The universal truth about fear is that it affects everyone one of us. But when was the last time we stopped to really analyze our fears?
Not only to see what they are but also to see what they stop us from becoming.
How many opportunities do we miss by avoiding things we’re afraid of?
The reality is we’ll never know. There could be life-changing jobs, friendships and business connections, just waiting to be taken or formed.
And that’s the scary side effect of letting fear control our lives: we never know what we’re truly capable of achieving. We risk years of regret, what-ifs, and should-have-dones by giving fear the keys and letting it decide our ultimate destination.
Despite all its uncertainty, fear does make a few guarantees:
Fear kills dreams.
Fear holds us back.
Fear distorts our world.
And fear determines our success or failure.
It has the ability to infect our minds, sneak its way into our everyday language, and consume all of our thoughts —if we let it.
We can’t let our fears stop us like this, if we want to achieve at the highest level. In fact, top-performers learn how to act in spite of their fears. They crush fear before it has a chance to fester and destroy.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Michael Jordan: Arguably, the greatest basketball player of all time. Do you remember how he began his career? He didn’t even start on his college basketball team. He wasn’t just handed a plate of basketball talents and told “Enjoy!” Not at all. He worked his ass off until he reached the pinnacle of success. And he knows what it takes to overcome obstacles and barriers.
What does he say about fear?
“Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”
Fears are just an illusion. Something we create in our heads that stops us from achieving at the highest level. Look where this belief got him in life: Hall of Fame, Greatest Player of All-time, and still getting multimillion dollar endorsement deals years after playing in the NBA.
Another great example: Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of our time. He’s amassed so much wealth from savvy investing that he’s literally bailed out entire countries on the brink of bankruptcy. Our government and top CEOs around the world turn to him in times of crises for investing advice.
What is one of his basic tenets of investing?
“Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”
Translation: His greatest investments have come from taking huge risks in the face of fear. When there’s blood on the streets and nobody can think clearly about their investments, Buffett’s out there buying stocks, hand over fists. He doesn’t let fear stop him; in fact he uses it to his advantage. And he’s one of the wealthiest people of all time.
Successful people leave clues for us. So what are top-performers, like Buffett and Jordan, showing us?
Face your fears, and you’ll get the payoffs.
Without taking risks, without facing our fears, and without pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone, we can never reach our true potential.
It’s really that simple.
SO why don’t more of us do exactly that?
Because a lot of us hear advice like this and think “Ha! Easy for you to say! You don’t have [insert disadvantage], and I don’t have [insert excuse about time or resources].”
Immediately, we react with how our situation is SO special, SO unique, and SO different from everyone else.
It’s an automatic defense mechanism that flares up.
What’s really happening here?
We’re creating a story for ourselves. We’re rationalizing our fears and inaction. Nobody wants to feel like a fool; I get that.
I used to feed myself story after story. I hated feeling bad about myself, and stories created quick fixes to feel better.
In reality, I was hiding from the truth.
So let’s be honest with each other
The truth makes us uncomfortable, especially when it exposes weaknesses inside ourselves. It makes me cringe when I think back on the laundry list of excuses I used to delay improving myself. In fact years ago, I had dozens of books on personal development, filled with tactic after tactic, scattered all throughout my room. I had no excuse not to follow through, yet I allowed fear remain in control. I’d go chasing another tactic, claiming I wasn’t ready yet; I needed to work on just one more thing. And nothing got done.
I knew it was BS then, but it was comforting to hide from fear.
I did this for years; until I realized we have the power within us to make decisions, and we empower ourselves by taking actions toward our goals, no matter how daunting they may seem today.
No matter how fearful we might be, we never improve by continuously consuming information alone. You have to go out in the world and try things.
You can have disproportionate rewards in life.
100x your next closest competitor. I’m talking about absolutely crushing your goals; Defying your wildest expectations, with regard to every area life achievements.
But to do that, you must escape the shackles of fear.
