DO IT! OR DITCH IT – Beat the Fear Factor

Do you have a goal that you want to achieve? Can you see yourself achieving it – in one month, in three months, in six months, one year? If not, what could the possible reasons be? Are they physical things or are they behaviours? Would your goal be ‘nice to have’? Or are you really hungry for it? What action could you take right now to begin to bring about the result you truly want?

 There are many reasons that people don’t keep to their plans or realise their dreams; the first is a lack of belief that they can truly succeed. Another is that the goal may be someone else’s dream rather than our own; but the third, most common reason, is The Fear Factor.

Many people quit before they have really started because they are not ready to face their fears and push themselves outside their ‘comfort zone’.

DO IT! - How hungry are you?

Why do some people show more courage than others? Why do some have the will and the grit to succeed while others fall at the first hurdle? Courage depends on having a clear vision of what you are aiming for and the motivation to achieve your goal. The difference between those who endure fear and act anyway, and those who don’t, lies in the intensity of the desire and the strength of their personal resilience.

Hunger is a great motivator. In the wild it strengthens instinct and gives animals to will to thrive. In humans, the hunger to win and to achieve can help us to overcome anxiety and fear; it increases our focus; and propels us to move more quickly and effectively with laser-like efficiency towards achieving our goals.

Olympic athlete, Ben Hunt-Davis, won a Gold medal as part of the men’s eight rowing team in the Sydney games in 2000. The team had mantra, which Ben now uses in his coaching and it is the title of his book. When deciding on a course of action, they would ask themselves, “Will it make the boat go faster?” In other words, will the decision I am taking now, take me closer to my goal? It forces pacey, no nonsense decision-making. It’s not always an easy approach; for example, Ben’s team chose not to go to the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics because they knew that having a late night would definitely not make the boat go faster.

The biggest lesson in this approach is the warning not to get into conversation with yourself. For example, if you have joined a gym, don’t waste time deliberating over whether or not you want to go: just Do It!

Each of us has the ability to look back and look ahead at the same time – we can learn from the past, while also creating a vision of the future that motivates us.

My first tip is to begin today to first create a picture in your mind of a future that you really do want – so you strengthen your motivation to move towards it; as every coach knows, the most powerful resolution of all may simply be to keep telling yourself, “I will achieve my goals.”


  • Fear of feeling uncomfortable. One of the enemies of courage is being too comfortable. The safer you need to feel, the fewer calculated risks you are likely to take. Very few of the millionaires I know had a privileged upbringing; most had to develop personal resilience from an early age. They built their businesses and learned their trade through trial and error, training and hard graft. They are comfortable feeling uncomfortable – and have become used to coping with feelings of unease or fear.
  • Fear of criticism and fear of failure. If no one ever criticises you, there are two likely reasons: either you are perfect (perhaps unlikely), or else you never take a risk, which means you may be falling short of your true potential. We never know what we are capable of until we try.

Combating fear means learning to develop a tough hide. If you are more focused upon what other people think than on achieving your goal, you may be knocked off course. Even Mother Theresa couldn't please everyone 100 per cent of the time. If she couldn't who can?


  • Resilience. The strongest weapon of courage is resilience, because to overcome your fear you have to know you will be able to bounce back from any outcome – even when you are at your lowest ebb.  Courageous people try, and try again. The more they try, the more resilient they become. Resilience builds confidence through taking action. Over time, you will discover that no matter what happens, you’ll be okay; because you know you can deal with it.

Some of the greatest business icons, including Walt Disney, Henry Ford and even Peter Jones, experienced bankruptcy before becoming successful – but that never stopped them having new ideas or starting up another business. Many Olympic medalists too, know all too well what it is like to lose it all and win again. Those who achieve the greatest success often have to overcome immense hurdles.

  • A positive attitude.

Courage has its roots in the attitude we choose day to day.

How we respond to small difficulties affects how we react to greater adversity. Developing a ‘victor’ mentality means that when things go wrong, you are more likely to look your fears in the face, and react with, 'All will be well' rather than, 'I’m scared’ or ‘Poor me'.

  • Self-discipline. Adopting a disciplined approach to life enables your auto-pilot to take over on those occasions when the going gets tough. Those who develop self-discipline put the needs of the goal ahead of immediate gratification. That means they make constant progress – and it also means they don’t stop to question whether they want to do something. If it needs doing they will just get on with it.
  • Assessing risk. Courage helps you to take the leap, but you also need to assess the risks associated with what you are doing –and prepare for the consequences. Be realistic – but don’t let over- preparation stop you from taking a chance.
  • Fear. It is natural to feel uneasy in the face of experiencing something unknown – but adrenaline can be a valuable weapon. It keeps us alert, encourages us to raise our game, and puts us in a frame of mind for fight and survival.

If you desire the outcome enough, you will find the courage to look fear in the face in order to achieve success.

“The time to Shine is when it is Darkest.” Bear Grylls

Bev James is CEO of The Academy Group including The Coaching Academy and the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy. She is bestselling author of DO IT! OR DITCH IT® (Virgin Books) which is now also available as a free business app. Bev is also Director of Mentoring for Start Up Loans, a government initiative for young entrepreneurs. 

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