At the end of the movie Forrest Gump, Jenny is sick in bed, dying, and she asks, “Hey, Forrest, were you scared in Vietnam?” Without stopping to think, Forrest says, “Yes” … But then with a moment’s reflection, he adds, “Well, I, I don’t know”
It’s interesting that his initial, candid reaction was “Yes.”
But then with some thought, he adds, “I don’t know?”
I think most of us are initially fearful of many things that happen in our lives.
- A new job.
- A new relationship.
- A new assignment at work.
- A new child.
- Paying next month’s mortgage.
- Making a phone call that could change your life.
- Writing the new proposal or blog.
The reality is that most new things are scary.
So why do some people charge fearlessly into new things?
Why do others remain paralyzed by fear … and fail to act?
Take a moment to think (and potentially react) like Forrest did.
Is it possible your instant reaction of, “YES, I’m scared!” could turn into “I don?’t know?” … why should I be scared?
Here Are 6 Gump Ways to Overcome Your Fears:
1. Know What You Believe
We all believe certain things. The challenge is to avoid getting confused. We have thousands of options and possibilities every day. We continuously receive input from others. There is frequently a perceived expectation that we must conform to the wishes of others. It’s easy to lose sight of our beliefs.
Forrest knew exactly who he was and what he believed. For example, when he was in the Army, he was a soldier serving his country and looking out for the safety of his fellow soldiers. So, when scary things happened like a battle of war, he did what he had to do. He was crystal clear on his mission. He knew what he believed.
By writing things down, you will become crystal clear in your beliefs. You’ll be less easily swayed and distracted by the information overload that threatens even the most organized and self-disciplined.
Fear disappears when you know what you believe.
2. Know What Has to Be Done
I’m referring to your To-Do lists for today and for this week. Things need to be done … write them down.
In Forrest’s case, he was specifically doing an assigned task on any given day in Vietnam. You might recall he said, “The good thing about Vietnam is there was always someplace to go.” Every day had a specific purpose.
Once more, the simple act of writing things down works wonders. I have a Scrivener file that’s labeled WeekToDo. It’s my short-term list of things that need to be done. Everyday starts with half a dozen things listed. It’s a reminder of the things I will automatically do daily. It then gets populated with ten, twenty, and thirty other things that need doing.
By focusing on what has to be done, you’ll probably forget what was originally scaring you.
3. Maintain Your Support System
Family first. Forrest had his support system of family and friends. Mama, Jenny, Bubba, Lt. Dan. These people were his support system. These people were his family. These people were his foundation.
The old story about the guy on his deathbed applies perfectly. He never says, I wish I spent more time on my business and had ignored my family just a little bit more.
Without a good support system, you’ll most likely churn out lots of things, but you’ll burn out long before you get around to enjoying them.
Allow your support system to be your foundation of strength in overcoming your fears.
4. Know That Others Don’t Really Care All That Much
Nobody cares about your business (life, to-do list, values, etc.) as much as you do. All the other people are busy worrying about their life, their to-do list, and their business.
So, the only person you end up hurting when you fail to act is yourself.
When you imagine yourself being scared, remember that the people you’re scared of … probably are unaware that you’re scared, and likely don’t care that you’re scared.
5. Focus On Providing Value for Others
If you’re interrupting someone with a message that says ‘hire me’ but doesn’t offer real value, then you should be fearful. You should be fearful because that message isn’t a message that anyone wants to get interrupted to hear.
People don’t need to help you. You need to help other people.
On the other hand, if you provide real value (i.e., a good or a service), then communicating that to someone is valuable to them … and certainly not anything to be ashamed of or feared.
Of course, now you’ll need to figure out a way to communicate that message without being a pain in the buttocks. But we’ll save that for another day.
For now, start by turning what scares you into solutions for the other guy.
When you offer real value, you don’t have to apologize for offering your help. It’s your job. And doing your job is nothing to fear.
6. Take 100% Personal Responsibility
When you take 100% personal responsibility for knowing your beliefs, knowing what needs to be done, building and maintaining your support system, understanding that others don’t care as much as you do about you, and finally focusing on providing value to others … the fears just simply disappear.
If you try to split responsibility 50/50 you’ll live in constant fear monitoring the other guy, keeping score, and making sure they are doing their fair share. But when you take 100% responsibility, you eliminate the possibility that the other guy will let you down. You give up the right to blame. Blame can only be placed on the person who’s staring back at you in the mirror.
Is the person in the mirror really that scary?
Why are you scared?
What do you fear?
Are you willing to try the Gump ways to overcome your fears?
Next Blog Title: It’s Not Bragging If It’s True
Next Blog Date: August 25, 2011