June 17th, 2008 by
What is fear?
Fear can have several meanings. In this guide, fear means a disturbing feeling caused by the threat of something bad happening.
Every person experiences fear from time to time. Fear can paralyze you and hinder your success. It can also galvanize you and spur you to succeed.
Your fears may change over time as you and your circumstances change. By following the steps in this guide, you will respond wisely to your fears and eliminate them or use them for good.
What kinds of fear are there?
There are four primary types of fear:
Type 1: Fear of physical pain that you may suffer due to lack of shelter, food, protection, clothing or money.
Type 2: Fear of mental or emotional distress that you may feel.
Type 3: Fear of physical pain that others may suffer.
Type 4: Fear of mental or emotional distress that others may feel.
Your fears may consist of a combination of one or more of these four fear types. The intensity of fear correlates directly with the level of anticipated pain or distress.
What are some examples of fear?
Example 1: You’re walking alone at night on a dimly-lit street in a high-crime neighborhood. You are wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. You feel afraid that someone may attempt to rob you.
This fear is composed mainly of Type 1 listed above, mingled with Type 2 (and perhaps Type 4 if an attack on you might hurt your ability to care for others).
Example 2: You’re watching your teenager drive away in your car to a party with her friends. You worry that she may make moral decisions she will later regret.
You’re primarily feeling fear Type 4, mixed with some of Type 2 and Type 3.
Example 3: You’re working full-time to support your family, but you’re not making enough money to pay the bills. You worry that your spouse and children will not have enough food to eat, and that you will lose the house in which you currently live.
This fear is a composite of all four types listed above.
What about professional blogger fears? What are some examples of fear related to professional blogging?
Boy, I could give you 1,000 examples. I’ve been a full-time pro blogger since 2005, and few things have given me more scares than my blogging work.
Here are three examples of blog-related fear:
Example 1: You’re a small business owner with a website. You’ve heard about this blogging thing and want to set up a business blog to draw more customers to your products and services. But you’re not sure how to get started, and you’re afraid that you might end up wasting your time and money to create a possibly unnecessary company blog.
That’s a nice mix of Type 1 and Type 2 fear. Many small businesses are afraid to start blogs because of this time/money drain possibility, which they allow to worsen their fear of business failure.
Example 2: You’re a freelance Web designer with a website and blog. You’ve been blogging for over two years and have enjoyed a healthy stream of clients through your online efforts. However, over the past six months, your site/blog traffic and customer numbers have mysteriously declined. You’re not sure what the problem is. You’re afraid that if you don’t fix things soon, you may have to return to that day job at the plant.
A lot of Type 2, with some of Type 1 here. Few things are as stressful as forced career changes.
Example 3: You’re a solo entrepreneur with a struggling offline coaching business. You started a blog eight months ago to try to market your skills online, but so far not much has happened. You’re afraid that you might be hurting your personal brand and that everyone is simply ignoring what you have to say. On top of that, your two adolescent children seem to be eating and spending you out of house and home.
Again, we see fear types 1 and 2 here, but we also see some of types 3 and 4 as you fear for the physical and mental/emotional well-being of your kids.
So … how can I overcome my fears and have more blogging success? You promised to tell me.
Right! Now that we’ve established what fear is and how it can affect your personal and professional performance, let me give you a five-step process to overcome it – especially as it relates to professional/business blogging.
Overcoming Fear – Step 1: Identify Your Fears
What are you really afraid of? How much have you thought about that? Have you written down exactly what your various fears are?
Let me give you a personal example. Right now I’m working to build Visionary Blogging into a solid blog consulting and coaching business. As I was preparing this article, I realized that my biggest fear as a blog writer is not what I had previously thought. I used to think that what I was really afraid of was that my writing wouldn’t be good enough, and nothing more.
Now I see that I feel all four types of fear. I’m afraid that constant lack of sleep and too much time at the computer will ruin my health; I worry that I’ll keel over from the stress of starting a small business mostly on my own.
Then there’s the blogging itself. The fear of public embarrassment. The fear of failure. The fear of success. The fear of breaking stuff. The fear of overpromising and underdelivering. The fear of other people mocking your fearfulness. Fear of clowns. Fear of offending. Fear of being boring.
Have you ever experienced fears like these? I bet you have. (Just kidding about the clowns.)
