You were born FEARLESS. As kids we jumped on skateboards without helmets, got behind the wheel of the neighborhood go-kart without pause, rode in backseats without seatbelts and ran through puddles in the rain just because. In each of those moments, we lived without fear, uncertainty or doubt. We lived in the moment, and the moment was truly fearless.

As time marched on, fear marched in. “Put a helmet on, you’re going to catch a cold; That’s not safe to do, you’re going to hurt yourself.” Simple words that were meant to protect us and said ever so lovingly. But the unintended consequence was that unconscious fear began to take root, effectively the birth of fear.

As we grew into our adolescent years, fear shifted to UNCERTAINTY. This played out through thousands of “what-if” scenarios in our heads. “What if I don’t make the team, what if I don’t do well on the test, what if they don’t like me.” As normal human beings, we like certainty, we like to know the outcome. As we have traveled through life, uncertainty grew more pervasive, and fear grew with it.

At some point, each of us has stumbled, and that stumble gave birth to DOUBT. “I’m not going to make the team; I’m going to fail the test; She doesn’t like me.” One thing I have learned about doubt is this – no one is immune to it. Some of the world’s greatest leaders and athletes talk about their early stumbles and doubts they had if they would ever make it – Oprah, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton just to name a few.

If we allow fear, uncertainty and doubt to settle into our beings, then surely thoughts of FAILURE will paralyze us next. “I’m not going to try out; I’m going to drop that class; I don’t like him anymore.” The fear of failure manifests itself as not wanting to try. Remember the words spoken to us as a kid to protect us from ourselves? Well now, we have moved onto self-preservation mode through self-talk. We are effectively insulating ourselves from being hurt, disappointed, or rejected. This is normal and ordinary.

You have the opportunity to conquer fear, thrive in uncertainty, and shut the door to doubt. You have the ability to truly b FEARLESS.

I want to take you on a short, easy-to-read pictorial journey over the next sixty minutes to provide you with a five-part framework to becoming a leader, making an impact, being good in the world, developing who you are, leaving a legendary legacy behind and truly being fearless.

Fear is real. I would be a liar if I told you fear does not exist. But I can promise you this – you can own your fear and beat it! I have had two major fears in life – a deathly fear of heights and a fear of my Dad passing away. Trust me, both of those fears are clear and present, just ask my family. If my Dad passed, I feared for my Mom and my special needs sister. How would they manage without my Dad around? Mom never drove a car, so how would they get groceries or visit the doctor? My family and I made a decision, we would move back to New Hampshire and take care of them, and almost instantly my fear was replaced with a true calmness, I knew my Mom and sister would be taken care of. The fear was confronted, owned if you will and subsequently beat.

Now about my fear of heights… I don’t think I will ever overcome this, but I also don’t let it stop me from experiencing life. I just have my own limit, which truly makes my kids laugh. In fact, my wife, best friend, and I decided to walk across the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco when she was 8 months pregnant. I figured that if she could do it in her condition, then I could face my fear. Well, she made it all the way over and back, and I am proud to say, I made it half-way over and slithered back. Confronted but not beaten… yet!

In life, fight fear, inch-by-inch, day-by-day, instance-by-instance, don’t let fear build momentum. You have the power to shut fear down with the strength you possess.

Uncertainty breeds uncomfortable-ness.  When we know an outcome is certain, we feel comfortable and maybe even confident.  But as the percentages slip from certain to uncertain, we become anxious, restless and perhaps even irritable.  Over the course of our lives, we will be put into thousands and thousands of uncertain situations, so are we really going to let ourselves live with anxiety and restlessness, or are we going to accept uncertainty and learn to embrace it.  Reflect on situations in your life when the cards have been stacked against you, but you overcame the odds and won.  Channel that reflection in times of uncertainty.

For many years, I was a turnaround executive parachuting into troubled companies to fix them.  Part of my responsibility was to remove the employees’ fears and feelings of uncertainty so they could focus on better serving our clients.  I took that responsibility seriously and committed 100% to all the employees so we would turn the company around and win.  Fundamentally, I was announcing a certain outcome.  Now, what I couldn’t tell them on day one was how.  That didn’t matter however, because the emphasis was on removing uncertainty and replacing it with confidence.

In life when confronted with uncertainty, follow these three steps:

  • First, focus on the outcome you want
  • Next, determine how you will achieve that outcome
  • Third, commit to do what it takes to win

When you consciously know the outcome you want, research has proven you are 50% more likely to achieve that outcome then someone who does not have a focused desired outcome. Once you know the desired outcome, you can then build the individual actions that will get you to that result.  And lastly, focus your mental energy on completing the daily actions with a clear picture of the desired outcome and you will be visualizing your success and illuminating your own path to success.

