Learning Bites #1: How do you overcome fear?

How do you overcome fear - introIf you heard about a 20-minute exercise that could help you overcoming a particular fear, would you be interested in learning more about it?

Today, I would like to introduce to you the first of a series of Learning Bites which I plan to share with you once per month. If you are interested.

What are Learning Bites? In this context, Learning Bites are (very) short learning modules or exercises which have a strong focus on action than on knowledge delivery.

How is this different to the blog posts?


  1. There is not so much to read. 🙂
  2. It is only for those who are more practically oriented and would like to test some of the techniques mentioned and shown on this site.
  3. It is designed to have an immediate learning impact, if you are ready for it.
  4. However, it is not a magic recipe.

 “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  Mark Twain

My biggest step in 2012 and how I mastered it

Before I had decided to put my feet into the unknown deep blue water, i.e. to quit my regular job and become an entrepreneur, I had reflected a lot, I talked to people and I did not sleep well…which means, I had my fears of uncertainty. To deal with those, I also read some books, like “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss or “Uncertainty” by Jonathan Fields, both of which have inspired the exercise I share with you below.

As I have now overcome this particular fear, still very fresh as a two-month entrepreneur, I am relieved that I did it.

How did I do it ? In simple terms, I worked with the advantages and the disadvantages of taking this step (we will get to the details in the exercise). Not only did the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones, it gave me such a level of energy once I took the decision, amazing.

Now, before we get to the exercise…

What does fear do to us?

Here are some positive effects:

  1. It protects us, it is a mechanism which helps us to deal with any type of stress.
  2. This is a normal reflex which most of us have learned even before birth (source).

And some negative effects:

  1. It takes our energy and we can become somewhat paralyzed in some circumstances.
  2. It can have physical effects: headaches, sweating, shortness of breath…
  3. In worst cases it can even lead to health issues (like asthma, allergies and sleeping disorder).

So, my recommendation would be to not only focus on your fear and take it as a given fact, but also to try to deal with it step-by-step. Often on the way we learn why we were actually afraid.

You are ready?

Learning Bites #1: How do you overcome fear?


How do you overcome fear - exercise P1 Part 1 (10 minutes): Self-reflection

Take a piece of paper and a pen, or open up a new document on your device and answer to following questions. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer.


Step 1: Think about one of your biggest goals you have for this year, where you have not progressed a lot. Decide on what is holding you back and write it down. This should not be due to lack of time. Focus on possible internal barriers. Maybe due to uncertainty, like it was for me?

Step 2: Shortly think about why do you believe those barriers exist. Are they excuses for inaction? Would you like to improve?

Step 3: What would be your first steps if you had the energy to move forward? Any advantages?

Step 4: Write down what the worst thing is that could happen if you moved forward. How would you feel, if they occurred?

Step 5: If the worst thing really happens, what steps could you take to repair the damage?


How do you overcome fear - exercise P2Part 2 (10-15 minutes): Conversation

If you have previously shared the goal (Step 1) with a like-minded person, contact this person today when you have some time spare, do not wait too long. If you have not shared it, call you your spouse (or a close friend of yours, your favorite colleague or…).


Step 6: Share your goal and your fear with this person, explain why you could not progress as wanted (tell what you feel comfortable sharing, not more).

Step 7: Ask her/him to help you list the more probable outcomes of your actions towards your goal (including advantages and inconveniences). How would you feel if they become real? Maybe (s)he knows someone who has had a similar fear and found a way to overcome it?


Even if you only complete the first part, this exercise should trigger some thoughts, on how to deal with uncertainty and overcome your fear. And that is already a first step!

Please do not forget, fear should be part of us, not the other way around.

Now, how do you usually overcome fear? What is your feedback on this exercise? Please leave a comment!

Image credit: iStockphoto

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