Choose to Not Be Afraid
Spiders, heights, failure, public speaking, heights, clowns. There’s an endless list of common fears in this world – and likely no shortage of uncommon ones as well. But one thing they all have in common is opportunity. So much of fear relies on its holder: Will they let that fear consume them or will they find a way to overcome it? Much of our role as coaches is teaching our athletes about overcoming fear.
If you let fear win, you’re inevitably losing out on experiences. And while a fear of clowns may cause you to miss a circus or two which is slight in the long run, you’re still cheating yourself of something by letting fear win. So don’t – choose to overcome it.
So much of what we fear exists in our own minds. It may have solid roots, but it’s our job to be the masters of our own lives and figure out what those roots are.
Think of something you’re afraid of.
Now think of why.
Is there an easy answer? Was it a rational one?
So many of the things we’re afraid of are easily fixable. For example, yes, spiders are gross – but aside from the extremely rare dangerous one, why are you afraid? Odds are that spider is harmless – and it may even keep more annoying pests out of your path. Afraid of public speaking? Why? What’s the worst that can happen? Odds are that no one is really going to boo you or laugh you off the stage… and if they did, how can you fix it?
After identifying the cause of the fear, turning it into an opportunity is the next step. How can you empower yourself if the worst happens? If you get laughed at while speaking, what can you do? Make a joke? Continue on? If you fall during your tumbling pass, yes, your score is going to get docked – but you can choose to get back up and power through, then work harder before the next meet.
Putting yourself in control is hugely powerful and often just a mental game. Knowing how to react and having a plan in the case you’re faced with the fear puts you – instead of your fear – in the driver’s seat.
Finally, test yourself. By avoiding something we fear, we just give that fear more power than it deserves. Instead, put yourself in it’s wake and face it head on. Odds are that the idea of the fear is worse than the actual fear itself. Face it often enough and you’ll desensitize yourself to it over time.
One of the best things about tumbling is it forces people to confront fear. The reality is there is nothing natural about jumping backwards, blindly, springing off your hands then bouncing to your feet. I often tell kids the first person to do this had to be just a little bit nuts. However, with proper training, development and coaching performing this skill is remarkably safe. From a development perspective gaining the courage to overcome those fears is invaluable. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to do what is needed in the face of fear.
Don’t let fear get the best of you. Instead, choose to not be give in to fear. Like so many things in life, making the decision is half the battle – once you’ve made up your mind, the rest of the path is easy to follow.