How to deal with your fears (and keep stress under control)?

How to deal with your fears (and keep stress under control)?

Two conversations rule our lives today: the one about success and the one about failure. There’s hundreds if not thousands of articles written on how to achieve success and how to avoid failure. Well, in my experience, the only real difference between people who succeed and those who fail is in their ability to control fear.

We all have fears, it’s a fact of life. It’s about survival instinct and it is completely normal. Generally speaking, however, people who succeed in business are those who are aware of their fears, who accept their fears as something normal and thus decide to control their fear rather than let fear control their lives.

To control fear first you need to understand it. You need to understand why you fear and what it is you are really afraid of?

Once you’ve got the answer to these questions, it is a matter of choice whether you let your fears rule your life or you decide to put them aside and focus on the task at hand.

Here’s some answers for you. We fear because:

We take life too seriously

Many of us feel stress mainly because we take life too seriously and hence what we are doing on a daily basis the same way. What we never ask ourselves however is why. Why are we treating what we are dealing with as though our life depends on it.

And the more important question – does it really?

Years ago, at one of my first jobs my boss, who I admired for his ability to stay calm in the hardest of situations,  saw me stressing out about an upcoming event at work that I was in charge of. He asked me to stop for a moment and ask myself the following question “Will this event matter to you in 5 years time? Will it have any real impact on your life?”

I quickly realised what the obvious answer to this question was – No. No, it won’t. Then he went on to ask me “Then why are you acting as if it will, letting it take over your life and ruin your day?”

Good question huh!

Will this matter to you in 5 years?  is a fundamental question.  Ever since this incident I’ve used it to keep my fears in check and not let them ruin any of my days.

Whenever I feel my stress levels are rising I just ask myself will this matter in 5 year time. And in 99.9% of the cases the answer is – No, it won’t.

Realising a simple fact as this, is liberating. It shifts your focus from the fear of what may happen to just making sure you do your best whatever the situation. Because at the end of the day, all you can really do in any situation is give 100%, the rest is out of your control. Hopefully everything will be ok, but things do go wrong sometimes and that’s ok too as long as you realise it’s not the end of the world.

So every time you feel anxiety just ask yourself:  Will this matter in 5 years time?

We don’t want to fail

Most of the time our fears, whatever they may be disguised as, come down to one fear really – the fear of failing. Because we define failure as something negative, we want to avoid it at any cost. So we are constantly preoccupied with the troublesome possibility of failing. I admit that the disappointment that comes as a  direct results from failure is quite unpleasant but failure in itself is not always a bad thing.

If you think about it, failure is nothing but achieving an outcome that is different from the planned or intended one. And disappointment is the most natural response in this situation. In fact, most of the time it is disappointment that we fear rather than the outcome itself.

But if you just  ask yourself this simple question:  So what if I fail?, you will realise that while it may be a bit unpleasant, it won’t be the end of the world.

And yet we let our fears stop us from going after what we want……

I work with this incredibly talented young entrepreneur who is brilliant in his field but really insecure when it comes to proactively going after potential clients. He is afraid to pick up the phone and ask for business and really nervous when he has to talk to people about the services he provides. Naturally, this is a problem as he doesn’t have a steady inflow of clients.

When we sat down to talk about it and we got to the bottom of his insecurity, it became clear that what stopped him was his own fear of people not liking his ideas. He was afraid that rejection would make him feel as if he’s not good enough, as if he’s failed.

I told him that of course some people won’t think they need his services and of course many people will reject him but so what? Surely there will be also many people who will be happy he reached out to them and helped them. Rejection is just part of the process and the sooner he accepted this part, the easier it would be. This is a simple fact and while this is quite obvious somehow it hadn’t occurred to him that of course there will be rejection.

Once he made his peace with that and stopped treating rejection as failure or a sign of incapability he was much calmer and eventually got really good at pursuing clients.

So whenever you feel stressed about something, don’t forget to ask yourself So what if I fail?


