5 bold strategies: Make fear work for success

Can fear undermine your success or nudge you out of your comfort zone? A leading author and coach shares her secrets on why being scared is good and how to make fear work for success.
Can fear undermine your success or nudge you out of your comfort zone? A leading author and coach shares her secrets on why being scared is good and how to make fear work for success.

If you’re scared, you’re on the right success track!

This may sound familiar- if you’re a woman in business, and you’re attempting to grow, you’re probably doing new things and thinking in ways you’ve never done before. And that’s exciting and it’s scary.

You may fear networking, or sales calls, or making presentations. You might be worried about how your growth will impact your finances, or your family. Finally, there are always classic go-to anxieties like fear of failure, rejection, and embarrassment. Yet the reality – if you’re growing, you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, which will likely put you on edge.

But I’m now going to let you in on a secret: EVERYBODY IS SCARED! I’ve worked with thousands of women, from all over the world, for 17 years now – women of different religions, cultures and ages – and one thing they all had in common was that fear was stopping them from progressing in their lives.

This is understandable. Fear has the power to destroy success. Indeed, people often dismiss their dreams and goals because of it.

But the problem we face is not the fear itself. It’s how we relate to and deal with the fear!

I’ve faced my fears too!

Like many people, I used to run from it. Yet this didn’t help me accomplish my goals, of course. It was only when I changed my relationship with fear – wherein I sought things and situations that scared me instead of avoiding them – that the worlds of opportunity and success opened up to me.

More than success, it is fear that fuels the work – and the drive –  to succeed.

That’s why, from jumping out of a plane, to releasing my meditation audio books (one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life), to launching a TV network, embracing fear has just become part of my journey in life. And every failure has provided me with a valuable lesson.

What personally prompted my radical change?

I’d become bored by my predictable life. I wanted more. I wanted to try new things, but I also knew that that would involve putting myself in unfamiliar and intimidating situations. So I had to “make friends” with fear and failure. I had to remind myself that failure’s worst case scenario wasn’t all that terrifying, really, and that making a fool of myself is usually temporary. I mean, think about it. How can you possibly become skilled at something, or achieve anything, if you don’t practice and fail?

So I’ve chosen to love fear – both my own and my clients’. This might sound twisted, but it’s an emotional response that reminds me that we are all human, and it usually occurs right before a breakthrough. I know something extraordinary is about to happen when fear rears its head.

But how do you get to a place where fear, instead of stopping you, propels you forward?

Acknowledge it, because it’s not going anywhere. And the more you try to “get rid of it,” the more it will grow and fester. When you acknowledge its presence, you can choose what to do with it.

Accept it, and give it a name, as if it were a person. When you do this, you begin the process of separating yourself from fear.

Become friends with it. Talk to it. Ask fear how it can play a role in whatever you’re trying to achieve, and keep talking until you’re clear on what the specific fear is, and why it’s there.

Choose to love it. Once you acknowledge that fear is along for the ride, you are free to love it or hate it. Why not choose to enjoy it, in the same way you still kind of love that annoying family member? Yes, they drive you crazy, but you love them nonetheless. Fear can work the same way. The moment you choose to enjoy it, you’re freed from its controlling grip, and you can learn how to live peacefully with each other.

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Make an Empowered Choice About It. OK, now that you’ve figured out why fear has appeared on the scene, contemplate your next move. Does it make sense NOT to proceed? Will you be able to let fear hang out with you while you move forward? In most cases, the latter will be the most beneficial choice. In some cases, you’ll need to chat it out with a coach or mentor. Make the decision that’s best for you.  

Also read Overwhelmed? Rediscover the joy in work

Bottom line, if you can learn to live with fear and make it work for your success, nothing can stop you!

Today, I’m asking that you choose a new context for living – one where you take action, despite your fears! Right now, I want you to see fear as access to your success. This way, you can get to the business of being successful and happy.  

Final Thoughts from Amy:

Life can be both scary and magical. Almost every day, I’m afraid of something, because I’m always stepping outside of my comfort zone in some way. Yet at the end of the day, I often curl up and watch Grey’s Anatomy on my couch, munching on my favorite snack, because I also need comfort and peace. I take that moment to breathe and remember “why” I do what I do, and why I am willing to walk on the scary side of life.

