Overpowering Fear

Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life!

Book Summary

"Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do." – Gian Carlo Menotti

  • According to Google, 9,140,000 people worldwide search the word Fear each and every month. In a year, that’s almost 110 million individuals, just like you, who are seeking answers as to why their life is restrained by fear.
  • 16,600,000 people Google the word Joy each and every month while an additional 5,000,000 search for the meaning of Happiness. That’s over 259 million people a year seeking the Joy and Happiness that is missing from their lives.
  • Monthly, 7,480,000 seek the definition of What is Success? Before you can even begin the journey you have to know where you are and where you would like to go.
  • And many others are seeking the answer to overpowering Shame. Google says 2,740,000 people a month want to free themselves from this debilitating state.
  • If you’re a professional, small business owner or salesperson you might fear Networking. If you do you have a lot of company. 124,000,000 seek help every month.

“Everything you have ever really wanted in your life has always been on the other side of fear.” When I first heard that statement I owned a Sandler Training® franchise in Silicon Valley, CA training salespeople. I don’t remember who said it but it had a profound effect on me. I gave those words a lot of thought and reflected back over my own life to my earliest years. I realized how absolutely true that statement was. How many times when I seriously wanted something, from a date with the most attractive girl in my math class to an appointment with a CEO of a company I wanted to do business with, as I moved towards my goal --- fear blocked my path. And all too often I failed to overpower my fears, and fear won.

Each time fear won, I lost. Sometimes it wasn’t a huge loss, just missing out on the fun and ego boost of dating one of the most attractive girls in school. But that was nothing compared to what I lost out on when I succumbed to fear and never called that CEO. I lost the commissions I would have earned from selling to his company. But even more important I lost out on what those commissions would have provided me and my family. A new car for my wife. A larger home in a better neighborhood with better schools. Braces for my children. More money added to their college fund. And the referrals I would have gotten for even more business.

That’s a lot to lose. Maybe you have lost out on some great rewards that you would have enjoyed, if you hadn’t let fear overpower you, too.

Fear – What is it?

Where does it come from?

What effect does it have on us?

Fear is as old as mankind. In fact, it’s a physiological response that helped our species survive. It is a hormonal reaction generated in the brain when any one of our five senses suspects danger. An incredible gift when we were cave dwelling people facing a hostile environment.

But, not much of a gift when our fears are about picking up the phone to call someone or walking up to the front of an auditorium to give a speech. These fears are of the mind and engender the exact same physical response in us that being attacked by members of a hostile neighboring tribe might. That doesn’t make much sense but it’s true. Most fear is not real and most of the things we fear never happen.

Let me give you an example from my book Overpowering Fear. Betty is a highly effective and intelligent executive who had the opportunity to make a speech at a charity event, a cause she loved that had a lot of personal meaning for her. At first she was extremely grateful for being chosen. She wrote her speech and counted the days until she would be able to get to the podium and see her friends, family and fellow volunteers. But as the day of the event got closer, her feelings changed. She became filled with dread and increasingly strong feelings of fear that were frankly irrational. Her thoughts ran wild. What if I make a mistake? What if I mispronounce a word or someone’s name? What if my mind goes blank? What if I lose my place? For at least three weeks prior to the charity event this was all she thought about. Were these happy and joyful times for her? Unfortunately not. Everything suffered. Her work. Her relationships. And even her sleep. And for what? She was gracious and entertaining when she gave her speech. Yes, she was a bit nervous at the beginning. She felt faint walking up the stairs to the stage. But she made a great impression and the audience was moved by her words. Everything was so positive, except for what she put herself through during the weeks leading up to her speech.

Better than 90% of the things we fear never happen. And yet, like Betty, many of us are flooded by those awful negative thoughts that generate the physical maladies of fear; the hormonal rush, rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms that most of us experience. This is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

Most fear is not real, and yet it affects each and every one of us daily and costs our nation 100’s of billions of dollars each year in lost opportunities and diminished productivity.

How often do employees feel fear and intimidation when they talk with their bosses – or even fellow workers? It’s the fear that their ideas and suggestions will be shot down, often in front of others, and cause them embarrassment and even humiliation. Consequently, they are reluctant to offer their thoughts and ideas to their superiors, colleagues and co-workers.

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to an inspiring talk given by Captain Mark Kelly, Commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission and husband of Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Mark talked about a crucial meeting he had with Gabby’s doctors that would determine how they would perform a particularly delicate surgery to remove bone fragments of her eye sockets caused by her would-be assassin’s bullet.

In the room were a large number of surgeons from the department head down to three surgical residents. Normally each surgeon would offer their opinion on how best to perform the operation. Typically it begins with the most senior surgeon going first and wending its way down to the residents. Having been a naval aviator for many years Mark understood bureaucracy and that by the time the residents got to speak they would be fearful of voicing an opinion in opposition to their more senior colleagues. And so, he started by asking the residents first how they would proceed. In this way fear would not stand in their way of giving an honest and totally objective assessment. Are your employees afraid to open up and share their unique knowledge and opinions with their colleagues and superiors? If you believe this to be true, how much is it costing your company?

In an awakening that transformed my own life decades ago, I have come to know that each of us is born to Greatness. I know by our very existence we deserve to be everything, do everything and have everything that we desire.

Unfortunately, very few people will come to realize their Greatness. The number one reason is fear clouding their minds. Fear of failure. Fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. Fear of rejection. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of embarrassment and humiliation. And a host of other fears.

Are you one of these people? When you are faced with a new challenge or a new experience does your inner voice shout out: “you won’t succeed?” Are you then convinced you’ll probably fail, so why even try? Do you dwell on the times you have tried and failed? Do you see “failure” as a label and not simply as a learning process?

