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Conquering Fear Can Be Liberating.

My client told me that his father had one characteristic that had helped him the most: He LOVED to get scared. The exact phrase he used was, "My father was an adrenaline junkie." I found this concept mesmerizing, and having spent some time hearing about his father's achievements, I decided to discover if I, too, could learn to enjoy being scared.

To my great surprise, after several days of testing this concept, I discovered three fascinating phenomena:

* I found you can learn to enjoy being scared. Indeed, as one writer once put it: "Fear can be headier than whiskey, once a person has acquired a taste for it."

* The more comfortable you get with fear, the less power it has over you.

* The more I practiced this, the more self-confident and poised I became, and it wasn't a slow process: I noticed a fairly large increase in several days.

Consider the benefits for yourself if you genuinely enjoyed being scared. How much easier -- and effective -- might your next major presentation to the board or the investment community be? Think back to the last situation that may have caused a significant level of anxiety for you. Let's say that it was an important presentation you and your financial management team did for an influential group of analysts. It wasn't the presentation itself that scared you. It was your own internal emotional reaction to the situation that made you uncomfortable and affected your performance.

Do you know executives that love presenting in these kinds of situations? Of course you do. It's never the situation itself that affects us; it's always our internal reactions that we unconsciously try to avoid.

What do you think President Roosevelt was getting at when he said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself?" There's nothing wrong with feeling fear, but there's everything wrong with letting it control your actions. That's where the concept of the "fear zone" comes into play.

Here's a challenge for you: Over the next 24 hours, every time you start to feel fear in any situation, neither avoid the emotion nor run from it. Allow yourself simply to feel it, and as crazy as this may sound, focus on enjoying it. You'll be surprised by what happens. You'll find the more you do this, the better you get at it, and the more you enjoy it, the more it will become learned behavior.

The first few times you practice this, you may feel a bit like you're on a roller coaster. Fear typically makes most people feel more than a little out of control, usually a fairly uncomfortable emotion. But if you can make up your mind not to run from it, you'll have made an enormous step: If you're aware of fear, and it doesn't bother you, it can't CONTROL you -- and the easier it will become to project confidence and authority.

Here's my second challenge. Just for today, purposely take on business-related actions you normally would have avoided because of the "fear zone." These don't have to be giant actions. One thing that I can guarantee will happen is that your self-image will start to rise, and you'll have started the process of making yourself into a stronger person. You'll be among a very small percentage of the population that has the special quality of consistently facing their fears and doing the tough things it takes to build their dreams.

The final and most important lesson here is that if you want to grow into a stronger person, it's critical that you learn to face your fears on a regular basis. Here's one final quote to think about: "Leaders always march to the sounds of cannons.

Daniel Teitelbaum is a consultant and seminar leader and the author of "The Ultimate Guide to Mental Toughness."
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Author:Teitelbaum, Daniel
Publication:Financial Executive
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 1, 2000
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