You will get up, you dust yourself off and you move on. And you will be one step closer to succeeding the next time.  Failure is just a part of life. The part without which success wouldn’t exist either.

We imagine the worst case scenario

Our fears are also closely related to what we imagine would happen if we fail. Think about it and you’ll realise that your underlying belief is that failing in this or that will unleash a series of events that will have a long term adverse effect on your whole life.

If you fail this project, you will lose a client and if that happens and you lose another one down the road, you won’t be able to pay the salaries, and you will have to let some of your staff go and eventually your business will go downhill. Suddenly, in your mind, losing one client equates to losing your business and that’s just never really the case.

Similar scenarios play out in our heads daily but according to research our worst fears never actually materialise. It is all in our minds. Thus, the only realistic danger is that of letting our fears from possible negative outcomes take over our life.

So whenever you feel afraid, just ask yourself:

What’s the worst that can happen? But also: Is it truly realistic?

If you lose this one account, you  won’t be able to pay your bills? If you can’t pay your bills your business will go under? If your business goes under you won’t be able to rebuild it? You won’t be able to figure something else out? There won’t be anybody to lend you a hand? You will end up homeless?

There’s a lot of ifs before you hit whatever you define as rock bottom. But even if you do, that’s not necessarily bad in the long run. Let me remind you that many self made millionaires and celebrities were penniless and even homeless before they achieved massive success.

I believe it is indeed due to the fact they hit rock bottom that they succeeded. Because at rock bottom you have nothing to lose, so you are free of the fears that were holding you back before.

Maybe the rock bottom, that you are so afraid of, is nothing but a blessing in disguise.

So take life as it comes and don’t worry too much. As they say:

Never take life too seriously. Nobody comes out if it alive anyway.

Don’t over-think it, take your chances, do your best, keep getting up after you fall and keep trying until you get what you want. Don’t let your fears live your life for you.


Business Coaching – Business Plus Magazine

Business Coaching – Business Plus Magazine

Life is like a game of Snakes & Ladders

You might remember when you were a child, a board game called Snakes & Ladders.

The concept of the game is that it has 100 squares. Each player picks a token to represent where they are on the board. Then as each person takes their turn to roll the dice, they move forward on the squares from 1 to 100, by the number of squares that matches the number they got on the dice.

Therefore if a player rolls the dice and gets 3, then that player moves forward three squares. The winner of the game is the first player to reach the square 100.

However, on the board game there are snakes, and if you land on a square that has the head of a snake, you have to slide down that snake on the board to where their tail ends. Therefore you went backwards in the game.

But there are also ladders on the board. And when you land on a square that has the bottom of a ladder, you are able to move up the ladder to a higher number, thereby getting you closer to the square 100 and being the winner! It’s a great game and can be really exciting when it’s played with multiple players at the same time.

I use the analogy of Snakes & Ladders Life to represent how we can go through life, much like the board game itself. We are born, which can be represented by starting at square 1. We are given a body and a persona to live in, which is the token we use on the board game. We move forward year by year, with the aim of getting to a ripe old age of 100, or until we reach the success we desire.

Meeting The Snakes

However during our life, we encounter the snakes. These show up in the form of fears, addictions, depression; or the events that knock us back like illness, death of a loved one, breakdown of a marriage, losing a job, losing our home or financial loss.

Then there are the ladders that get us advancing in life such as the job promotions, the business takes off, we meet a new partner, we get a new client, we get a clear diagnosis from an illness, or we even win the lotto or we get a lucky break! Some are big and some are small. Life is full of snakes and ladders. And we need to see them as that.

As on the board game, in life not only do we move forward and backwards, but there are times we will feel like we’re going around in circles the whole time. We find ourselves in a pattern of taking three steps forward, and then two steps back. It’s like a never-ending ferris wheel.

Then there are times that as we get closer to the success that we desire, it appears like more and more snakes appear. Everywhere we turn there’s a snake. We’re on the brink of success, we can nearly smell it, but then we get knocked back consistently. Some people give up in life and throw the ‘board game’ off the table. Others keep going back and back to the brink of success in the hope that they will eventually get past all the ‘snakes’.

