Overcome Fear by Asking One Simple Question

I think fear is hard-wired in many of us. Those who have overcome fear have had to work hard at it. Up until my mid to late 20s, I believed that failure under any circumstances was unacceptable. This limited my willingness to take reasonable risks in life, whether personal or professional.

Famous Failures

There are so many famous failure examples. A teacher once told Thomas Edison that he was “too stupid to learn.” Oprah was fired from her first TV job. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Imagine if these individuals would have given up and quit. How many people destined for greatness have given up and quit in the face of failure?

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

What helped me get through the initial challenges and uncertainty with the new role? First, I started asking myself one simple question. What’s the worst that can happen? There is power in this question. First, it allows you to go directly to rock bottom and work your way back up to a more reasonable scenario.

The point is even the worst-case scenario didn’t seem all that bad after really thinking it through. Though we were in a lot of debt back in 2011, it wasn’t so much debt that we couldn’t get by on the small amount of savings combined with other temp jobs. We most likely wouldn’t lose our house, go hungry, or do something worse. As long as we have a roof over our head, food on the table, and a healthy family, we know we can get through anything.

Be Willing to Get Fired

A few years ago, one of our senior leaders retired. She had been with the organization for 20 years. She started a department from scratch with about 80 individuals on the team. During her retirement speech, I’ll never forget the advice she gave. “Come in every day and be willing to get fired for the right reasons.” She said we should all stand up for what we believe in and be willing to fight those things even if it means getting fired.

If you have a solid financial foundation, you can take this approach. If you are so job dependent that losing it would mean losing your home, bankruptcy, or worse, you may take the safe route. 

Minimize Lifestyle Inflation

One final point here. Minimizing lifestyle inflation was a critical aspect of setting a solid financial foundation. Giving in to lifestyle inflation would have made the worst-case scenario look much different. Even though our income has increased since 2011, our lifestyle has mostly stayed the same.

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