Book Review: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

“In a nutshell: The presence of fear is an indicator that you are growing and accepting life’s challenges... Many of us think we are taking responsibility for our lives when we are not. The ‘victim’ mentality is subtle and takes many forms”, so says international bestselling author, Susan Jeffers.

John asked me to proof his blog post Would you like a sandwich with that feedback? and made reference to the phrase ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. It prompted me to dust off my copy of the book by Susan Jeffers and to have another read of it. It still makes a lot of sense today – over 26 years after the book was first published.

Table of Contents

The book is an easy read, but provides plenty of ideas and one-liners to make you think. There are a dozen chapters exploring many of the psychological factors that influence how we feel and the choices we make.

Chapter 1: What are you afraid of… and why?
Chapter 2: Can't you make it go away?
Chapter 3: From pain to power
Chapter 4: Whether you want it or not… it's yours
Chapter 5: Pollyanna rides again
Chapter 6: When 'they' don't want you to grow
Chapter 7: How to make a no-lose decision
Chapter 8: How whole is your whole life?
Chapter 9: Just nod your head - say yes!
Chapter 10: Choosing love and trust
Chapter 11: Filling the inner void
Chapter 12: There is plenty of time?

Feel the Fear and Dream BIG!

Two of the premises on which she based her book are that we can all embrace and benefit from self-help and that it is our ideas that expand our idea of what is possible. She argues that they make us believe in our dreams and enable each of us to think big. They lead us to conclude, “I’m going to do this!”; “I’m going to be that!” and “I can be more than I am now!” Motivated by the opening chapter, I read the book cover to cover, I was re-energised by her words and had a sound night’s sleep.

Why, then, was it that I woke up the next day, I felt the weight of reality on my shoulders, and my dreams seemed more fiction than biography. In two minutes flat, I was falling into the trap of rationalising the life I have now; the fear that had briefly left me was back.

Why is it that between vision, dreams and intentions that we all have the experience and reality of the day stops most us dead in our tracks? Jeffers argues that it just seems easier to go back to the security and routine that we know rather than to venture into pastures new.

Jeffers says people see fear in the wrong way. Rather than being an indicator that you are reaching your limits, it should be seen as a green light to keep going. She also argues that if you are not feeling any fear, you are probably not growing, hence the title of her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

Does Fear Stop You?

The key that stops many of us from achieving and being more than we are is fear! Jeffers argues that whilst there are different types of fear, there is one killer fear: the belief that you will not be able to handle something, such as achieving a certain income, giving people feedback or accomplishing one of your biggest dreams.

She suggests that we all need to work towards a point where we know we can and believe that we can handle anything. For most of us it is the fear of failure, of not being good enough, or of being judged that stops us.

Jeffers’ point is that fear is not a psychological problem, but an educational one. She argues we need to re-educate ourselves to accept fear as a necessary part of growth, and then, and only then can we move on.

In other words, those who never take any risks ironically live with a dread of something going wrong. They seek security above all else but the effect is chronic insecurity. It is easier (and infinitely more life fulfilling) to try new things. The decision to incorporate more challenge into life whether at work or at home brings a feeling of security because you know that you can tackle anything.

Yes, this is a book that has been around for a long time, but it is one I would recommend you read or re-read.

So the next time you are dreading giving someone some feedback, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’

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About the Author

Anne-Marie, Assessment and Moderation Manager at Exponential Training, has 10 years experience of supporting Managers, Coaches and Consultants. A qualified assessor, trainer and performance coach, Anne-Marie works with students and organisations both in the UK and overseas. You can contact Anne-Marie or connect through LinkedIn.

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