But also on the Snakes & Ladders life board game, there are the other players. There are the people that hold us back or are regularly negative. They bring us down.

The Energy Vampires

These are the people I refer to as the ‘energy vampires’. They suck every ounce of energy out of you. They’re not nice to be around. Sometimes we don’t recognise them as they can come across as being so nice at the beginning. But then over time they begin to hold us back by pouring cold water over our dreams.

They can be the ones that we respect and because they tell us we shouldn’t do something, we take on board what they say because we respect them, and therefore we don’t do those things which in our heart we would love to do, like follow a particular passion, career or business idea.

Yet, also on the Snakes & Ladders life board game are the helpers. These are the ones that support us and want to see the best for us and will support us whenever we ask. They may be there for a long time with us, while other helpers may only be there for a short period of time.

Sometimes we might not recognise them as helpers as at times they might push our buttons or triggers. We might not like them because they’re challenging to us. But in fact they’re there to stretch us and help us grow.

The one thing with the Snakes & Ladders Life is that we don’t get to see the next square. We don’t get to see where the snakes are, or where the ladders are. We move from one year to the next year. From one square to the next square. Into the unknown future.

But now that we can understand the concept of the Snakes & Ladders Life, let’s look at the effect that it has on our state of ‘being’ or how we feel mentally and physically. You see each time we hit a ladder, it means we move up to a higher state of being as well.

Equally, each time we hit a snake, we move down to a lower state of being. So take, for example, an event that occurs in life, like our home is being threatened with repossession by the bank. This can cause us to drop to a lower state of being. This might happen over a long time, or it can happen very quickly.

Whereas before we were at a state of ‘belief’, where we are ambitious and driven, we can very quickly drop to a lower state like ‘despair’ where we lose all purpose and meaning in our life. This can cause some of us to lower further where we will look for a way out of this Snakes & Ladders Life permanently.

It’s A Game. It’s Fun!

You see, we move up and down these states all the time throughout our life. Some of us will be in the same state for years, and others can move up and down states throughout the course of the day.

In the morning a business owner might get confirmation from a new client that they have been awarded a large contract, and all of a sudden they have moved up to a high state of belief. Then in the afternoon that same business owner receives notice that they’ve just lost a major client. All of a sudden the good thing that happened in the morning is overshadowed by this event and they drop to a state of despair.

We play this Snakes & Ladders Life game all the time. If you imagine a heart rate monitor in a hospital where you see the line going across the screen, and it goes up and down, and beeps occasionally. Picture the different levels on the left vertical of the screen as being the different states that we pass through, while at the bottom horizontal of the screen is time. Time can be measured in hours, days, weeks, months, years. As you go though life, that line which is individual to you, moves up and down as you go through the different states.

What we also learn is that we are all connected. So if you can imagine that your Snakes & Ladders Life board has other boards all around it. Each side of your board is adjacent to other people’s boards.

There are times that you will move onto other boards, and other people will move onto your board. There are many players. Then when we zoom out more, we see the multitude of boards spread out across the world, while all of them are connected — each person having their own Snakes & Ladders Life, but also interacting with others. Imagine the wonderment of it all.

But as we go through life, some of us will realise that it’s supposed to be fun. Like the board game, it’s a game. A fun game. Instead of chasing to get to reach the heights of our life and exiting at 100, we should be having fun along the way.

And the more fun we have, then the more we obtain. That’s the secret to succeeding at this Snakes & Ladders Life. How are you playing the game right now?

Business Coaching – Better Business Magazine

Business Coaching – Better Business Magazine

Business Advice for Better Business

Be willing to be different by not doing things the same as all
your competitors do business. Don’t let your business consume
every hour of your day. Your family is more important. And so
is your health. Do everything with integrity, and if it seems too
good to be true, it really is. But most important of all; make a
difference to the people that buy your product or service. Make
their life better because of your business.

Read the full publication here.



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