Fear, Risk & Loss

Over 25 years ago Susan Jeffers wrote a book called “feel the fear and do it anyway”. And yet the world is still filled with people too scared to leap into their unknowns. Why?

I think I may have discovered why, and an important secret about fear.


The training I’m professionally certified in allows me to peek inside the mindsets of many. I thank the world every day for the honour. The fact that fear is still here and keeping good people stuck should come as no surprise to any of us. But nowadays, the surprise can be found in what we’re actually afraid of. We think too much about stuff that isn’t actually there. More often, our fears are perception based.

A majority of my clients experience the same three roadblocks as I do, all of them anchored to perceived fears. Specifically around risk and loss. Oh yes, yours truly is not immune. Even though I’m a speaker and a coach and a mentor, I didn’t get here without risk and the threat of loss. Some risks were small and easily mitigated, some were huge and potentially quit damaging.

Top three Fears

Here’s three of the most common fear riddled roadblocks I hear from those who share their stories with me.

  1. Gossip and ridicule, criticism and judgement. The thought of someone thinking poorly of us is (to many) a fate worse than death. Ego plays a huge part in our perceived fears. But if we were to focus less on ego we’d increase our forward momentum. Put simply, when you don’t give a stuff about what others think, you’re more likely to get things done. Mind the arrogance though, be wise about what you dismiss.
  2. Failure and hardship, losing everything. The fear of having a go and it not working out. What if I succumb to an unknown variable? What if I don’t make it past year one? What if it all goes bad and I lose everything? This is the language of loss, and it’s a crap language. The language of loss holds more people hostage than any P.O.W. camp ever did. Don’t write yourself off before you’ve even started. Work smarter to control the risks and you can overcome this loss mentality.
  3. A lack of knowledge, and a lack of knowing the potential risks. When you start out chasing your hopes and dreams you invariably wear a lot of hats. Whether you’re planning an once-in-a-lifetime holiday or starting up a new business, the number of hats can be overwhelming. We all need to research, learn, and seek out assistance. So do we train more? Take courses? Do night school or study on weekends? Outsource or insource? Even though knowledge is power, the perceived fear here is all about the unknown. The risks are high, until you seek out people to have in your corner. Lose a hat or two and take some pressure off your own neck.

The Secret?

So there’s the three most commonly perceived fears. Now for my one big secret to reducing those fears around risk and loss. Jump in and do it. Yep sorry folks, it really is that simple. Susan is right. Be afraid and do it anyway. But let me share a quick story with you to illustrate.

I was chatting with my good friend Andrew Ford the other day. I quickly stopped in to his office to wish him and his brand new business a happy second birthday. About 90 minutes later I walked out deep in thought. We’d had an impromptu yet deep conversation about some classic “what would happen if” hypotheticals. And it really got me thinking. You see I’m at a point in both business and in life where in order for me to change it up a gear, the fears and risks are huge. Not perceived fears either, we’re talking 100% tangible. Or are we?

The Strategy

Have you ever heard a financial adviser say “the bigger the risk, the bigger the rewards”? Maybe that’s why money minded people all have portfolios that spread risk across several platforms. Life is like that too wouldn’t you agree? Big risks, big gains? We’re hardly going to earn a premiership medal as an armchair sports player. And it’s unlikely we’ll ever feel a rush of adrenalin laying sideways on the couch. How are you ever going to earn that nest-egg for that awesome idea you’ve had, if you don’t put yourself out there and risk having people see you in a different light?

Even though I know what I’m afraid of, and even though I’ve successfully run businesses in the past, this time around it has suddenly become obvious that I’m not risking as honestly as I might have thought I was. Uh oh. I think it might be time for me to become a little more scared than usual. Ego move aside, time to get stuff done.

Susan thank you. 25 years later I believe I will acknowledge my fears and get on with the doing. Because it is only through doing can we all enjoy the having.

Originally published at theshiftinitiator.com on September 27, 2015.

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