Fear and confidence is a topic that seems to continue coming up as I speak with clients. It came up a number of times last week at our mastermind event in Arizona, so I talked about it more on my weekly mastermind video call. Since then, I’ve continued to have a number of people bring it up so I want to continue the conversation here.
“One of the best ways to overcome fear of any kind is to habituate yourself to it.”Darren Hardy
What Darren Hardy’s suggesting is that you face your fear head-on and bombard yourself with it until you don’t fear it any longer.
When the average person fears speaking in public more than death, how does the military take young teenage kids and create brave soldiers out of them? How do they take soldiers into SEAL training and make ultimate warriors out of them?
When bullets start flying, what is it that makes these men and women run towards the battle rather than run away?
During bootcamp or SEAL BUD/S training they are put through endless fear, pressure and stress at extreme levels until their fear turns into confidence.
Have you ever heard of Hell Week?
In Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, he gives a glimpse of Hell Week:
It was night three into the infamous Hell Week of SEAL training. The students, in camouflage fatigues, were soaked to the bone and covered in gritty sand that chafed them until they were raw and bleeding They shivered from the cold ocean water and cool wind of the Southern California night. The students moved with the aches and pains as only those who have suffered through seventy-two hours straight of nearly nonstop physical exertion can. Exhausted, over the previous three days they had slept for less than one hour total. Since Hell Week had begun, dozens of them had quit. Others had become sick or injured and were pulled from training. When this class had started Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (known as BUD/S) – the SEAL basic training course – several weeks before, nearly two hundred determined young men had eagerly begun. All dreamed of becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL, prepared for years, and came to BUD/S with every intention of graduating. And yet within the first forty-eight hours of Hell Week, most of those young men had surrendered to the brutal challenge, rung the bell three times – the signal for DOR, or drop on request – and walked away from their dream of becoming a SEAL. They quit.
I’m told that about 80% of those who start BUD/S do not finish. But those who do know that they are the elite. They’ve been through hell and back and survived. There’s nothing they can’t handle.
If you can train your brain to run towards bullets and bombs in battle, think how easy it can be to train yourself to run towards the stage to speak, or to make a prospect call, or to approach a group of strangers that you want to introduce yourself to.
As I reflected on my own life and thought about fears that I’ve had that I was able to turn into confidence, I thought back to my senior year in high school. I seemed to have followed in my older brothers footsteps in a lot of things as I was growing up. When he was in Rexburg ID going to college he started to rodeo. He started as a bareback rider and then took up roping and later steer wrestling. Soon, I was into the rodeo scene as well and was traveling the high school rodeo circuit as a calf roper and team roper. But as I watched him in the steer wrestling (bulldogging), I knew that was something I wanted to do someday.
If you’re not familiar with steer wrestling, I’ll explain what it is. I’ve heard a number of rodeo announcers compare it to getting into the back up a truck, having someone drive it down the road at 30mph and then you jump out of the back onto a passing mailbox. Maybe it’s not quite the same, but it gives you an idea.
In steer wrestling you have a steer in a chute that you let out and give a head start. You also have another cowboy (called the hazer) on a horse that is on the right side of the steer and his job is just to make the steer run straight. The steer wrestler is on his horse on the left side of the steer. After giving the steer a head start the steer wrestler chases the steer down going as fast as the horse can run. As the horse runs past the steer, the steer wrestler jumps off of the horse, grabbing the horns of the steer. He then digs his feet into the ground to slow the steer down and without getting into the techniques, he wrestles the steer to the ground.
At least that is how it’s supposed to happen. I’ve seen steers outrun the cowboys. I’ve seen the cowboys miss and land on their butts at 30mph and all sorts of other wrecks. I’ve seen the cowboy hit the ground as his horse stumbled and then as the horse fell it landed on his head. Well, I didn’t actually see that but that’s what they told me happened once I regained consciousness. But really, the scary part is the fact that you are riding a horse which is running as fast as it can and you jump off of it onto the horns of a steer.
I remember calling my brother and telling him that I’d like him to teach me how to steer wrestle. He said he would love to and the next time they were doing it he would let me know and I could come and watch.
“Well, it’s a little more complicated than that,” I told him. “I actually entered the steer wrestling in a rodeo next weekend. So I need you to teach me before Friday!”
“Do the thing you fear over and over again, until you train your brain that it’s no longer something to be feared.“Darren Hardy
To make a long story short, the next day we were at the practice pen and I was ready to learn. As my brother was talking me through the process he told me something that I was well aware of. He told me that when you first start out, the actual process of jumping off of the horse onto the steer was the scariest part. But he also told me that from all the people he had watch learn to steer wrestle, those that took multiple attempts but never actually jumped struggled the most. Every time they tried but did not jump, it was twice as scary the next time. Some of them ended up riding past the steer multiple times and finally decided they were done and never tried it again.
But he had a solution for this, he told me. He said that if my nerves got to me and I rode by the first steer, it was ok. Nothing to worry about. But that meant that no matter what I had to jump off on my second attempt to prevent the fear from building up. He also told me that it wouldn’t be a problem because they had a way to make sure I jumped.
If I rode past the first steer without jumping, on my second attempt the hazer, riding on the opposite side, would have a rope which would be tied around my waste. If I made the jump, great! But if I didn’t make the jump and was going to ride by, he would pull me off the horse.
With my heart pounding out of my chest and enough adrenaline to stop a freight train, I started chasing down my first steer. As scary as it was, there was no way my brother was going to put a rope around my waste and pull me off of my horse. I jumped my very first steer, plus a number of others that night.
It wasn’t after that one night that I began to feel confident in the process. But the more I did it, the more confident I became. But the fear part never disappeared 100%, but it changed to excitement and energy. Even once I was steer wrestling at the professional level, there were many times I had my heart pounding out of my chest. But every time I jumped, the fear became less and less and my confidence grew.
Oh, and by the way, I won second place at that first rodeo!
“My confidence comes from my vision… I am a big believer that if you have a clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier.“Arnold Schwarzenegger (Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris)
So, if you have a fear of speaking, what should you do? Speak! Wherever you can. Find opportunities to speak and in spite of your fears, do it. If you have fears of calling prospects. Call them. Whatever your fears are, face them and do them so much that you become confident doing them.
“Even when everything is going terrible, andI have no reason to be confident, I just decide to be“Derek Sivers (Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris)
I know that you can have fears that are much different than the fear of speaking or the fear of jumping off of a horse at full speed. The fear of hurting your family financially if you fail would be an example. But that is when finding a coach, a mentor or a mastermind comes in useful. Through these resources you can strategize, plan, role-play, etc. until you know how to proceed with a much lower level of risk and a higher level of confidence.
Overcome the fears that are holding you back from achieving your dreams!
Leave a comment below about something that you once feared but overcame it with action and it’s no longer a fear.