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Conquer Your Fears to Improve Personal Effectiveness“On an important decision one rarely has 100% of the information needed for a good decision no matter how much one spends or how long one waits. And, if one waits too long, he has a different problem and has to start all over. This is the terrible dilemma of the hesitant decision maker.” 

~Robert Greenleaf

In turbulent times like today we all respond to our changing situation with a certain amount of fear. Is this a bad thing? It certainly can be but it can also be helpful.

You Need Fear

By definition, courage is the ability to move ahead and take action, even in the presence of fear. So the good news is that fear is a necessary component of courage. The bad news? We still need to recognize our fears in order to use them effectively to improve our personal effectiveness and professional presence. Many of us mistakenly believe that allowing ourselves to feel fear makes us inferior to others.  The truly courageous person is the one who can feel their fear, fully acknowledge its presence and take positive action in spite of being afraid. Unchecked fear leads to irrational actions or potentially worse, no action at all.

Don’t Let Inaction Take Hold

We all can be galvanized by fear, and it results in inaction, which rarely serves us, our organization, team, or career. When we cannot deal with the fearful feelings raised by our thoughts, we subconsciously default to inaction. In a very short time, the gap can seem insurmountable as your mind, operating in a state of unacknowledged fear, manufactures every conceivable reason why you can’t face the fear. Your productivity and effectiveness in other areas are affected, and now one fear is mushrooming, taking over other parts of your career and life.

While you spend your time worrying, analyzing, pondering or discussing all the possible ramifications of each of the possibilities your mind has created, the opportunity for decisive action passes you by. While you have convinced yourself that you were taking positive steps by doing something You may have seen this scenario played out in your company, and if you think hard enough, you will find times when you have done it yourself. So the first step on the path to overcoming fear has been achieved. You recognize the pattern and now have it locked in your awareness so you can spot the behavior the next time you see or experience it.

The 79% Solution

So what do you do now? You are confronted with a situation and have recognized that you are afraid. You have acknowledged it. So how do you break fear’s paralyzing grip?  We instinctively fear what we do not know. Gather enough information to be 70% sure of your decision. That’s all it takes. Will you ever be wrong? Yes, of course. We all are wrong at some point. Instead of waiting until you are 99% sure about your decision, get to 70%, make the decision, and then get started with a plan for recovery or pivoting, if you are wrong. Then no matter what happens, you will be ready, and you will have taken action before the opportunity to make the decision fades into the horizon. In essence, make the decision more important than your fear. Force your fear into the background by getting busy with finding information, securing resources, and taking action.

“The Marine Corps battles the challenges associated with decision-making with the 70 percent solution. If you have 70 percent of the information, have done 70 percent of the analysis, and feel 70 percent confident, then move. The logic is simple: a less than ideal action, swiftly executed, stands a chance of success, whereas no action stands no chance. The worst decision is no decision at all.”

~Michael Useem, Author


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