To Your Success and Happiness,


Amy Applebaum is an entrepreneur, business coach, author, media personality, wife and mom of precocious 5 year old. She understands the struggles that come with running your own business, and has been there firsthand. You can read more about Amy and get in touch through her website.

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  1. NAti 6 years ago

    This is a very interesting and mindful article, both a source of inspiration and motivation!
    I am very lucky that I’m not a fearful person, I’m not at all reckless. But when I want to do something, I go and do it, I don’t have much stuff holding me back. However, when something really frightens me, I listen to my fear, because that’s also how our instinct tells us to be alert.

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      I am really glad you enjoyed this NAti:) You seem to have a well-developed relationship with your fear which is why you don’t experience much fear:) You are practiced at listening. And I am glad you’re not reckless! The most important thing is that you are happy and living your life as you want to be. If you are not, and need to step outside of your comfort zone – you may find you’re having more conversations with fear – LOL. Should you ever need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks again for your comments:) – amy

  2. Chastity 6 years ago

    Yes I agree we all have to face it and accept it. That’s the only way we move forward. It’s very challenging to do but so empowering once we do it!!

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      Right? It is really empowering Chastity – you just feel free to live boldly because you know you have a way to deal with the fear when it comes up:) – amy

  3. Tiffany Yong 6 years ago

    Many people acknowledge the fact they are there but they do not want to make it work. They rather acknowledge the existence and then use it as an excuse for the non-success. It frustrates me sometimes to try to convince them otherwise~

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      I completely understand. You wish for their success, you know it’s possible and you want them to have what it is they want and it’s frustrating because you see it for them but they don’t see it for themselves. You are kind and dedicated and giving. What helps me when I’m feeling frustrated is to remember that it’s not my life – not my choice. When they are ready, they will ask for help. You are a good friend/mentor:) – amy

  4. Esme Sy 6 years ago

    Wise words from Amy. Reading all about it seems easier said than done but then I realized the meaning behind such statements as “you’re free to either love or hate fear”. It was always just a one-sided thing for me but now I get it, I feel better reading that!

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      Esme Sy… AWESOME!! YES! If you start to engage in the conversation – you might find that you make bolder choices. Love it…. thanks for being part of the conversation:) – amy

  5. Elizabeth O 6 years ago

    This was a really informative and helpful post. It is great to put strategies in place to help you succeed with work.

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      Thanks Elizabeth! Too often we don’t don’t know what steps to take to get where we need to so I’m glad this helps. If you have any questions on utilizing the strategy – feel free to reach out:) – amy

  6. Alaina Monster 6 years ago

    I am also not really a fan of stepping outside of my comfort box. But you are so right that fear can be used as a tool for success. I really love your tip on embracing your fear.

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      I sooooooooooo get it! Alaina… most people are not fans of stepping outside of their comfort zone because of the fears. Once you shift your attitude and relationship around fear, making bolder choices becomes easier. Start small. Think about something you are mildly afraid of – and just begin having a conversation about why and follow the steps I laid out. Then… assuming you build up confidence and courage – you can tackle some of the scarier stuff. Ultimately, over time, the scary stuff becomes less and less scary as you can see from @NAti above. You can do this!! – amy

  7. Ithfifi 6 years ago

    These are really good points and so helpful. Its always sad if you let fear hold you back from achieving what you want, I like your advice about using it to fuel success instead of holding you back!

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      Thanks so much Ithfifi:) Love your thoughts. Yes… we want people to enjoy the life they want and not be afraid to “go for it” for sure. The reality is that until one changes their outlook on fear, they won’t step outside of their comfort zone. So one step at a time. So the best 1st step is to begin talking with fear until one naturally finds that they’re ready to step outside of their comfort zone. Thanks for your comments! – amy

  8. Indu 6 years ago

    Immensely liked your post. Your tips are valuable not only for an entrepreneur but to everyone in general. We all may be in different walks of life but fear traps everyone in someway. And facing that fear with resolve has been the ladder to achieving goal. Same happened to me during my adventures and explorations. And how I accomplished my goal.

    • Author
      Amy Applebaum 6 years ago

      WOOT WOOT! That is amazing… do tell more! What happened, would love to hear – I believe we could all benefit from your story. – amy

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