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Come to the edge, he said.
They said: "We are afraid".
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them... and they flew.

Christopher Logue

Life Coaching

Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Conquering Fear


I don't normally wax poetical, but this quotation resonates with me:

Come to the edge, he said.
They said: "We are afraid".
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them... and they flew.

- Christopher Logue

life coaching UK

- it captures three elemental things about the human condition:

1. How FEAR keeps us in small lives

2. How COMPULSION is an audacious way to overcome fear.

3. How our fears turn out to be unfounded

For me, this is very powerful stuff, and it sums up what I see most in my coaching practice.

What keeps many of us in small lives is fear. And what lies beyond those small lives is not what we're afraid of - but wonderful things - among them the realisation that we ourselves are wonderful. But the fence of fear is often real enough to keep us in the small lives and away from the wonderful ones for all of the years we live.

Have you ever heard about this acronym of FEAR?


I like it, and the next time you feel fear, I suggest you recite it to yourself.

The fears which keep us where we are do not generally reflect reality - they reflect the internal models of reality we hold in our heads. They don't really exist - so we are held captive by imaginary walls.

African lions, tigers and elephants are caught by men holding up large sheets of cloth. The animals see those sheets as impenetrable walls, and so feel they have nowhere to run except into the waiting cages. If those animals knew about the nature of the cotton walls, their actions and their outcomes would be entirely different! But they don't know - and their fear prevents them from finding out.

So - fear is a hugely powerful limiter on our actions and our lives. So - what's to be done?

Well, the second element I drew from the quote was compulsion, and it's an interesting one. This is not normally a tool we use on adults to help them out, but in the quote - fear was overcome by the removal of choice. He pushed them! He removed their choice to stand back in fear of falling, and he pushed them out of their comfort zone, and into the unknown. Once there, they discovered that their fears were unfounded - and that they had wings. But their own resources would not have allowed them to make that discovery alone - because they were ruled by fear. An external resource was necessary to make the jump - literally.

Of course, we do use compulsion - or something very close - on adults in their lives to make them accomplish big things.

Think of your job. Do you have any real choice about showing up each morning? Can you leave when you like? If the phone rings - can you safely ignore it? When your boss gives you a new task to do - do you have the option to decline it? Conventional employment amounts to a large and sturdy framework in which you - the employee - are compelled to behave in numerous ways in order to accomplish what they pay you for.

This is why you accomplish so much at work - you can't do otherwise and expect to keep your job. Of course, you may enjoy it - in parts at least - but it is the removal of choice which keeps you focused on the task in hand for eight hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year - and for 30 years or more. Now that's an impressive investment!

Compare that to your efforts at building a better life for yourself. You have limited time, many other pressures and there is no compulsion. We have choices - and we tend to choose not to do a whole raft of things which would turn our lives around. This doesn't make us evil, of course - it makes us busy human beings in a modern world.

Coaching brings an external resource to your aid. It offers a framework which helps us to maintain focus and positive energy - to make better life choices. That's why coaching works so well.

But you can achieve some of the benefits by applying coaching principles for yourself. Here's my 4-step system for you to use:

1. Magic Wand
Set aside fear and doubts and pick up your magic wand. Decide what's going to happen when you waive it - what do you want? Ignore "reality" and suspend disbelief. Stop being "realistic"! Realise that your magic wand will make all fears unfounded - ask yourself what you would have if you knew you could not fail, and that no harm would come to you - with complete certainty. Take time over this.

By de-coupling fear and limiting beliefs in this way, you can connect with what you really want - not just with what you suppose you might be able to have - "things being what they are". Now you have your dream. Actually, there's lots of work you can do to make sure you have the right one, but this is good enough for now in the space available. Write it down, and do not permit yourself to downgrade it! Consider it a tablet of stone.

2. "Reality Check"
Now you have your immutable dream, re-connect your fears and "what you know about the world". List the fears you have in complete detail and with complete honesty. Include the things that you would never dream of admitting to anyone else. Write them out in full - don't just jot a couple of words. For example, don't write "fear of public speaking" write "I cannot speak in public because I fear that I will make a dreadfully embarrassing mistake and that people will openly laugh in my face, and I will become hysterical and cry, then leave the stage in tears". Go on - go nuts!

3. F.E.A.R. Assessment
Now look at your list of fears, but from an external perspective - pretend someone else wrote them, and they've asked you - as a wise friend - for your feedback. For each fear, assess it's rationality. In many cases, you'll find yourself smiling at how unrealistic the fears are. Others will still seem real enough. Give each fear a score from 1 to 10 - where 1 means this fear has evaporated and 10 means it's still very frightening. This exercise will give you a much more rational assessment of your living space, and of your potential for change.

4.Start Walking
Here's a hard part, and it's one where your coach is invaluable. You have to act in ways which your fears will not like. You have to do stuff you just don't do. This is where choice is your enemy and compulsion would be your friend.

Weekly coaching sessions are - among other things - a mild form of pressure or compulsion, but you can emulate this by fixing a meeting with yourself once a week. Put a date and time in your diary and don't over-book it. Get yourself a quiet venue. In your meeting, evaluate your new dream and look at what you did last week, and what you're going to do next week to make it happen. Feel the fears, and recognise their power. Then recognise that fears are False Expectations Appearing Real - crush them and do what needs doing anyway. This will feel wrong. You'll resist is strongly, but give it all you've got. Coaches have a raft of tools to help here, and an impartial external perspective.

But you can meet up with a friend who is also trying to make something wonderful happen, and you can buddy each other. If you can find a group of 3 or more - that's OK too. (my coaching circles are a great way to do this, by the way - and see the tele-seminars item on the left).

Remember that permanently changing your life is a significant project, requiring a degree of discomfort, lots of action, some failure and huge determination over time. All of these are reasons why we fail so often - and reasons why people with coaches do so much better. But with this 4-step system and especially with your own support group around you, you can make it happen.

Good luck!


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