“Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.”

Get back on a bicycle, horse, or a plane.

When I was in graduate school, I read a book (actually, I read more than one book) and one chapter dealt with public speaking. The author, whose name I’ve long forgotten, said, “Man’s greatest fear is standing in front of people and speaking. Given that choice or walking through a wall of fire, man would choose the wall of fire.” I had been out of the burn unit for almost five years; my initial emotional response was similar to, ‘Bull crap.’ I’ve done both; public speaking is a cake-walk. I know fear!

There are four basic types of Fear: Fear of Success; Fear of Failure; Fear of Confrontation; Fear of the Unknown.

Life’s all about choices. When you choose and commit to identifying, acknowledging and eliminating your fear(s), you’ll find the needed motivation and courage to continue to live with enthusiasm and appreciation. Overcoming your fear(s) is a lot like losing weight or getting into shape. “As people begin to feel stronger and healthier, they develop (more) confidence and this pushes them to pursue their goals,” says Jonathan Alpert, author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.”

“Have the character to think it out and the courage to talk it out.”

Here are a few tips to identify, confront and put fear it its place:

Shut your pie hole. To vent or not to vent. Aye, there’s the rub. Venting has its place and it often helps us to feel better and to talk ad nauseam but in reality, it doesn’t help. Venting only provides temporary emotional relief and after the venting is done, the main issues still remain. People with deep seated fears are stuck in emotional and complaint quagmires. Venting becomes the instant responses to focus on the external rather than the real fears that are internal. People don’t want to be around a negative nincompoop. A better strategy: stop chewing on the negatives and venting on life’s injustices, how you’ve been treated and wronged, stop with the negative and focus on the positives. Create, achieve and sustain real change and success with a plan. Discipline and train your emotional brain to fill yourself with positive self-talk; positive affirmations. Know the triggers—people, words, places, events— and stop the negative stuff it its tracks.

“One has to remember these days where the garbage pail is, because it’s so easy to make sounds…but it’s just as hard as it always was to make good music.” Robert Moog, inventor

Change (flip) to the positive. It becomes (almost) second nature to focus on what has gone wrong and what could go wrong than to change your focus and take advantage of what’s right. When fear of the unknown begins to creep into our mind, then what to do? Seek the facts! What’s the evidence? Are you really ‘doomed’ or are you just nervous about what you think are the expected outcomes? Or do you have the expectation and believe that you’re ‘doomed’ again? It’s “The Law of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.” You think it’s inevitable and make it (let it) come true.

“It’s easier to fix damage than it is to create it.” Brian Lamb, executive

Evolve. As humans, our minds are hard-wired to think of all the things that could possibly go wrong. “Fear is compelling because it has served humans well for thousands of years, Alpert said. “It prevented people from going near danger and places that could potentially be life threatening.” Humans do ‘rewire’ their brains and go to the “sounds of the guns.” Our country’s filled with examples of this and the heroes that accomplished great things. The fear of the unknown is not necessarily negative and freezes our emotions and responses. It challenges us like few things in life to respond, often times without pausing or thinking about what we should do. When you acknowledge and overcome your fear(s), you’ll become more mentally tough but also careful to not become emotionally hard.

“Life’s hard by the yard but by the inch it’s a cinch.”

Become familiar with it. The unknown (uncertainty), the fear of loss and criticism—the ‘three horsemen of creation” as entrepreneur Jonathan Fields calls them in his book “Uncertainty”— paints the mental models that can also create unbelievable breakthroughs. “In the context of a single endeavor, you may need to live in this model (space) for hours, days, weeks, months or years until the process takes on enough form to provide the validity of the vision,” he said. Embrace the model and its concepts. This is when your personal core values that include character, competence, courage and perseverance play critical roles.

Take your imagination with you. Make it portable. Everywhere you go there you are. Once you begin to eliminate the personal, then professional self-defeating, potentially catastrophic what if’s and could’ve, would’ve, should’ve emotional responses, begin to envision (visualize) what it is you want to achieve. The development and identification of a vision is just the first step and some may think that’s enough. Earth to readers…It isn’t! Too many people have big wishes and big dreams but lack an action plan to implement their vision. They instinctively and habitually “talk the talk” but seldom “walk the talk.” They choose to not commit and enroll in the process. “Wishful thinking is an outgrowth of fear,” Alpert said. To have a vision and plan to make a million dollars is much harder than looking at a blank check for a million dollars; to ask your boss for a raise or even work smarter and more effectively. What process is most likely to result in more financial security in your bank account? The vision with the most stress and fear. It’s the natural emotional catalyst that drives us to succeed.

“I think hearts are very much like glasses. If they do not break with the first ring, they usually last a considerable time.” Letitia Landon, poet

Grasp the can-dos. “I think I can, I think, I can…I KNEW I could!” Decide that you’ll be the “Little engine that could.” Many organizations have down-sized. If you’ve lost your job or fearful you may lose your job, there’s not much you can do to control the number of positions that may be eliminated or if your position may be one of them. What you can control is your relationships at work, especially with your boss and your work performance. You can, for instance, control if your position is less expendable (make it difficult for them to let you go), and if you choose to continue your education outside of work and learn new skills and enhance your current skills and your marketability. Another “can-do” is identify your personal and professional networks and begin to utilize your contacts as a tool to help you find that new, more challenging and rewarding position. Plan-Do-Check-Act.

Complete. Said another way, “Finish.” Too many fearful people, at the first inkling of failure, stop. Instead of using failure as teaching tool, a “Teachable Moment,” they give-up on themselves and give-in to what they come to believe will be more failures, so they stop trying. That attitude can, and often does, lead to a downward spiral of missed opportunities, bad choices and poor mental and physical health and failed relationships. It’s insidious. Over the years, I’ve asked people why the car windshield is so large and the rear-view mirror is so small. The answer is quite simple; you want to see where you’re headed, not where you’ve been.

“If you believe, then you hang on. Ruth Gordon, actress

As a burn survivor, I was challenged to learn this concept like no other lesson life taught me. I knew that if I wanted to survive and thrive, I had to get off my pity-potty, stop thinking about what may have been and what happened to me and force myself like never before to look out of my life’s windshield and envision success I knew I could achieve. After all, the worst thing that could happen to a human being already happened to me and, when I finally accepted that premise, I knew from then on, there was no second place. So, take your eyes off the rear-view mirror and begin to look through your ‘windshield of life’ and develop a plan; include a few, initial, logical steps you can take that will point you towards a comeback. Replace any negative references—people, places, things— you experienced with positive, sequential examples. As part of your inspiration, vow to make any naysayers wrong! Turn a negative into a positive. Use the ‘adversity’ as a teaching tool. Life’s one BIG Teachable Moment. Failure is not falling down, it’s staying down. Accept it and learn from it. Sure it hurts. That’s life and it’s not always “fair.” Get over it! The sooner you do the better off you’ll be. It’ll strengthen your resolve, deepen your character and enhance your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 4:10

DECIDE ON YOUR TRUE DREAMS AND GOALS. Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to achieve them.

Learn more about Captain George Burk at:  www.georgeburk.com.