Now, you may feel downright frightened at the thought of talking about and dwelling on your fears. But remember – you can’t fight the enemy if you don’t know anything about him.
In a few minutes, we’ll talk about actually defeating your fears. For now, the point is to understand them.
Consider the following questions:
1. How do my fears make me feel? What do they cause me to do or avoid doing?
2. What prompts me to feel fear? When am I most afraid?
3. How does my blog and/or business suffer because of my inability to overcome my fears?
4. What would I like most to change about those situations which bring my fears to the forefront?
5. What would I like most to change about my response to my fears?
As you answer each question, think about the types of fear you may be experiencing. The four fear types generally run in descending order of urgency – while all are important to address, you should probably prioritize your attention as follows: Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, Type 4.
Studying your fear is like shining a bright light in a dark room. Everything becomes clearer, and things that once seemed menacing often turn out to nothing but shadows. And even the really scary stuff becomes easier to face, because you can discern its shape, its color, its direction. You can finally look fear in the eye and prepare to fight it.
Overcoming Fear – Step 2: Track Your Interaction With Your Fear
The second step of the Visionary Blogging method is to sharpen your focus. Just as a person first sees light and color entering from all directions and then decides to look at one thing for a certain time, you need to first identify and then focus on your fears and your experiences in relation to them.
So now that you’ve identified what makes you afraid and how your fears cause you to behave, you need to form a plan that will keep your attention fixed on facing your fears and your response to them.
Here’s an example of how you could do this for your pro blogging efforts.
1. Get out a blank sheet of notebook paper and turn it sideways.
2. Make eight columns going across the page, with Fear as the title at the top of the left column and the days of the week as the titles of the other columns.
3. In separate rows in the left column, write each of the 3-5 most significant blog-related fears you currently face.
4. Go across the page and fill out when you expect to interact with each fear and what you intend to do when that interaction takes place.
5. Review your written plan each morning and each night, writing down the results along the bottom of the page under each day.
The main idea here is to keep close track of what you actually do about your fear now that you know what it is. In fact, if you’ve had trouble identifying your fear in the first place, this step may help jolt you into seeing it more clearly.
When you fail to plan … you know the rest. And it may take several weeks or months (or longer) of sustained focus to really understand the nature of your fears and how you tend to react to them.
So don’t skip this step, please!
Overcoming Fear – Step 3: Decide What to Do About Your Fear
Honing your discernment is the third step of the Visionary Blogging method, and it’s the next thing to do about your fear in order to overcome it.
If you’ve had any difficulty up to this point in identifying or paying close attention to your fears, this step should really help. While Steps 1 and 2 make you look carefully at the past and present, Step 3 shifts to a view of the present and the future. It makes you ask the question, “Where will this choice lead?”
Here’s a six-point routine to help you discern and decide more clearly what you must do to vanquish your fear.
1. Simplify complex things - Insist on a simple plan of action. Complexity will only make conquering fear harder at this point. So instead of ten resolutions for improvement, go with two or three.
2. Understand the nature of something – Look at the charts or measurements you took in Step 2. What do they tell you about yourself? About what scares you? About what works and what doesn’t?
3. Perceive character, thoughts and intentions – Peer into your mind. Why do you want to overcome your fear? What results do you hope to achieve by meeting fear head-on?
4. Estimate value – For each potential plan, analyze its strong and weak points. Try to quantify it somehow.
5. Recognize difference – Compare your possible plans to each another. How do they differ? What advantages and disadvantages do they present?
6. Determine truth – Be scathingly honest. Now is the time to get real about what makes you afraid and what is the most effective way to respond.
Once you’ve come up with an action plan to face your fears, write it down and review it daily. Exercise your decision-making power of discernment. Make decisions about your fears or they will govern you.
Overcoming Fear – Step 4: Imagine New Solutions
Until now, you’ve spent your attention mainly on answering these three questions:
1. What are my biggest fears?
2. What happens when I encounter my fears?
3. What should I do to face my fears?
Let’s add a fourth:
4. How can I approach my fears more creatively?
Imagination can be incredibly powerful. Without it, life’s vibrant colors fade to gray. That’s why exciting it is the next step in the Visionary Blogging method and the next step you should take to tackle your fears about blogging.