Doubt is the evil twin of uncertainty.  On our path of fear, right past uncertainty is doubt. You go from “I might not be successful,” to “I’m probably not going to be successful.”  The trigger for doubt is usually one of our “how’s” going wrong.  So how do we fight back against this escalator to fearVILLE?  We channel our resiliency and build our mental strength.  The important thing to consider is how do we build that mental strength reserve?  Doubt doesn’t send us a calendar notice of when it is going to pop up, so we need to build our mental strength daily.  There are so many ways to build mental strength but let me give you a few ideas that I have seen work for many of my colleagues.  Exercise – yes once you get past the initial curve of conditioning, exercise can be one of the most amazing mental strength builders.  A lot of people are group exercisers, and I am super envious of them.  For me, I like to be alone, get a sweat on, and reflect on “how” I am going to win the day.  Reading – spending quality time reading, reflecting and simply escaping the chaos of the day.  Prayer – getting a good prayer in is an amazing doubt reliever and leaves you feeling spiritually nourished.  Nutrition – getting good and healthy nutrients into your body to fuel your energy level is one of the most important things you can do to stay strong.  Family – stepping away from the grind and focusing on what may be most important to you allows you to reset your priorities and see things more clearly.  Gratitude – practicing gratitude and staying positive in the moment is a de-stressor and fills our head with good vibes.   Sleep – we all need our rest, and sometimes in the most challenging of times, we actually get less because we are worrying, when in fact we need our usual amount – and that should be seven to eight hours a night.

The fear of failure has been one of the greatest sources for the world’s most incredible achievements. Let’s think of this famous line: “Okay Houston, we have a problem here.” Those words were spoken on April 13, 1970, and although everyone hearing them in NASA’s Command Center was jolted with a sense of failure, they simply channeled that fear into nothing short of a miracle.  The sheer fear of losing the astronauts, brought out the best in all the engineers, scientists, and leaders involved.  History has proven to us time and time again, that when mankind is pushed into a corner, it comes out kicking and screaming and always wins.  We have to be able to build and leverage our motivation to overcome fear daily so we don’t get pressed into a life-threatening situation. But God bless if we do; we will be prepared for it and we will have built up our fearless muscles on a daily basis. And let’s talk openly about when failure does strike, because no matter how hard we fight it, we are not immune.  When you think you have failed personally and/or professionally, ask yourself these two questions: – “Did I do everything in my power not to fail?” and “How could I have been better prepared to handle this situation?”  If you practice being fearless, and develop this as a lifelong skill, more times than not you will be satisfied with the answers you give yourself.  Answers like, – “Yes I did everything I could and I was prepared as I could have been under the circumstances.”  And that is a wonderful way to live your life.  Use the fear of failure as your intrinsic motivation and just like the NASA engineers, you will experience nothing short of a miracle.

You have the opportunity each day to live and breathe fearlessly.  You have the ability, the tools, and the mental strength to win each day.  You are doing everything in your power not to fail and have prepared as best you can. As the initial jolt of fear sets in, and your mind moves to uncertainty and your body wants to curl up with doubt – stand tall and recognize these feelings and emotions then channel your strength in a different direction.  Run toward the fear, not from it.  Let me repeat that, run straight toward your fear and face it, do not run away or hide from it.

When you embrace something with the thought of a positive outcome and the will to do what it takes to see that outcome through, then you will truly be living fearlessly.  This sounds inspiring, but I also don’t want to paint any illusion that fear won’t exist.  It will. Yet, you are learning and equipping yourself with the ability to overcome it.  We could chat about global business and life crises such as the Internet Bubble that Burst, the Financial Markets Meltdown or the recent COVID19 Pandemic, as examples that fear is absolutely present, and we can also choose to be the light others look to.  We can be the hope others rely on; we can be the positive amongst the doomsayers.  And quite honestly, doesn’t the world really need us more than ever?  Your family needs your fearlessness because, they will follow your lead.  Your friends will come to rely on our positivity.  Your community will be stronger, for your light burning brighter.  Breathe life into others one breathe-at-a-time, one person-at-a-time, one moment-at-a-time. Take on the responsibility of being fearless as something bigger than you, and a way you can positively impact every person you come into touch with.  Now that is a legacy to leave!

There’s more to come in b LEGENDARY.