Monday, August 9, 2010

Conquering Your Fears?

The other day I was asked,” How do you know the difference between doing something to conquer a fear, or doing something that may be detrimental to you as a person?” I was given the examples of asking for a raise or speaking out in a meeting about something you disagree with but your superiors feel strongly about. When I talk about conquering a fear, I am talking about something that you feel you lack strength in, such as speaking in public, being social, etc. . I myself have not practiced and therefore do not like, reading or speaking in front of crowds. Leading up to the moment, adrenaline starts pumping through my body and I get extremely nervous about what I am about to do. The only way I will ever overcome this is by “conquering my fear” and pushing through the situation enough times. By doing it over and over without a negative outcome, I will become less nervous and eventually overcome the fear. To compare this to my friend’s example, if you were a person that finds it difficult to speak up in meetings, I would begin overcoming that fear by speaking out about things that will create a positive result and therefore positive reinforcement. The effects of speaking out the first time to disagree with the rest of the room, would most likely feed your fear, making it less likely for you to speak up the next time. It’s important to put ourselves in a position to succeed when we attempt to conquer our fears. The last thing that we want to do is feed the fears. In the case of asking for a raise, again it is important to differentiate between a general fear and a risk vs reward decision. A general fear would be someone who typically does not like to ask for things for themselves. In this case that person may need to “conquer their fear” to find the courage to go in and ask for the raise. On the other hand most people just fear the consequences of asking for the raise, more than the act of asking. In these cases this has nothing to do with the “conquering your fears” idea. We all have our own individual fears that we need to work on and I think it is a very valid point that we must not confuse what is a general fear, with the fear of consequences from a particular decision. Most importantly, its important to always put ourselves in a position to succeed. I will practice reading in front of small crowds before you see me singing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium.