Written & Contributed by Tim Mercer
Fear has been a common emotion throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But with vaccinations bringing hope of a return to normalcy, public confidence is making a comeback.
For many, however, fear was an obstacle well before the virus. And as new opportunities emerge in a changing economy, fear can prevent people from pursuing opportunities that could help them prosper, says Tim Mercer (www.timtmercer.com), ForbesBooks author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business.
“Fear, more than anything else, is what keeps most of us from succeeding,” Mercer says. “It stops us from going after opportunities we’re prepared for, and it keeps us from even preparing ourselves for opportunities. We can fear failure and success all at the same time, for a variety of different reasons.
“But if you know how to prevent fear from overpowering you, especially in these changing times, you’ll be prepared to seize new opportunities that can avail you as businesses continue to pivot.”
Mercer offers five points about understanding and overcoming fear in order to pursue opportunities such as starting a business, buying one, or making a bold career move:
Accept that a little fear is useful. “The proverbial thorns in your flesh – fear and anxiety – keep you humble,” Mercer says. “That fear and anxiety some experience will likely never go away completely. And if it does, it may not be such a good thing. Fear means that you still care. It keeps you sharp and engaged.”
Don’t run from the bully. Mercer says fear needs to be tackled head-on from the time it enters one’s mind. “Otherwise, it will become a debilitating problem that distracts from your work and ability to focus on solving problems,” he says. “Fear is like a bully in school. You can’t run from that bully forever, because he’s going to keep harassing you. It’s the same thing with fear. The harder you try to run away from it, the worse it gets. You have to attack it directly.”
Know what F.E.A.R. stands for. Mercer says there’s a great acronym for fear: false evidence appearing real. “The fear of the unknown really boils down to not knowing enough about the situation,” he says. “That’s why so many of us often find ourselves feeling anxious about our future, because it’s ultimately a complete unknown. When false evidence about what may happen appears real to us, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a viable solution to the dilemma. Fear stalls our progress by clouding our judgment and leading us off our path to greatness.”
Fight fear with knowledge. The most effective weapon against fear is knowledge, Mercer says. “Whether it be related to an individual or company, my finances, a business concept that’s foreign to me, legal issues, or something else, I try to do as much homework as I can until I feel more comfortable with the situation,” he says. “Knowledge is confidence, and while confidence may not be the complete absence of fear, it certainly helps you control it.”
Don’t be consumed by material success. “When you achieve great success, you obviously don’t want to lose what you have worked so hard to gain,” Mercer says. “And that desire to hold on to what you have built can become a crippling source of fear – a fear of loss – if you are not careful and begin to value the material things in your life too much.”
“You will sometimes have fears of one kind or another,” Mercer says, “but you will get better at managing fear on each occasion that you face it down.”
About Tim Mercer
Tim Mercer (www.timtmercer.com) is the founder of Intelibox, a company that provides technology services and solutions to government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations. He also is the ForbesBooks author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business. Mercer was inspired to pursue a career in IT as a consultant after he became a telecom operator while in the U.S. Army. After growing up in difficult economic circumstances in the rural South, Mercer achieved success as an entrepreneur, then recovered from the financial crisis of 2007-2008 after starting IBOXG. The company has accrued over $60 million in revenues since its inception in 2008.