’s worse than death? Besides watching Madonna perform (I think she’s 72 now)?
But if you fear death, everything is necessarily a potential danger to you. Fear is the underlying current of your life affecting every decision you make. If you do not fear death, then you are a danger to everything else. Courage is the underlying current of your life. Which way will you have it?
#3 Your Face
Face your face.
“Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” – Abraham Lincoln
There’s a decent chance your face is pretty jacked. I only know this because I’m sitting in a really busy coffee shop right now literally surrounded by jacked-up faces. Frowns, wrinkles, bags, crooked teeth, Ethan Hawke-style facial hair patches, etc.
How are you supposed to talk people into buying stuff from you when you have a big fat frowny face? I mean it’s not impossible, but you’re stacking the odds not in your favor.
You may not fear your face. But it’s freaking me the F out. Fix it. Here’s how:
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep even if it means a small animal has to die in order to get it. I do not know why this animal should have to die, but I mean… just get some sleep so we don’t have to find out. All your wrinkles and bags will magically disappear.
- Smile. It’s a choice. Notice how Becca on The Bachelor is always frowning and can’t figure out why Ben doesn’t like her? Neither do I of course—I would never watch that crap. Haha. But I heard that’s what’s happening. Don’t be Becca.
- Get Invisalign braces. Invisible braces. Straight teeth do wonders for self-esteem and the ability to face your face. Financing is available. There is no excuse for an adult to have crooked teeth. Not in the United States anyway.
- If you can’t grow a full beard, stay clean-shaven at all times. Without the ability to grow a full beard, your five o’clock or three-day shadow looks like you have some sort of skin disease we all need to set up a GoFundMe page to help you raise money to fight.
#4 Your Father
Face your father.
This is the ultimate fear face off—you and your dad—mano a mano (whatever that means).
Write down a list of every thing your dad ever did that you feel is currently responsible for your life’s ills and any jail time you’ve ever spent. Schedule a sit down, and get it all off your chest. Then forgive him, give him a hug and tell him you love him anyway. What, do you think he had a perfect dad? Have mercy. I did this and can attest to its absolute necessity for both the relationship and your personal growth.
One out of maybe a million people will do this. If you have one of those dads who are scary, just remember this…. He’s acting scary because he is scared. Nothing is as it seems.
#5 Your Demons
Face your demons.
What are you addicted to? Alcohol? Drugs? Porn? My articles? Smoking? Anger (violence)? Work (anyone who works nonstop is running from something)?
Fess up publicly on Facebook and privately to someone who will keep you accountable. STOP IT. Unless it’s my articles—that’s a semi-safe addiction.
Moral of the story: You can set goals, do affirmations, manage your time well, visualize, do gratitude lists, and the whole gamut of self-help rigmarole. But if you don’t go DEEP and face your deepest fears, you will never have real and lasting success. Face the fears others will never have the guts to face, and you will have a life others never get to have.
Preston Ely is founder and CEO of RealEstateMogul.com, an Inc. magazine "Fastest Growing Company." He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company's "Most Influential People On The Internet." He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for SUCCESS.com for the fun of it. Follow him at PrestonEly.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.