If you believe a failure defines you: failure then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Ego – a powerful force that reinforces fear.

If you allow your ego to run your life, it will ensure you fail to reach your potential greatness.

In Overpowering Fear - Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life we talk a lot about the ego. Its solitary role in your life has always been to constantly compare you and your possessions to others and their possessions. When compared favorably you feel good about yourself, even superior. But when the comparison finds you lack what others have, you immediately feel bad about who you are. You may begin to feel sad, even depressed. And that typically leads to feelings of inadequacy and a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. When you lack confidence, you seldom take on the challenges and opportunities that lead to great things in life – and yes, that includes the opportunity to fail, to learn and to succeed.

Taken to the extreme your ego is responsible for the feelings of guilt and shame that you and many other individuals experience on a daily basis. When you learn to overpower fear, you eliminate your joy-killing ego and begin to feel a whole lot better about yourself.

How about living “someday?”

Have you recently heard someone use the word “someday?” As in “someday I’d like to live in Florida,” or “someday I’d like to start my own business.” What do you think you heard? Was it just idle conversation or was the person sharing their innermost dreams and desires? Believe it or not, it was their dreams and desires. A someday is a wish. A hope for something good to come into your life. “Somedays” make you feel that you are not wasting your life – that “someday” you’ll have the life you want. But often times, you don’t know how to achieve your dreams, you don’t dare plan how to achieve your goals or worse yet, you secretly believe that you don’t deserve them. Somedays bring you both comfort and fear.

Typically, “somedays” are predicated on some hazy, nebulous milestone you might reach at some undetermined time in your future life.

“Someday when I’m older I’ll start investing.”

“Someday when I have more years under-my-belt I’ll start my own company.”

“Someday when the kids are in grade school I’ll go back to work.”

“Someday when my life settles down I’ll take up painting.”

“Someday when my business gets off the ground I’ll spend more time with the kids.”

“Someday when I’ve got more time I’ll go on a cruise around the world.”

“Someday when I retire I’ll go back to my first love, teaching.”

My “someday” for a long time was to own a vacation home, which I could enjoy when I had time and later would be the perfect place to retire to. I even knew I wanted a home in Las Vegas, designed and constructed by the builder American West. But of course life frequently got in the way. I got divorced. Then lost one business only to start another one and be betrayed by a partner. Then my father died. And then and then and then.

So when it came to discussing my future, here’s what I sounded like. “Someday I plan on owning a home in Las Vegas, as soon as life settles down.”

But would it ever settle down or was I just fooling myself? Was I too afraid to take on my fears of really setting a goal and making it a reality? Because if I wrote down the goal and made a plan, would I actually accomplish it – or would I fail? Just thinking about success can be a very scary process.

And it was a scary process. Until I turned it into a SMART goal. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Was it easy? Not at the beginning. Did it happen overnight? Of course not. My goal took me approximately three years to complete. But I did it! I turned my “someday” into a beautiful two story 3,300 square foot home that I can enjoy with my wife, children and grandchildren anytime I want.

Are you hiding from your “somedays?” When are you going to reach into your “bag of somedays” and pull out the one that would truly make your heart sing? My dad had a lot of “somedays.” I wish before he died he could have achieved more of them. He deserved the joy that comes with accomplishing your greatest goals.

Today is yesterday’s someday – when you learn to overpower your fears!

Why I wrote Overpowering Fear: Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life

If by now you are wondering why I wrote this book, the answer is quite simple. I was a fearbased person who experienced this miserable, sometimes crippling emotion every single day of my life for as long as I could remember. Then in a miracle that occurred about 20 years ago, I began learning the process for overpowering my fears. It wasn’t a miracle like you might read in the Bible or a book on spiritual transformation. It was actually a very rational and deliberate choice.

I was going through some awfully difficult times in my life, both personal and professionally. I knew I was at a crossroads: spiral downwards or spiral upwards. So I made the decision to change my life by using my curiosity, which was stronger than my courage at the time. I joined a men’s group with nine other men – only one who I had previously met.

From our weekly meetings, I learned that no matter our religions, ethnic backgrounds or where we were raised, we were all the same. In fact for most of us you could have swapped out our mothers and we probably wouldn’t have known the difference. Through one of our facilitators, a psychiatrist by the name of Ernie Pesci, we learned about why we were the way we were, and what our relationship was to a higher power.

Through my men’s group and my personal work with Dr. Pesci I embarked on a mission to change my life and rid myself of the fear that prevented me from reaching the greatness I believed was waiting for me. It wasn’t always an easy journey. Changing your core beliefs never is. But through a determination I never believed I had, and through a lot of trial and error, I learned what I needed to do to live the life of my dreams. I also learned that I was not the only one out there who allowed fear to control their lives.

I knew I had a story to tell and the means to help others following me on this path. Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life along with the included ten life changing exercises, is my heartfelt contribution to all those seeking the joy, happiness and abundance that has always been waiting for them.

Oh, if you’re wondering why the word sales is in my book title, the answer is simple. I’m a salesperson and proud of it. To me sales is a noble profession that provides unlimited opportunity – if you choose to take on the challenges. And, it’s a skill that is at the heart of all business success. After all: if it’s a product or service you use, at some point a salesperson sold it. And that salesperson had to overpower all their fears, make the call to the prospect and close the sale so the product or service you wanted would be on the shelf or available on a website for you to purchase.

Even if you don’t live the particularly challenging life of a sales representative – I know I can help you overcome the fears that are holding you back from the life you deserve to enjoy.

Michael Luckman
December 2011

“Come to the edge,” he said.
They Said, “We are afraid.”
“Come to the edge,” he said.
They came.
He pushed them...
And they flew.

- Peter McWilliams

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