Here are a few examples of imaginative approaches to blogging fears:
Example 1: You’re afraid that your business blog is wasting your time and your customers’ time. Rather than posting a dry “What do you think of our blog?” article today, you decide to face your fears with some creativity. You make a contest announcement at your blog – the first 10 people to tell you how they think you should improve your blog get entered into a drawing for one of your flagship products. You reward the participation by sending each suggester a coupon for a discount on that product, and you give away at least one or two to randomly selected winners.
Example 2: Your biggest blog fear is posting. You spend hours and hours poring over post drafts, never satisfied with their quality. On top of that, you develop a strong fear that people are upset with you for posting so rarely. So you settle on a slightly unorthodox way of overcoming these fears. You resolve to post five times a day to your blog for three weeks straight, without explaining why to anyone. As you force yourself to post even when your drafts aren’t “perfect,” you come to realize that your audience actually prefers your new, more authentic voice.
Example 3: You have a somewhat popular blog that is rapidly losing ground to a competing blog in your niche. You are afraid that people will stop coming to your blog altogether. Instead of merely begging for them to stay away from your competitor, you decide to try to befriend her, or at least network with her. Over the course of three months, you and she develop a healthy cross-promotional relationship and both see an increase in business as a result.
Here’s one from my own experience as a blogger. I started blogging about business blogs back in October 2005. It took many months for me to acknowledge and face my fear of rejection. I slowly came to see that my vivid imagination was the culprit. I would daydream of someone visiting my blog, rising from their chair in anger and accusing me of wasting their time, for instance. So one day I finally decided to let my natural sense of humor emerge. The result? Blog posts I felt more passionate about – and smiled at more. Reader responses that egged me on. A greater sense of satisfaction and less worry about what others thought.
In short, I stopped taking myself so seriously.
So learn to laugh at yourself. After all, isn’t it funny how we let ourselves be afraid of trivial things most of the time?
It’s often this “imagination” step that converts a paralyzing fear into an electrifying one.
So get a little crazy. It just might be what your blog needs to survive.
Overcoming Fear – Step 5: Go the Distance
The final step of the Visionary Blogging method is to strengthen your diligence. And it’s the pinnacle of any quest to overcome a serious, deep-seated fear. If you’re not willing to go an extra hundred miles to make sure you’ve left your fears behind, you’re not ready to call them gone.
The best thing you can do to increase your determination in the face of fear?
Talk to yourself. Talk to others. Don’t stop preaching to yourself about how powerful you really are and how much you deserve to be free of fear’s shackles. Don’t stop talking about your fears and exposing the cracks in their armor. Don’t stop asking other people to help you get up after a fear-filled fall, or to make the final grueling steps to the summit.
The other best thing you can do to finally destroy fear?
Keep walking. No matter how far you’ve come, your journey will be in vain unless you decide to take one more step, one more step, one more step. You must continue until you reach your goal, pausing occasionally to catch your breath but never turning back or giving up.
Remember: There is no growth without overcoming. We need obstacles like fear, blogging and otherwise, to give us opportunities to grow.
Hurricane Katrina, that terrifying monster of a storm that tore through New Orleans and the U.S. Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005, left battle scars not only across the land, but also in the hearts of its battered victims. A year later, I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know a tight-knit community of bloggers who lived in the storm-stricken areas. These men and women, many of them professionals, chose to publish their frustrating journeys to the world, day after day, despite a slew of fears that could nearly suffocate and drown even the strongest of souls. Some of them still do.
Their example of diligence in the face of fear changed me forever – and not just as a blogger.
Overcoming Fear – Conclusion: You Can Do This … So Do It
Fear is an enemy to blogging and business success – unless you face it wisely. Then it becomes an opportunity to improve. The five steps to follow:
1. Increase Awareness: Shine a light on your fears. Get to know them inside and out.
2. Sharpen Focus: Track your confrontations with fear. Watch your performance closely.
3. Hone Discernment: Choose carefully how to combat your fears.
4. Excite Imagination: Try creative approaches to solving fear.
5. Strengthen Diligence: Never give up. Resolve to overcome fear no matter what.
If you need help overcoming your blog-related fears, contact me. You can always ask me for free blogging help, or learn about my professional services. I’m not a scary guy, so your situation can only improve.
What are some things that you’ve done to overcome fears related to blogging? What are your most serious blogging fears? What will you do differently after studying this article?