Behind every fear is the person you want to be. If you tackle your fears, you can become the person of your dreams.
Yoda said it best, “Named your fear must be, before banish it you can.”
And that’s exactly what we’re doing today: Banishing Fear. For life.
For years, decades even, you may have walked around, letting fear guide you, letting it beat you down and make you its victim.
Today, let’s turn the tide. Flip the script and make fear your slave.
Today, let’s face fear head on and empower ourselves to break free.
Your challenge for today: start crushing your fears in five simple steps
1) Specific goals: Make a list of 5 things you’ve really wanted to do but haven’t because fear has been holding you back. It can be anything, even something as simple as saying “Hi” to a colleague when you walk past them in the hall all the way to initiating a full-scale conversation with someone new. Be creative and don’t hesitate to write anything down. If you want it, list it. Even if you think it’s silly or you can’t do it just yet, don’t let that stop you for now. Just write it all down, and we’ll get to that later. Ideally, you should spend 2-3 minutes brainstorming things you want to do, but it may take you less time.
Whatever you do, just get to 5 things.
Here are a few questions you might ask yourself to uncover hidden areas where fear may be stopping you from acting:
· Have you wanted to make small talk with someone specific but keep putting it off?
· Have you wanted to speak up in a meeting, but can’t find the words to say or the confidence to deliver it?
· Have you been putting off asking that girl/guy out to lunch?
· Is there some place you’ve wanted to go, but felt it would be weird to go alone?
· Is there a group or organization you’ve wanted to join, but didn’t know who you’d be able to talk to there?
Once you have your list of 5 things, move on to the next step. But don’t skip ahead. Be thorough here. I promise if you go through the exercise correctly, you’ll reap the rewards.
2) Selection: Now that you have your list of 5 things/action items, take a second to review it. Really go back over it and make sure you don’t want to add anything else. Okay, what you’re going to do next might shock you, but I want you to select only the top two goals that you’d like to achieve. Shelve the other four things for now. You’re going to focus all of your mental energy on this one goal. This should be the utmost important to you. Something that, if you accomplished them, would make you feel incredibly excited, overjoyed even. Circle just one.
Keep moving, now, to the next step.
3) Systematize: Here’s where get very strategic in our approach. Anyone can make a list of goals and feel good for a moment. But for most people, goals go into a pile of dreams and wishes to remain unfinished. We differentiate ourselves by creating a plan to follow through. So now, let’s create a simple set of action steps to help achieve your goal. For example, if my goals was to start a conversation with one of my colleagues, I’d include the time of day I planned to talk to them; I’d make sure to plan on starting the conversation on day when I wasn’t pressed for time so I could be more present and authentic; I’d even go so far as to script out a conversation, not only with what I’d plan on saying to initiate a quick chat, but also, with what I’d say to exit the conversation, if I started to feel uncomfortable.
4) See: Create a vivid vision of yourself following through on your goal and conquering your fears. Let the positive emotions wash over you that come from taking this action. Allow yourself to enjoy this moment, and see yourself as truly being successful. Remember, our minds can’t tell a vision in our heads apart from something that actually happens to us. So you can use this to your advantage and practice in advance, without actually having to take action just yet. The more vivid and real you can make your vision, the more powerful this exercise becomes. So include, how things look, smell, and feel in your visualization.
5) Lastly, start fulfilling your dreams, today. Go out and take action toward your goal. Now that you know what you want to do, how to do it, and have seen yourself be successful, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
Most people don’t work on their dreams or try to channel greatness. They let life happen to them and fear ruins every accomplishment. What will you do?
Fear of failure is one of the main factors stopping people getting what they want. We can be so scared of failure that we don’t even bother trying! It’s one of the main factors that differentiates people who get what they want and those who don’t. What if we viewed mistakes as learning rather than telling ourselves we failed? Here are some quotes about failure that I hope will inspire you to succeed:
1. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
2. “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” – Zig Ziglar
3. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
4. “Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything.” -Marilyn Monroe
5. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford
6. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
7. “Some people experience failure and give up. I see it as a new way to grow and develop!”– Amanda Gore
8. “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby
9. “It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
10. “There is no secret to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
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He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.
