Most people do one of two things with fear. Some freeze. Others run. Few push through and find their dreams.
There are two types of fear. The first type should stop you in your tracks. Adrenaline surges as you round the corner on a trail to hear the roar of an angry mother bear. This type of fear will save your life.
The second type of fear is the nameless dread. It’s the fear that haunts you in the middle of the night. Rather than roar, this fear whispers, “You better not go there.” It brings a thousand “what ifs” to the conversation. What would normally be thoughtful analysis becomes laced with dark emotions. This type of fear will destroy your dreams.
Jason Van Camp echos this sentiment in his book, Deliberate Discomfort: “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
All too often, the nameless fears stop us in our tracks. What if we used these fears as a sign that we need to push forward?
The reality is that most of the good things in life are found on the other side of fear.
In his book, Surf the Woods, adventurer and entrepreneur, Hold Condren recommends that we accelerate towards fear. He recommends, “Whenever you are confused about where you should go next in pursuit of your dreams, prioritize paradoxically and take your direction from fear.” He advises that we see fear as guideposts for the life of faith God has for us.
Holt created the Dreamer’s Creed:
I’ll go where I’m scared to go,
I’ll face what I’m scared to face,
I’ll say what I’m scared to say.
To live the dreams God has for me.
What are you afraid of? What are the nameless, faceless fears that hold you back? Could you be open to the possibility that fear is something we should run toward?
How To Run Toward Fear
How can we run toward fear? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Have Faith
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Look back over history at the people who accomplished big things and they all have one thing in common. They had faith that the things they hoped for, while still yet unseen, would come to pass. They combined their vision of a better future with belief. How are you cultivating faith?
2. Prepare What You Can Control
The Boy Scout motto applies here: “Be prepared.” Too often we try before we train. As a result, we give up too soon and validate the voice of fear. Instead, what could it look like to train? As I write this article, I’m 75 days away from a challenging trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. From my research, I have learned that this is no cakewalk. Not every person makes it to the end of this trek. It has put inside me a healthy fear. This fear motivates me to train. I’m digging deep with the level of exercise that my coaches have told me will ensure I am prepared.
3. Get a Coach
Look to those who have pressed past fear to achieve what you want to achieve. There is a tendency to think that these high achievers didn’t have fear. Once you get to know them, you will usually discover they faced fear as great or greater than the fear you face. These coaches let you know it can be possible. They also can guide you in how to prepare. Some of my coaches are live people with who I can talk with. Many of my coaches are authors who have recorded their stories and lessons. Both are helpful.
4. Relax Your Grip on What You Can’t Control
The band 38 Special gave some great advice: “Hold on loosely.” This wisdom echo’s the ancient King David’s sage advice in Psalm 46:10: “Cease striving and know that I am God.” My friend Pablo Giacopelli, author of the aptly titled book, Holding on Loosely, opened my eyes to the rich meaning of the Hebrew words of that Psalm that can be translated as “Hold on loosely.” Pablo saw this principle in action and he played and coached world-class tennis players. Hold the racquet and the score of the game too tight and you can’t play. The key to winning is to hold on loosely, relaxing as you play in the moment.
5. Experience the Power of Love
What is the opposite of fear? The apostle John believes that “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) I believe that love is the most powerful motivator on earth. To activate love against fear, connect with people and purpose. Do you love the people you are serving? Do you love your cause? Are you tackling this project alone or could you work together in a relationship with people you love? Do you have a community of like-hearted people surrounding you? How can you put yourself in a place to receive love? Where is fear holding you back? What if you could see fear as a green light rather than a red light? What if you could see fear as an invitation rather than a roadblock? Instead of being paralyzed, what could it look like if you had faith, leveraged that faith to get prepared, got a coach, and experienced the power of love? Imagine what could be possible.