Why You Should Make Fear Your Friend

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When I hear the phrase Just Do It, I either think of the Shia LaBeouf memes, the Nike motto, or an ex-girlfriend’s Facebook headline, “I get shit done.” (I love that last phrase — simple and proud.)

I’m a Just Do It guy. I have more things started than I’ve finished. I try things that scare me. I think it has given me satisfaction, joy, experience, as well as shaped my personality — for the better.

And why not? I have lots of things I want to do. I certainly don’t have time for a meeting to discuss setting up a meeting, in order to come back in a future meeting scenario. I don’t have time to think, and think, and think, only to get distracted and miss the opportunity to effectively activate anything. I know people who chose that as their modus operandi, and that’s fine. It’s simply not my style, and I prefer not to be a part of it (when I can avoid it —truth is, the necessary requirement of working with other humans sometimes interferes with my M.O.).

See, when I was a kid, I was allowed to cross highways with my bicycle. I was allowed to venture into new neighborhoods. I met bad influences and tried new things. Sure, it led to some scary moments, but I learned things I couldn’t learn any other way. I progressed. I believe these risks were an important part of my maturation. It reminds me of something I heard author Julien Smith say years ago:

“Touch the burner.”

How do you know the way something will go unless you try?

You learn best by developing your own common sense, not being paralyzed by over-thinking. Sure, you can pick wisdom up through studying and research, but converting the information into an action is the truest way to “get shit done.” It’s practical knowledge vs theoretical knowledge. I’m pro-experiment. I’m pro-speed.

I remember being shown the deliverables of a certain local competitor. They are a search marketing agency who was trying to make video content for clients. It looked terrible, with Windows Live Movie Maker default animations. I laughed at the time, saying to myself, “what a rip-off they’re peddling to their clients.”

But now I see it a bit differently — they at least jumped in with both feet. They challenged the unknown. They touched the burner. Today their videos might be better, and they could be succeeding in achieving their marketing goals. For all I know, they might now have the absolute greatest video marketing offering known to man.

That’s a hell of a lot better than not even trying.

They threw themselves into the lion’s den. Trial by fire. They lived to fight another day, hopefully with more experiences than scratches. I must commend that.

Fear is the enemy. But fear can also be your best friend.

Accomplished people take chances. They do what scares them. They grind through the anxiety to eventually bask in the glory of success. They own their mistakes, and grow from the slaying of fear. Fear can be an advantage because it naturally suppresses much of your competition.

Think of all the wasted time and opportunity you missed because you didn’t even dip your toe in the water. Your dreams could be true today.

It’s no different in your professional life than your personal life. In business, I recommend for everyone to adopt the simple phrase. But many companies are afraid to risk their dollars on an untested idea. They simply decide they don’t need to be first.

But they’re willing to be last? Sometimes in the eyes of consumers, there’s only two positions.

That makes no sense to me. I’m not suggesting you simply fly blind; just don’t cripple yourself with caution. Don’t freeze on a dream or halt a program because you are afraid change — Instead, do a little homework, learn the foundation, and jump the hell in with your yet-untested changes. Don’t be afraid to waste some money. In this case, is learning what doesn’t work actually a waste?

Nobody ever looked back on their life and thought positively about all the time they were afraid and immobile. Listen to Shia. He got this one right.

I’m Bill Sebald, a 20 year digital marketer, owner of Greenlane, teacher, artist, and story teller. I love networking and learning about new people in business and the arts. I welcome all chances to build serendipity and collaboration.

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