“Can you still kill snakes?” I asked him.

My client is transitioning from a difficult, lucrative, and “secure” business into building another one. We assessed his skill sets, emotional fortitude, and possible trajectories for the path forward. We are both well-versed in the practice of identifying and mitigating risk, but the “F” word still comes up.

Fear. We prefer the relative comfort and ego maintenance of using more intellectual phrases like “weird thoughts,” “phantom concerns,” or “a slight bit of discomfort.”

I hate fear. It grabs me at the back of my throat and sometimes snatches my breath away. It is the only emotion that manages to whisper and shout at the same time. Fear is sneaky…it hits when we least expect it, and then it hides when we try to confront it.

My client told me that his mother often said, ‘Lee, you go after everything like you are killing snakes.” Hard-driving, laser-focused, over-analytical obsession and ferocious determination… snake-killing attributes are assets when we need to move the needle on a problem.

And so, after I noticed the F word leaking through the spaces of his email, I responded with one question.

 “Can you still kill snakes?”

You see, people usually don’t wander into success. They are not a “victim” of a happy circumstance. Good fortune may be involved, but snake killing is ultimately the skill that’s going to bring Lee the money, not one specific decision or role.

Recently, I’ve noticed that we fuel fear when we forget the sources of our success. We use a certain set of skills to get a job – then we put our security in the job and forget that we can use the same skill sets to get another one. We build a successful business – then we put our peace of mind in the market and forget the way we captured the market in the first place.

Fear tells us that our security is based on the situation. It is easy for us to put our confidence in that situation and forget the talent, effort, and skills that we used to get there in the first place. The personal and professional strengths that created our past opportunities are precisely what give us a controlling interest in long-term outcomes.

If you are doing anything of value and you have an iota of self-preservation, you will feel fear. Fear is not a fact; fear is not a prediction. It is simply the emotion we experience when we move from what appears to be a guaranteed outcome to the wide open space of uncertainty. Remember to focus on the path you’ve taken to get this far. If you forget that, you will put your faith in shaky situational variables instead of the steadier and more dependable attributes that lay inside of you.

Tips to Remind Yourself that You are a Badass Snake Killer

1.    Think back to one of the most challenging professional experiences you’ve had. Maybe it left you with some bruises. How did you get through it? Did you use your intellect, strategy, faith, a support system? Do you still have that toolbox available?

2.    What is the one talent or characteristic of your identity that has always carried you forward? How can you capitalize on that?

3.    What are past situations, personal or professional, that are similar to the challenges you face today? How did you get through them? What did you learn? What can you apply?

4.    Do you have the ability to learn? Can you do the research or talk to others to help you fill in the knowledge gaps that make you feel vulnerable?

5.    Bet on yourself. The situation will continue to change. When you are able to bet on yourself, you open yourself to more opportunities and are better able to endure challenges.

6.    If you were giving advice to someone else who is tired and has the F word crawling at her throat, what would you say to help her be courageous?

7.    Remember that fear is not a fact. It does not signal that something is actually wrong. In fact, maybe it is the indicator that you are doing something really right.