Managing Fear: Killer of Many Brilliant Ideas

I was recently asked to speak to a group of young founders and CEO’s at PejmanMar Ventures in Palo Alto. I selected a topic that’s not very often addressed in these types of events.  I chose to talk about managing fear – specifically how to crush your fears – what I believe to be a killer of brilliant ideas!

We have all heard that critical inner-voice in our heads. “What if my idea doesn’t work? What if I fail to build the right team? What if I blow this chance? What if they don’t like my presentation? What if I can’t handle it? What if I’m thinking too small… or too big? What if she says no? What if I fall flat on my face?” On and on. . .

These questions and the underlying feelings associated with them are common occurrences in life if you are a dreamer – an achiever – a doer. For many, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs are bigger challenges than the task at hand. Whether starting a new business venture, competing in a sporting event or asking for a first date, the critical inner-voice seems to always show up when the stakes are big.

At the root of these relentless questions and the nagging uncertainties lies fear. Fear is the enemy. It leads to self-doubt, lack of focus, and self-sabotage. Fear often derails the most brilliant and talented among us before we have a chance to shine. It is fear that must be conquered before we can tackle our biggest dreams.

What is fear?

Fear itself was an illusion and a product of our own thought process. To borrow a phrase from my coaching practice, FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.

Fear shows up in many ways:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of inadequacy
  • Fear of appearing foolish

The real problem with fear is how it shows up in our lives. It manifests psychologically as anxiety, stress and nervousness. These symptoms are created by the fears listed above. The fears create self-doubt, loss of direction and even self-sabotage. Doubts and insecurities often result in indecision, second-guessing and loss of direction – behaviors that will ruin your hopes and dreams. The root cause of these problems is fear.

What’s the solution for managing fear?

To prepare for dealing with your fears you must:

  • Realize that fear is made up—it’s not real
  • Develop internal strength and cultivate awareness about fear
  • Recognize you are more than your job, trophies or prom date – know your purpose
  • Change your thinking
  • Take action
  • Repeat

 How to CRUSH Your Fears

3 Phases of Managing Fear—The Process

There are many methods to deal with fear and its effect in your life. However, like any other block in our lives, there are three main phases to battle fear:

Phase 1—Awareness

This is the first step – we must acknowledge our fear and decide to remove the limiting effects from our lives. The simple act of accepting that we are fearful of something helps lighten the load off our shoulders and get us ready to tackle the problem. Awareness involves tuning in to your thoughts, senses and feelings. This is achieved by being fully present in the moment. Learn to live mindfully.

Phase 2—Paradigm Shift

To take the next step, we must change the way we think about the fear. We need to develop new, empowering beliefs about fear and our own abilities to overcome it. This phase of the process is pivotal in managing fear. This is where we go from awareness to taking actual action that will combat the fear. A paradigm shift involves planning, as you prepare for action. The action steps are deliberate and goal-directed, as indicated below in the CRUSH model.

Phase 3—Cultivation

The key to making a long lasting change in life is to continually practice a proven process. As we take steps to repeat this process, we get better at dealing with fear in different situations. Before we know it, dealing with fear becomes second nature to us. Cultivating new habits involves developing a process that works, and applying it consistently. Soon the new process becomes a proven system – and a habit.

CRUSH Your Fears

As indicated in the graphic above, you CAN crush your fears and tame the critical inner-voice. Use the CRUSH model and follow the steps below to take control of your fears – and your success.

Confess your fears out loud to yourself and/or to anyone you trust (colleague, coach, etc.)

  • Take a load off your shoulders

Recognize its nature and allow yourself to feel the fear.

  • Define/describe what it is that you’re afraid of.
  • Ask questions like, “What about that makes me fearful?”
  • Be OK with it. It’s normal to have fears.

Uproot old beliefs and replace them with new, positive ideas. This requires a paradigm shift. Try the following techniques:

  • Be aware of your self-talk. What are you saying to yourself that helps/hurts you? We have two minds, positive and negative—use the right one
  • Ask the right question—“How can I improve?”
  • Re-balance fear—Change fear into excitement – get excited about your challenge.
  • Consider the fear of doing something vs. the fear of not doing it.
  • Develop an empowering perspective. All outcomes are a learning experience, there is no failure!

Show up by taking action.“Action is the engine of experience.” “Do it trembling, but do it”

  • Before taking action—prepare, prepare and prepare.
  • Visualize still being afraid, but handling the situation in an acceptable manner.
  • Change your physical state. (Breathing exercises, standing tall, smiling…)
  • Expose yourself to the feared situation by taking on tasks that include what you fear.

Habitualize by making these steps part of your routine, and then celebrate your success!

  • Repeat the process over and over again… you’ll get better at it.
  • Reinforce by celebrating your achievements–small or big!
  • Reinforce by celebrating your team’s achievements–small or big!
  • Make progress a lifestyle and beat FEAR.

With the CRUSH method, you can tame your fear and move on to your true purpose in life. This system works! It works for me and it will work for you, if you follow the steps listed above.

If you would you like more information, or think you might benefit from coaching to apply the CRUSH method for managing fear in your life, contact Frank Kamal at