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Fear is the biggest obstacle standing between us and our objectives – earning promotions, sales or customers.
18 June 2015

Do Not Feed The Bears (Fear Is Lying To You)

As a woman who has had a successful career in sales and built a business around helping people sell their product, service or themselves, I understand just how greatly people fear “selling” and “promoting” themselves. The biological and psychological barriers, the stigma, the cultural and gender bias that comes along with self promotion is paralyzing for most people and detrimental both financially and professionally—especially for women.

The biggest factor here is, of course FEAR. Fear stops us from doing a lot of things that we “wish” or “hope” we can eventually, maybe, kind of sort of accomplish.

I write and speak a lot about fear—whether it’s understanding how fear keeps our business and lives small or articulating how to lesson fear and risk to make it easier for customers to “buy” our offerings. Every week I talk to business owners, sales executives and even this week, a Development Director—about the response to change stemming from fear when her team was tasked with asking for larger donations. “It can’t happen. It will never work. People will stop giving . . .” Those responses are about failure and rejection more than they are rooted in actual knowledge because FEAR is keeping them from finding out how people really feel.

Fear is the conclusion our primitive brain comes to when it identifies “risk”—something foreign, unknown, outside the comfort of our status quo. Because no matter how civilized, evolved or rational we think we are, we still function and rely heavily on the Cave Man, instinctual brain called our Limbic System.

When we are confronted with a new choice that involves risk {rejection, failure, loss}—our sympathetic nervous system kicks in with an alert from the Cave Man brain that warns us, “Caution, do NOT leave the safety of the cave, there is a flesh eating Cave Bear waiting outside to tear us from limb to limb.”

Fear is the biggest obstacle standing between us and our objectives – earning promotions, sales or customers.

Fear, however, is most always a Liar. There is no Cave Bear. You will not die if you ask for the sale. You probably won’t fall down when you stand up to speak and you haven’t built a strong enough donor or customer relationship if they don’t speak to you because you asked for an increase.

The consequences that your sympathetic nervous system revs up to deal with {sweating, nervous stomach, shortness of breath . . . thoughts of death} are because our primitive brain cannot distinguish between true FEAR and Discomfort of Choice.

We get all ramped up to throw up or die but really the consequences or outcomes really aren’t as bad as what we imagine. What’s the worst thing that could happen when you face an uncomfortable choice: You’re told no? You’re not liked? You make a mistake and are not viewed as perfect?

See, that’s not so bad, after all, is it?

Leaders—those we view as strong, brave, steadfast and integrity driven—they know what to do when they are faced with that Discomfort of Choice and their fear alarms start going off. They do the right thing. Not the easy thing, not the comfortable thing, they do the Right Thing. And they do it consistently because just like athletes, they’ve trained themselves to accept the uncomfortable feelings fear produces and built “muscle memory” around the practice of doing what is right.

When I pitch to a new level of bigger client or present to an even bigger international audience than I ever have before in my career, my FEAR triggers start hearing a hungry Cave Bear outside my door too. They’re growling with insecure thoughts of “am I good enough” or “is this message sophisticated enough”, or “what am I doing here?”

But my own self advice comes from our great Parks system: “Do NOT feed the Bears“. Because if you do, they’ll just keep coming back. And they’re not afraid of you. If you don’t feed the Cave Bear, it doesn’t exist. And it can’t eat you if you leave the safety of the status quo.

How do you cope with Fear and Insecurity—whether it’s selling your self or your business?

Tell us how or share your stories in the comments below.

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!
—sks

2 Responses

  1. yep…i needed this today. this is some strong ammunition for the entrepreneurial roller coaster of feeling confident and pumped one moment and practically paralyzed the next. thank you again Shawn!

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