Walking Into Fear

Learning to take the next step towards success

Last week, I talked about the importance of turning fear into an asset . We grow as an individual by facing our fears head on.

This week, I want to briefly talk about how we can do this practically.

Take the next step

Years ago, I participated in an outdoors survival course that was all about handling fear. One of the exercises required me to climb to the top of a wooden pole, similar to a telephone pole, stand on top of it without using my hands, and then leap out and grab onto a trapeze hanging freely in the air.

I thought the scariest part would be the jump - not so. As I climbed the pole, grabbing and stepping up on each rung, I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad.” That was until I got to the top. There, the only place for my hands to go was on the top, flat surface of the pole that measured maybe twelve inches in diameter.

Terror struck. I had two hands on the top of the pole and my feet were on the two rungs below. The scariest step of the entire exercise was, with no hands, taking my foot off the top rung and stepping on top of the pole. I was paralyzed. After what seemed like an eternity glued in that one position, the instructor finally called up to me, “What’s happening?”

“I’m afraid to move!”

“This is not about getting rid of your fear,” He said. “It’s about learning to manage your fear when it comes up. Just take the next step.”

From there, finishing the exercise wasn’t easy, but I kept reminding myself to just take the next step. When I got to the bottom, my instructor walked over to me and said, “Did you get the lesson?”

We all have fears

In my experience, the difference between successful investors and average ones is the ability to overcome fear—to simply take that next step.

The reality is that we all have fears. When it comes to investing, we’re often stepping into the unknown. We may not have the experience. We certainly don’t have all the answers. No investor does. So the learning curve is steep. The probability of making mistakes is high and we’re playing with real money, which always adds a bit of drama.

Fear can come in many forms. It could be the fear of losing money or of making mistakes. One of the greatest fears for women is the fear of ending up as a bag lady on the streets, broke and homeless.

Whatever your fear, if it’s there, admit it. Own it.

What’s your next step?

One way to reduce the fear, of course, is through education and experience—the process of taking the next step.

The more you learn and know about a certain investment, the more confident you will be with your decisions. The more investments you own, the more self-assured and knowledgeable you will become. Fear will play a smaller role with every investment.

Today, you may be at a top-of-the-pole moment. You may be paralyzed with fear wondering if you can get on top of that pole and jump into the unknown. Now is the time for your next step. Will you move forward or will you retreat?

Today is the day for you to take your next step. Today is your day to turn your fear into an asset.

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