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Identifying Your Fears

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The process of identifying what you fear is different for different people. Some have the innate ability to easily identify, “what I’m really afraid of is looking foolish in front of my family”. Some people may find the prospect of even admitting being afraid as unbearable. In either case try this exercise and see if you can gain an in-depth understanding of what you may fear. This will help you well beyond your business life.

Step 1

Outside of sleep, in descending order (most to least) list the top 5 activities you do with your time

1.________________________________________________________

2.________________________________________________________

3.________________________________________________________

4.________________________________________________________

5________________________________________________________

Step 2

Next, in descending order (most to least) list the top 5 activities you’d like to do with your time

1.________________________________________________________

2.________________________________________________________

3.________________________________________________________

4.________________________________________________________

5.________________________________________________________

Step 3

Compare your list. Take note of the differences in the two lists.

For each area where you’d like to spend time doesn’t match up with how you actually spend time complete the 5 why cause analysis. Here’s how:

  1. Write down the specific reason that you don’t spend time doing the activity you’d like to be doing.

    Writing this down is essential. Formally identifying the problem and describing it completely will help focus on the actual problem and not the symptoms.

  2. Ask Why the problem happens and write the answer down below the problem.
  3. If the answer you just provided doesn’t identify the root cause of the problem that you wrote down in Step 1, ask Why again and write that answer down.
  4. Repeat this process until you achieve an answer that you can act on.

In the end what you end up with will look something like this:

Step 1

Outside of sleep, in descending order (most to least) list the top 5 activities you do with your time

1. I spend most of my time at work.

Step 2

Next, in descending order (most to least) list the top 5 activities you’d like to do with your time

1. I’d like to spend time traveling with my wife and my son.

Step 3

For each area where you’d like to spend time doesn’t match up with how you actually spend time complete the 5 why cause analysis. Here’s how:

I don’t spend time traveling with my wife and son because I can’t afford the cost.

WHY?

I don’t make enough money.

WHY?

My job doesn’t pay enough for me to travel with my family.

WHY?

I don’t qualify for a higher paying job.

WHY?

I don’t have enough experience.

Step 4

Decide on an action that will solve the problem. In this example, the problem was that the guy hadn’t been at the job long enough to be promoted to a better paying position. This makes his solution pretty simple. Stay at the job longer; take the steps you need to in order to qualify for a promotion.

Step 5

Ask yourself if you already knew why you weren’t doing what you wanted to do with your time. If you did, it’s very likely that you’re afraid of some part of the action that it takes to implement the solution. In the example above, the worker must only continue working at the company and do a good enough job to qualify for his desired promotion.

But what if it he couldn’t make more money because he had dropped out of high school? This leads to more questions. Why did he drop out of high school? Was it the peer pressure of the friends he associated with? Was it that the work seemed too hard? Did he get someone pregnant and need to quit school to work? He’d have to consider going back to school to receive his General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.). After that, he’d likely have to enroll in college and seek a four year degree. Is he smart enough to complete high school (which he’s already failed at once)? Can he spare the time to go back to school with work, a wife and a child? If he goes back to school how will his current group friends view him? Will he seem like he’s looking down on them for not going back and bettering themselves? We really begin to get a sense of where this guy’s fear may be rooted.

This process is tough. It forces you beyond your surface rationalizations and into a deeper understanding of you. The good part is that once you’ve done it enough times it gets much easier. And the benefit of understanding what you fear and how to it will be tremendous motivator down the line.

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