And yet he finishes work at 5:30PM every day and rarely works weekends.
No, he does not have superpowers or a staff of 15. Okay, let’s you and I both stop being jealous of his productivity for a second and learn something.
Below you’ll get Cal’s secrets on how you can better manage your time, stop being lazy, get more done — and be finished by 5:30. Let’s get to work.
1) To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?
It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.
Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.
Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.
This study was designed to identify the relationship between free time management and quality of life, exploring whether the amount of free time or the way people using their free time relates to their quality of life… The result has found a positive relationship between free time management and quality of life.
(For more on the schedule the most productive people use, click here.)
Okay, the to-do list is in the trash and things are going on the calendar. How do you prioritize so you’re not at work forever?
2) Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
Work will fill the space it’s given. Give it 24/7 and guess what happens?
You need boundaries if you want work/life balance. But this also helps you work better because it forces you to be efficient.
By setting a deadline of 5:30 and then scheduling tasks you can get control over that hurricane of duties.
Cal calls it “fixed schedule productivity”:
Fix your ideal schedule, then work backwards to make everything fit — ruthlessly culling obligations, turning people down, becoming hard to reach, and shedding marginally useful tasks along the way. My experience in trying to make that fixed schedule a reality forces any number of really smart and useful in-the-moment productivity decisions.
Over and over, scientists see that the perception of control over a stressor alters the stressor’s impact.
(For more on how to achieve work/life balance, click here.)
You’ve drawn a line in the sand and worked backward, giving all your tasks hours in your day. But how do you handle longer term projects?
3) Make A Plan For The Entire Week
I think you’ll agree that the last thing this world needs is more short term thinking.
You’ll never get ahead of the game by only looking at today and never thinking about tomorrow.
How do you write books, teach classes, meet with students, do research papers and be a good parent consistently? Plan the week.
People don’t look at the larger picture with their time and schedule. I know each day what I’m doing with each hour of the day. I know each week what I’m doing with each day of the week and I know each month what I’m doing with each week of the month.
Are you rolling your eyes? Does this sound overbearing? It’s simpler than you think. What’s really necessary?
Just one hour every Monday morning. Here’s Cal:
Every Monday I lay out a plan for the week. I go through my inbox, I go through my task list, I go through my calendar and try to come away with the best thing to do with each day this week. I write it in an email and I send it to myself and leave it in my inbox because that’s a place I know I will see it every day and I’ll be reminded of it multiple times throughout the day.
Preliminary analysis from CEOs in India found that a firm’s sales increased as the CEO worked more hours. But more intriguingly, the correlation between CEO time use and output was driven entirely by hours spent in planned activities. Planning doesn’t have to mean that the hours are spent in meetings, though meetings with employees were correlated with higher sales; it’s just that CEO time is a limited and valuable resource, and planning how it should be allocated increases the chances that it’s spent in productive ways.
Maybe you think it’s enough to run down the week’s duties in your head. Nope.
You’re judged on what you do best so if you want to have as much success as possible you’re always better off doing fewer things but doing those things better. People say yes to too much. I say no to most things. I’m ruthless about avoiding or purging tasks if I realize they’re just not providing much value.
You feel like you have no time but John Robinson, the leading researcher on time use, disagrees. We may have more free time than ever.
He insists that although most Americans feel they’re working harder than ever, they aren’t. The time diaries he studies show that average hours on the job, not only in the United States but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody, he says, has more time for leisure.
So what gives? It feels like you have no time because it’s so fragmented with little annoying tasks that drain the life out of you.
(For more on what the most successful people do, click here.)
Your plans are in order and by doing less, it all fits on the schedule. But one question remains: what exactly should you be doing with your time?
5) Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff
All work is not created equal. Cal says knowledge workers deal with two fundamentally different types of work, Shallow and Deep:
Shallow work is little stuff like email, meetings, moving information around. Things that are not really using your talents. Deep work pushes your current abilities to their limits. It produces high value results and improves your skills.
And what’s the problem? Most of us are “drowning in the shallows”:
People who are the most busy often are getting a lot less done of significance than the people who are able to stop by 5PM every day. That’s because the whole reason they need to work at night and on the weekends is because their work life has become full of just shallows. They’re responding to messages, moving information around and being a human network router. These things are very time consuming and very low value.
Nobody in the history of the universe ever became CEO because they responded to more email or went to more meetings. No way, Bubba.
Cal has it right: Shallow work stops you from getting fired — but deep work is what gets you promoted.
Give yourself big blocks of uninterrupted time to make things of value. What’s the best first step?
…whenever possible, do not check email for the first hour or two of the day. It’s difficult for some people to imagine. “How can I do that? I need to check email to get the information I need to work on my most important one or two to-dos?”
You would be surprised how often that is not the case. You might need to get into your email to finish 100% of your most important to-dos. But can you get 80 or 90% done before you go into Gmail and have your rat brain explode with freak-out, dopamine excitement and cortisol panic? Yes.
(For more on how to motivate yourself, click here.)
So how do we tie all this together?
Cal’s five big tips:
To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
Make A Plan For The Entire Week
Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them
Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff823
Schedules and plans sound cold and clinical but the end result couldn’t be farther from that.
You’ll be less stressed, create more time for friends and family, and make things you can be proud of.
Knowledge work is really just craftsmanship. It’s just that what you’re crafting is information and not carved wood. You’re crafting ideas. You’re crafting knowledge out of raw material and the more you think about it like a craftsman, the happier and more satisfied you’ll be, not to mention more successful.
The offices of the world could use a few less cubicle drones and a few more proud craftsmen.
Sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt.
Have you ever had someone give you their professional opinion or worst yet, paid for professional advice only to walk away with an uneasy feeling?
Here are some examples of advice perhaps better off ignored. BTW, my favorite is the example from Avinash Kaushik.
Julie Fleischer Director, Data + Content + Media, Kraft Foods Group @jfly
Hands down the worst advice I’ve received is to religiously input past results into forecasts of future ones and then build plans accordingly. Consumers and the communications landscape are changing too fast to keep doing what you’ve always done and expecting the same (or better!) returns.
Success requires knowing your consumer today (not yesterday), open-mindedness to new ideas, media experimentation and innovation.
Avinash Kaushik Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google @avinash
Anything that starts with “All you need is to rock SEO!” The bit at the end could be Email, Social, Site Experience, Paid Search, Affiliate, anything really. That advice is a demonstration of I’m a one-trick pony and so let me do the one dance I know.
It takes a complex mix of marketing strategies by companies to win. We’ve grown up with silos. Any advice related to optimizing one silo falls in the category of “worst marketing advice.”
The best employees/consultants obsess about optimizing for a Marketing Portfolio and possess the incredible capacity to understand each channel’s purpose, are able to recommend content matches in response to the customer need, and finally measure success of that portfolio strategy. [I call this the See-Think-Do-Care framework.]
You know you have great marketing advice if it represents clear thought for the entire marketing portfolio and the advice’s role in it.
Michelle Lapierre Senior Director, Customer Experience & Social Media at Marriott Rewards @mmlap
Here’s the brand style guide – don’t deviate”. As if:
* What worked in print and email channels would magically transfer to social channels.
* Talking about ourselves – with the right font and color palette – was the priority. * Giving no regard to the social conversation, and adapting to that conversation, was the norm.
* The command-and-control method of brand marketing still existed.
Mei Lee VP, Marketing – Digital at Conde Nast Entertainment @himelee
The worst marketing advice I’ve heard recently is to use the same ad creative across all social media platforms because you want your campaign message to be consistent everywhere.
