philippe petit world trade center tight rope walk

Does Fear Get In Your Way?

philippe petit world trade center tight rope walkWhen something keeps popping up you know it’s a sign to consider the topic, do some research and write about it. That’s what happened to me recently around the subject of fear. It all started with a movie. My husband couldn’t wait to share the trailer of a newly released movie with me entitled “The Walk“. Wow! After seeing the trailer and despite my fear of heights, I was drawn to this movie. I had to know more. I had to see it. And what intrigued me the most is that “The Walk” is based on a true story. A man by the name of Philippe Petit, a French high wire artist, dreamed of walking on a wire between the roofs of the north and south towers of the World Trade Centre. Sound scary? Risky? Impossible? Yes! And despite all this, Philippe realized his dream on August 7, 1974!

Next, one of my teachers and mentors in the world of Online Business Management, Tina Forsyth of and addressed fear in her Fearless Women’s Mastermind Group invitation video. Here are a few of Tina’s direct quotes from the video. She defines being fearless as “knowing that fear is there”, “looking fear in the eye”, and says that “the things that scare you the most are usually the things you should do”. Tina goes on to say that being fearless is “letting fear have less power/control over you”, “being able to move forward in spite of fear” and “knowing that fear is always going to be there and yet on the other side it takes you to that next stage of growth; fulfilling your mission, income…” etc.

It was interesting to hear how Tina defined being fearless because I’ve always been conscious of the fact that fear has its place in keeping us safe in certain circumstances. This brings me to Monica Shah of Revenue Breakthrough who addresses the awareness of fear in our history as humans and how we can use that fear to propel us forward too. Here’s what Monica had to say in a recent newsletter: “…fear is totally normal in any situation that is out of our “comfort zone” or situations in which we don’t feel safe. At one point in our history as humans, that fear kept us from being eaten alive by a bear or tiger. As entrepreneurs, we often feel fear – because we are often out of our comfort zone – learning new things every day and doing things we just don’t have expertise in. And when you are doing something like following up with a client, it is easy for your body to associate that task with the worst possible outcome – rejection and embarrassment. The thing that I want you to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with you when you feel fear. And it doesn’t mean you “should” stop, either.” She goes on to say that fear could just mean you’re doing something new, not that there’s something wrong. And that instead of letting it stop you, let it get you into action.

I realized that I have taken on the “feel the fear and do it anyway” approach in the past. Being a shy and quiet person by nature, public speaking (next to a fear of heights) was a big fear. I’ve heard it ranks up there as a top fear for most people. But you know what? I had so many things that I felt were important to share that I decided not to let that fear stop me. I’ve got up to speak in front of groups in various settings. How do I do it? I have 3 tips for you. I’ll use delivering a presentation as an example but you can tweak these 3 steps and apply them to other life situations.

1. Be prepared. Read about how to deliver an engaging presentation and create your outline from there. Have a script and practice, practice, practice. Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of others. Can someone hand out worksheets or run your slide show?

2. Visualize a positive experience and outcome. Picture yourself delivering your presentation, having fun sharing your content with an engaged audience. They want you to do well. When you do, they benefit. Use positive self-talk and simplify the situation. For example, say to yourself “this is an hour of my life, I can do this; in an hour from now it will be all said and done; I’m going to do well and it’s going to feel great; if “X” can do it so can I” etc.

3. Just do it. You’re well prepared and you’ve practiced so take a deep breath, relax and smile. No one wants to watch a nervous speaker. You know what that feels like, right? Uncomfortable!

Back to Philippe, the fearless high-wire artist. He approached his feat in much the same manner:

1. He prepared for years to master his skill then proceeded to build his support team. Without them he could not have pulled off his twin towers walk.

2. With positive visualization, despite the naysayers, Philippe remained positive that he would complete his walk successfully.

3. Putting one foot in front of the other, to achieve his lifelong dream, Philippe put everything he learned and practiced into play and confidently stepped out onto the wire (without a safety net or harness!) with a plan to succeed.

I believe that we can accomplish anything that we want to do in life; we just have to take the steps to get there. After watching the story of Philippe Petite unfold in 3D on the big screen it confirmed to me that anything is possible. So I ask you, what’s your dream? Is fear stopping you? Or are you going to feel the fear and do it anyway?

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  • Beth Niebuhr

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    I’ve read about Philippe Petite too and he said it’s a learned skill to do that type of walking. Too much fear there for most of us. We certainly do need to step outside our comfort zones and do things that bring us fear, however, or we are unlikely to achieve success. One step at a time.

    • Jennifer Hazlett

      Reply Reply November 20, 2015

      Hi Beth, Thank you for commenting. Philippe is certainly in a league of his own. There are very few people every in the world who would attempt his feat! I’m looking forward to learning more. His books are on my Christmas list :)

  • Beverley Golden

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    Great post Jennifer, because it is a topic all human beings can relate to. Fear is inherent to who we are. What isn’t inherent is allowing our fear to stop us dead in our tracks, which is what I believe a lot of people do instead of facing the fear and pushing through it.

    One of the things I have learned is to ask myself, “What is the worst that can happen?”. Generally our imagined fear is much greater than what actually could happen. This reminded me of the Neale Donald Walsch quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” The only way we humans can stretch and grow is to dare to move beyond our fear and see what lies on the other side.

    Your mentor Tina Forsythe offered a wonderful way to look at fear and to empower yourself to look at it in your own life and then to move forward in spite of it. I look forward to seeing “The Walk”, although I am sure it is quite a thrill ride to watch. I have also been fascinated lately by how people are drawn to something that elicits fear in them and yet, are so compelled by it, they have to do it!

    • Jennifer Hazlett

      Reply Reply November 20, 2015

      Hi Beverley, Thanks for your comments and insights on how you handle fear. Yes, it can easily stop us in our tracks IF we let it. I love the Neale Donald Walsch quote. So true! Extreme sports have become really popular haven’t they? It kind of compares to the thrill of riding a roller coaster :)

  • Sabrina Quairoli

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    Great post! I think it is so important to do. I know many people who just think too much. It stops them from doing something and improving their lives. Fear kills any motivation. Whe I first do something new, I always have fear. But when I finish it, I feel more accomplished too.

    • Jennifer Hazlett

      Reply Reply November 20, 2015

      Hi Sabrina, Thank you for your comment. That’s so true, when we over think something we often don’t follow thru which is unfortunate because, like you said, it can be very rewarding when we do.

  • Roslyn Tanner Evans

    Reply Reply November 19, 2015

    Twenty years ago in a transformational workshop I learned that everyone has some fears, but the key is to take it with you. I grabbed that view and it made a huge difference professionally and personally. Enjoyed the reference to the movie and to other perspectives. The last thing I want is to let fear stop me from lving a full life. Thanks for addressing this topic in an interesting way.

    • Jennifer Hazlett

      Reply Reply November 20, 2015

      Thanks for your comments, Rosalyn. I like the perspective you shared to “take it with you”. Would love if you could expand on that.

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