Success Strategies - June - 2019

Be Afraid… Be Very Afraid

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What scares you?

For most people it’s uncertainty that scares them the most.

In a doctor’s office when they say, “Brace yourself, this procedure might hurt a bit.” What do they mean? Is it going to be blood-curdling-scream pain or grit-your-teeth pain? The fearful part is not knowing which. You can handle most any pain briefly, but what if it gets worse or lasts longer? That’s where fear comes in.

I go trail running three days a week in the California coastal mountains. People who don’t know the trails or the outdoors often ask me, “Aren’t you afraid of snakes, or mountain lions?” The answer is no, not on the hikes. In over 10,000 miles of hikes I’ve rarely encountered serpents or cats. But if I was confronted by either of those, sure, I’d be scared. Not scared of the snake or lion but scared of not knowing whether they would harm me.

The same is true on the job. When you don’t have a system in place to generate new business then you are left to just hope and pray. Not a good business strategy. But if you know that by doing the right things month after month, the business will come, then you can rest a bit more easily. This also applies to your coworkers. If you talk with them regularly, truly take time to listen, and show them that you care, then personnel surprises will be few. You won’t have to wonder about losing key people or trusting those you work with.

Surprises are what scare us. Do you have a budget in place with specific amounts allowed for each line item: rent, utilities, equipment repair, building maintenance, new equipment purchases, marketing, supplies, etc.? If you do, then you can usually predict what your costs will be and when you’ll have to pay them. If you don’t, then overages and extra costs will be surprises. Most things come in patterns that can be predicted.

For example; since you know what kinds of costs you’ll incur each year, you can budget for them. You may not know when they will come nor exactly how much they will cost, but you know they’re coming, so you’re better prepared. And, you know that some things will come up that you never anticipated, so having a reserve fund is necessary for those.

This also applies to market trends, technological advances, new competition and unexpected opportunities. If a key competitor goes out of business or moves, then you have a window of opportunity to increase your marketing and to reach out to the orphaned customers and suppliers. Bargains can be made, savings achieved, and new customers won. But only if you have the resources to step up to capture the moment.

The better we plan, the better we do. General Eisenhower said, in World War II, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything!” What he meant was, the plans themselves are merely processes to help us prepare. Situations change and surprises come but if we were planning then we are in a better position to deal with them.

Another famous statement is: No plan survives the first contact with the enemy. Make that “with reality” and it will apply to you. Set your goals, make your plans and assemble your resources; then when you are surprised by the real situations as they unfold, you won’t be overwhelmed.

Create your own fear too.

When it comes to goal setting, we need to build fear into the equation. If your goals don’t scare you a bit, then you’re setting them too low. A goal that you already know how to reach, really isn’t a goal at all. It’s simply a “to do.” Goals should inspire and excite you.

Look at your expectations for the next 12 months. Do you expect more of the same? If so, then you don’t need to do much to prepare for it. But if you want more, then set your goals high enough to scare you a bit. Get outside your comfort zone, your rut. As Earl Nightingale once said, “A rut is just a grave with both ends knocked out.”

We are designed to be achievers and problem solvers. We need big goals to activate us. So do some dreaming and let your mind soar. Think about how your “ideal world” would be, if you knew how to create it. Then get to work creating it.

You and I can do so much more than we do! We need bigger goals and harder challenges to activate our creativity and excite us to get back into the game and go for the gold. If you haven’t been scared by your goals lately, be very afraid because your small goals will lead you to a smaller life. Dream it, plan it, begin it … and it will become real!

Jim Cathcart is a longtime friend of ATRA and contributor to GEARS. He travels the world teaching people How To Succeed. Read his articles and view his free videos on, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn. Contact Jim’s office for speaking engagements at Phone 1-805-777-3477.