I’ve written in the past about the nasty effects of fear — how it can lead to procrastinationcreative blocks, and unremarkable content.


It’s our sense of fear that derails success more often than actual failed attempts at success.

Looking deeper into the topic, however, I’ve discovered that often it’s not actual fear we’re dealing with. It’s something much more ridiculous.

It’s not fear that holds you back.

It’s F.E.A.R.

Fear is a good thing

Fear is an emotional response to an actual threat, and it’s a fundamental survival mechanism that’s served us well throughout human history. When you’re in immediate danger, fear tells you to get yourself to someplace safer.

Once our ancestors saw a few friends and relatives devoured by lions, fearing lions became a smart move. Nowadays we react in a similarly legitimate fashion when faced with an AR-15, a car veering toward us, or a new track from Justin Bieber.

Fear is also a true emotional response when we’re about to lose someone or something that’s important to us. So it’s not just about our personal safety — we can fear the loss of a loved one to illness, or our home to foreclosure due to unemployment.

Here’s the problem. The sensation people experience in the face of taking action to achieve their dreams – business, personal, spiritual, whatever — is usually not true fear.

It’s F.E.A.R.

What is F.E.A.R?

F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There’s no true threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all.

F.E.A.R. is an illusion. Something we fabricate in our own minds and pretend is real. It’s a fairy tale we tell ourselves that keeps us from doing what we really want.

False evidence appearing real.

The common label for F.E.A.R is anxiety, a less fundamental emotion that arises purely from our own thoughts, not external reality.

And 50 years of cognitive psychology research demonstrates that while we can’t always control how we feel, we do have the power to choose how we think and act.

How to conquer F.E.A.R.

“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.” – Seth Godin

Are past failures real evidence that justifies fear of future failure? Nope, because unless you keep doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results (one definition of insanity), you have no real evidence that your next approach will fail.

Past failures generate false evidence appearing real. To the contrary, it’s likely you learned things from your past failures that instead provide evidence that your odds are now better than ever.

The worst-case scenario, of course, involves those who’ve never failed, because they’ve never tried. These people have zero real evidence of anything, and are living in the purest imaginary prison of the mind.

Guess what? Healthy, well-adjusted people take reasonable risks, without all this deep dread over specific outcomes.

The journey is what you’ll relish, and it just might take you somewhere better than you initially hoped. No matter what, each journey teaches you what you need to know to take the next one.

So, the formula for conquering F.E.A.R. is simple:

Try + Learn + Adapt + Try = Success

Or who knows … it might just be:

Try = Success

One thing’s for certain, though … you won’t have any real evidence of anything until you do that try thing.