Customers behave differently on each social media platform. Their need states vary from Facebook to Instagram to Vine. Your ad copy and call-to-action should be customized to meet specific need states.
Rebecca Lieb Industry Analyst, The Altimeter Group @lieblink I recall getting a call from a junior-level marketing person at a major publishing house. A big-brand, very conservative, financial publication. Her boss had numbers to meet, so instructed her to buy a shady piece of software (from Russia) off the web that scraped email addresses. He needed bigger email marketing lists. Her desperate query to me was, “I know this is wrong. Could you please help me to explain to him why this is wrong?”
Matt McGowan Strategy at Google (COO of Americas Ad Agency Business) @matt_mcgowan
“Do it for the for the award shows!”
Jennifer Mesenbrink Senior Manager, Digital and Social Content Strategy Motorola Solutions @EditorThink
My personal pet peeve with managing social media is that people assume you can just delete negative comments or ignore them. Yes, you can choose that path with your personal social media accounts, but when you’re managing a business account, that is literally the exact opposite way to handle those interactions via social media. Social media is about entering into a conversation with those vocal dissenters – answering their questions, solving problems, addressing their concerns in a legitimate way — so you can change that customer’s opinion. It’s not a problem – it’s a social opportunity.
Joe Pulizzi Founder, Content Marketing Institute and Author, “Epic Content Marketing” @JoePulizzi
One thing that has really bothered me is how many times I hear these two words – Have to.
* You “have to” be on Facebook.
* You “have to” blog.
* You “have to” do Google Adwords.
I’ve had the opportunity to listen to literally dozens of marketing speeches where so-called experts have said these two words. Not once have I ever agreed with that. Marketing is both art and science.
There is no “one way” to do things. If you ever hear someone say that there is something you MUST do…that there is no other way…my advice is…run.
Mark Schaefer Consultant, Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, Adjunct Marketing Professor, Rutgers University @markwschaefer
There is a lot of bad advice out there but one mantra that sticks in my head is to “be controversial” to get traffic to your site.
To me, this is like playing with fire. I can’t imagine convincing my boss that a company and a carefully-groomed brand should mindfully be associated with forced negativity. If the thing blows up in a bad way, you’re into damage control and even if it works, can you really sustain “controversy” as a strategy? This is different than holding a legitimate opinion or taking a stand in an authentic way.
What is the worst marketing advice that you have ever received or heard? Share with our readers in the comments below.
Use These 10 Steps to Get Referral Business from Your Clients
Everyone loves referral business! Unfortunately, not everyone takes an active interest in generating referral leads. Consider the following statistic: 91 percent of consumers are willing to give referrals, yet only 11 percent of people ask for them. It doesn’t take a math wiz to see there’s a gold mine of referral dollars being left on the table.
Despite what you may have heard, referral business won’t take care of itself. In fact, drumming up referrals can be quite a challenge. You not only have to lead the horse to water, but you also have to make the water worth drinking—and that means being proactive and providing exceptional value.
Take an active interest in your clients’ happiness and they’ll be more likely to return the favor. With that in mind, try our 10-point proactive approach to earning (and increasing) referral business long-term.
Think about your past experiences—your greatest successes and your most dismal failures. See any patterns? Timing is everything, and finding the right time to ask for referral business can be a matter of trial, error and strategic adjustment.
Consider your best successes, determine when you made the initial referral request and base future inquiries on the same timeframe. If you’ve found that asking for referrals too early in the transaction puts relatively unfamiliar clients on the defensive, implement a more patient approach. Speaking of patience…
While asking for referrals in the early stages of the transaction may not yield the best results, that doesn’t mean you can’t drop a few hints along the way. As Paul Simon once said, “you don’t need to be coy, Roy.” After all, 85 percent of small businesses say word-of-mouth referrals are the number one way new prospects discover their businesses.
