“Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.”

– Phil McGraw

Fear is a nasty, paralyzing thing. While it has its uses and evolutionary advantages, it stops serving you the moment it causes you to stop moving forward. Fear is a thing to be considered, then worked through—the goal is to never be controlled by your fear, but to control it.

I know a capable agent who makes decent money in real estate but is too afraid to scale her business up because of the unknown. That fear of what she doesn’t yet know is hurting her business. With her, it’s about business, but this principle really applies to every corner of life: that which we fear but don’t overcome controls us. We can never overcome that which doesn’t actually happen to us—you need to act in order to overcome and control your fear.

Overcoming fear isn’t about putting on a brave face. It’s about having confidence in your ability to roll with the punches, pivot with change, and create opportunity out of failure. Controlling your fear really comes from the confidence that you can deal with whatever might come your way—so come what may. With that in mind, here are four steps to overcoming anything—from a bad business decision to a down market.

Step 1 – Inspect It

Once it comes to your attention that something is going—or has already gone—wrong, you need to identify the why behind it as quickly as possible. What isn’t working? What is? Is any part of the situation positive or salvageable? This is a time for introspection, but I recommend involving a third party you trust, as well. You’re bound to have some blind spots that you’ll miss if you only inspect the situation alone. Dig in. You need to truly understand the issue, not just affirm what you might already believe about it.

Step 2 – Study It Out

Someone somewhere has dealt with the same situation you find yourself in. Go out and find how they handled it—find four or five or a dozen ways it was handled and figure out which one best works for your situation. Become an expert on your problem. Make a plan. There’s an important caveat here: don’t spend too long on this step. Take the time it needs, but don’t get paralyzed by planning.

Step 3 – Baby Steps

Step 3 - Baby Steps

Step three is just applying what you learned in step 2, but just a taste of it. Baby steps are important because they save you time and costly errors. Full implementation comes later—for now, just dip your toe into a potential solution to see how it suits the reality of your situation.

Step 4 – Fully Embrace

Once you see the solution taking root, go full bore. You’ve seen the evidence that the solution works on a small scale or in part, so scale it up and embrace the positive change. The biggest thing to remember here is that there’s no place to go back to the way things were before this change—make it once, and make it fully.

These four steps are simple enough in theory, but they require a great deal of personal insight and emotional honesty. I recommend involving a member or partner through each step of the process to ensure you can see it all clearly. With a strategy for overcoming the unknown, you can dispel your fears and move forward. Don’t worry about making the wrong decision or about what you don’t know—worry about getting stuck or paralyzed by your fears.

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