I’m often asked for advice on certain career or professional decisions that people have to make. I’m straddled with giving my opinion and wanting people to make their own choices. I’ve learned to ask questions to help people make the right choice and squash their fears.
Courage Over Fear
Fear is an emotion, just like all of your other emotions. It has no special meaning other than the meaning you choose to give it. It has no special power other than the power you choose to give it. As a matter of fact, it’s not special at all. It’s just an emotion. You can choose to focus on that emotion, or another. You can listen to fear, you can stay paralyzed by it and do nothing at all.
Or, you can choose to focus on courage, also an emotion. If you do not do what your fear is telling you to do, you allow your courage to propel you forward.
Most people think that to have courage means the absence of fear. But even the most courageous are fearful. I don’t think you can have one without the other. What need is there for courage if not to conquer our own fears. Once we understand that fear and courage are emotions that co-exist and we simply choose to focus on one over the other, we can begin to shorten the amount of time it takes to make good choices and think like a champion. Learning to nurture this over your adult career is the path to advancement, satisfaction, and a life of abundance.
A Winning Hand
When you choose courage over fear, you’ll speak up, sign up, buy, sell, branch, take the leap, write the letter, have the talk, ask her out, etc. Try the 10/10/10 analysis from Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive. Ask yourself, how would you feel about that decision 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How would you feel 10 years from now?
This quick analysis can help you keep your emotions in check. In the moment, emotions can be so white hot that they take over the truth about how our choices can define our future. By thinking about how we want to feel 10 months or 10 years from now we are putting fear in the back seat and grabbing the steering wheel ourselves.
Using 10/10/10, you may find that your decision to face your fear leaves you feeling anxious 10 minutes from now, but relieved or empowered 10 months from now.
It can lead us to that ah-ha moment. This is choosing courage over fear. The possibilities are endless. Your energy intensifies.
This is not to say that short-term emotion is the enemy. It serves a purpose. However, with a 10/10/10 analysis you are giving yourself the opportunity to ensure that your short-term emotion is not the only card in your hand.
Clearing Our Lenses
Many times when we are stuck on a decision we are trying to make for ourselves, it is caused by the emotions that are fogging up our lenses. We are stuck on how that decision is making us feel right now when what we may need to do is remove our own emotions from the decision. Often the first question I’ll ask myself when making a tough decision is am I choosing from fear or courage? When giving advice to one of my students I’ll often ask myself, what advice would I give my son or daughter in this situation? Removing our own emotions from the decision-making process can quickly bring about clarity.
If you don’t have children, ask what advice would I give my brother, sister, favorite cousin, best friend, spouse, etc.? If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Have you ever noticed how clearly and freely we give advice to friends and family? You may be amazed at how quickly the choice becomes clear.
You have to expand in order to reach new heights. But that capacity needs to be poured directly into your decisions, not spread thin by old habits. Preparation and passion are keys to success, but making good choices transforms a broader focus into laser focus. Make the desire to take your capacity the next level intrinsic. It may be helpful to journal your decision making process so you can learn how to think more clearly in the moment. Be creative and believe in yourself regardless.
Don’t let some past mistake keep you focused on the emotion of fear. Since the choice is yours anyway, why not break fear and choose courage?
Read about making great choices at work in John's book No Shorts, Flip-flops, or Sunglasses: How to Make the Most of Your First Real Job. A portion of the proceeds go to Children's Dyslexia Centers.
by John Wasserman
Proceeds benefit Children's Dyslexia Centers