Let clients know that your business thrives on word-of-mouth and referral leads, and that means you’re willing to do everything within your power to make sure they’re satisfied with the transaction and willing to tell their friends about it. Planting this seed early will make the actual referral request that much easier later on.
It should go without saying, but everything we’re talking about hinges on a job well done. Anything less and you can kiss those referral leads goodbye! Pay close attention to the feedback you receive directly from customers or through online reviews and use that information to improve your services. By delivering the best experience possible, you’ll make your customers happy, and happy customers tell their friends!
Once the transaction is complete, many people pat themselves on the back and prepare to move on. This is a huge mistake. Consider the following:
A recent survey by AutoTrader.com found that 69 percent of consumers have experienced buyer’s remorse after purchasing a car.
The Washington Post reports that one in four homeowners experience buyer’s remorse after buying a new home.
Buyer’s remorse is very real, and it’s NOT industry specific. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling insurance, real estate or beauty products, your clients will likely experience a period of self doubt and regret just following their purchase.
Here’s a hot tip: It’s never a good idea to request referrals from a client in the throes of buyer’s remorse. You might not receive the response you were hoping for!
Instead of worrying about referrals at this stage, focus on keeping your client 100 percent satisfied and happy with the transaction. Following up with a customer shows them you care about their well-being and you’re available if they need you. This solidifies your relationship, builds customer loyalty and gently reinforces the client’s purchasing decision.
This is also a great time to request feedback and offer useful content such as how-to videos and articles that will further enhance the client’s experience with your product. By being there for your clients when they need you most, you increase your chances of receiving referral business later on.
Once you’ve delivered your client to their happy place, you can turn your attention to the business of asking for referrals. But don’t jump the gun! First, take the time to decide exactly what it is you’re looking for.
Now that you’re in the sweet spot, it’s time to make your move. Stop dropping hints and cash in on the trust you’ve earned through hard work and dedication. Let them know how much you appreciate their business and how important they are to you. You’re happy to see them happy and you’d like to spread that same joy to their friends, family and business colleagues. Just remember to be direct, polite and humble.
Once your client agrees to help you out, it’s impolite to leave them hanging – and the longer you wait, the more likely they are to lose interest. Have a process in place to accommodate eager clients. Have business cards at the ready for face-to-face interactions. If you’re asking for an online testimonial or review, make the process easy. Send them interview questions or links to sites like Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Anything you can do to make the referral or review process simple and convenient will improve your chances of success.
So you’ve gotten what you want and it’s time to move on, right? Wrong! You’re in this for the long haul. You never know when and where a referral opportunity will occur, so it’s important that you nurture client relationships to maintain trust, encourage customer loyalty and earn ongoing referral business.
This is where content marketing is critical to the referral process. Instead of simply promoting yourself, focus on providing content that will be valuable to your clients. For example, a client who’s just purchased a home doesn’t want to be inundated with new listings and mortgage rates.
Instead, send something of interest, such as helpful home maintenance tips or information on DIY upgrades that will enhance their home’s value. This type of content not only shows you’re interested in maintaining a relationship, but it also paints you as an industry expert and trusted professional.
Building your reputation through great content is only half the battle. You also need to remain top of mind so that clients will remember your name months or years down the road and continue to recommend your services. This is where email marketing and social media come into play. The numbers speak for themselves:
By giving past clients multiple opportunities to engage with your brand and content in their inboxes and social feeds, you stay top of mind when referral opportunities arise.
Quality business referrals are born out of customer loyalty, which has to be earned over time. By maintaining contact with past clients and continuing to provide them with valuable content, you strengthen your relationship and build a solid, mutual sense of trust. This earns you the right to occasionally ask for a favor, and ensures your clients will be happy to oblige!
What kind of experiences have you had with referral business? If you have an interesting success story – or an educational story of hard-fought failure – share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! And be sure to sign up for our Sunday Edition.