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How to Conquer Your Fears

Fear is the most powerful motivating force in human behavior

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Chad E. Foster on Discomfort

How to Conquer Your Fears

Did you know that fear is the most powerful motivating force in human behavior? Studies have shown that people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. And the Loss Aversion principle says that the psychological pain of losing something is twice as powerful as the joy of gaining. According to this principle, in order to risk losing $10, we’d need to potentially gain $20.

Is Stress Always a Bad Thing?

This is why it’s so important to push yourself outside your comfort zone. When you do something new or challenging, fear kicks in and makes you work harder. You’re more likely to achieve your vision of greatness if you’re constantly testing your limits.

We all experience three psychological states related to comfort zones: (1) the comfort zone, (2) the performance zone, and (3) the danger zone. The stress-free zone refers to the comfort zone where you feel the least stress and are most at ease with circumstances. The optimal performance zone surrounds your comfort zone, at the edges, and is where your performance improves with mild amounts of stress. The danger zone, outside the optimum performance zone, is where you feel extreme anxiety and your performance falls short.

A comfort zone is, well, comfortable. However, we don’t grow in a comfort zone, we coast. Comfort zones equal complacency.

Comfort zones and ruts are similar, in that they are both hard to get out of, once you get into them. It’s not that they’re bad, in and of themselves. It’s just that fear causes us to constrict. To pull back or shrink from challenges that can enable us to grow.

This doesn’t help us get the most out of ourselves, or our lives. Fear is a powerful emotion, but it doesn’t have to control us. We can use fear to our advantage, by using it as a motivation to push ourselves further.

Living Outside Your Comfort Zone

The reason I’ve thrived in the face of adversity in my life is due to this very thing. My life has been an experiment of living outside my comfort zone.

When I was learning the limitations of my poor eyesight at an early age, it was scary and uncomfortable. The physical discomfort of slamming into objects was undeniable. The emotional discomfort of being questioned at the hospital was unusual – I was at the hospital emergency room so often that hospital staff questioned me and my parents in separate rooms because they suspected I was being abused.

As my eyesight began to fade while attending high school and university, it became socially uncomfortable. Then, after going totally blind at university, I was confronted with the bleak reality that I’d never be able to see again – not the most psychologically comfortable experience.

While attending Leader Dogs for the Blind to train with my first guide dog, I had an experience that became the inflection point in my life. Although it was remarkably life-changing, I returned to university with the discomfort of switching majors from premedical to business, losing nearly three years of work, and embarking on the path of relearning how to learn. And while my new guide dog, Miles, was a great guide and ambassador of my situation, I faced the discomfort of walking into university classrooms with a 100-pound German shepherd.

Soon I was walking into job interviews with my trusty guide dog, and after landing a job in the Atlanta offices of a top consulting firm, I faced the task of leaving friends and family behind in Knoxville and moving to Atlanta where I’d need to figure things out on my own. Things I’d taken for granted when I could see, such as learning the bus and rail system without a smartphone navigation app, getting my groceries (there was no delivery service back then), having my clothes dry cleaned, and countless other small challenges that added up to a big, daunting undertaking.

In addition to these personal challenges, the professional hurdles of going to new cities, client sites, hotels, and airports – all without being able to see – were all uncomfortable. On top of those challenges, I had to learn a new highly technical consulting job.

So, when friends and family would ask if I was ready, I lied and told them that I was excited. The truth that I hid from them – and even from myself – is that I was terrified. What if I couldn’t do all those things without being able to see? There were so many challenges, so many fears.

I somehow managed to step through those fears and before long, was going into boardrooms with my guide dog, traveling alone to Europe and Asia, where I’d still get up at 5am for my morning workout. Sure, I didn’t know the layout of the hotel, couldn’t speak the language, and had zero certainty on how to find the gym, or the equipment in the gym that I wanted to use. But what I’ve noticed over the course of my life is that every time I moved slightly outside my comfort zone, my comfort zone slowly expanded. Now I’ve grown so comfortable with discomfort that I learned how to ski at 38-years-old and regularly take on expert-level black diamond terrain – and sometimes, even double black diamond terrain. I also recently started practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to keep pushing my limits. When you move ever-so-slightly outside your comfort zone, watch it expand and notice how you start learning how you’re capable of more than you thought possible.

So What Got Me Through It?

The concept that got me through it was the idea of fears and counter fears. Sure, I was scared of failing, but I was more scared of not reaching my full potential, or worse yet, living a life with regrets. So, when these very natural fears bubbled up to the surface, I did the same exercise that I do today.

The Future You Exercise

The question I like to ask when dealing with these types of dilemmas is: What decision can future Chad live with? When you’re old and gray - if you’re so fortunate - which fear can future you allow to influence your life path? Failing in pursuit of your life vision, or never knowing how wildly successful you could’ve been?

This is exactly why I’m a keynote speaker on comfort zone topics. I help people understand how our mindsets limit our potential. My presentations are full of anecdotes and strategies for stepping outside your comfort zone, and I’ll leave your team motivated to take action.

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What is a Great Keynote Speaker?

An uplifting keynote speaker doesn’t just inspire - they open hearts and minds to a new perspective, allowing them to color outside the lines and change their perspective. If you’re ready to shake up the status quo and inspire your audience to take action based on new learnings, look for a keynote speaker with powerful storytelling, entertaining delivery, and differentiated content. This ensures audience members hang on every word while being entertained and moved by an experience they’ll never forget. If this sounds like the kind of keynote speaker you’re interested in for your next event, read below to see how Chad E. Foster can help.

Chad E. Foster’s Keynote Programs

Impactful Storytelling. Powerful storytelling that creates unforgettable experiences while keeping your audience members engaged throughout the entire keynote program.

Entertaining Delivery. It’s as much about entertaining and engaging your audience as it is about educating them. What good is great content if noone is listening? Chad will elicit laughs, inspire with deep knowledge, and motivate attendees beyond the keynote program to take action.

Differentiated Content. Chad will demonstrate concepts, language, and methods that are simple and easy to apply. And, they can absolutely transform individuals to generate a quick positive culture shift within your company.

Accessible and Based on Experience and Science. Chad has spent years understanding the characteristics of human behavior that powered him forward in the face of overwhelming obstacles, which are simple and easy to apply – so anyone can start using them right away. Although the content aligns with the science of human behavior, It won’t feel like a science lesson because everything is explained in everyday terms and without the use of complicated technical jargon.

Chad’s keynote programs are motivating and informative, leaving his audiences wanting more. If you’re looking for an inspiring keynote speaker who can create a high-impact experience for your organization, contact Chad today.

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Blind Ambition book cover

Blind Ambition™

If you don’t feel like you’re reaching the levels of happiness that you see others enjoy, or your goals seem out of reach, you’re not alone. Life is too short for regrets. Learn how to use your mindset to reach your most daring dreams. Chad’s stories and lessons will inspire, empower, and prepare you to face uncertainty with hope and optimism. Want to be mentally tough, strong, resilient and prepared to adapt and thrive in changing circumstances? Self-confident to become your best you? It’s time to break free from the self-destructive thoughts that hold you back.

Ready To Turn Your Biggest Obstacle Into Your Biggest Advantage? The stories we tell ourselves either limit us or propel us towards our goals.