How to Respond to Fear

discipline preparation winning tools Feb 14, 2024

It’s Valentine’s Day – the day of love, and, outside of my wife and children, of course –  I love nothing more than talking about the power of The Winning Tools. Let's hop back into the idea of discipline. Last week, we touched on fear and how it creates paralysis in our actions. This week, I want to talk about how we respond to fear and how discipline helps us do that. For example, how do we respond to the fear created by perfectionism? Well, we start by replacing the word perfect with excellent. Perfectionism slows us down, the pursuit of excellence can actually motivate us. We have to be disciplined enough to choose excellence over perfection and remind ourselves to accept that life is imperfect. How does perfectionism show up? Either through projection – getting so caught up in projecting into the future and worrying about all the bad outcomes and all the things that can go wrong. Or, we stall productivity because we linger too long on the grand results that our success will produce. And the bottom line is, in either case, we are either paralyzed by problems in the future or we're stalled because we're smelling the roses before they've bloomed. Embracing the principle of discipline allows us to replace projection with preparation. When we talked about projection, we talked about how it lacks action. It’s like the process of writing a book. If I’m stuck in projection, the first word of a book never gets written. Replacing projection with preparation gets us into action. But, as you already know, preparation takes discipline. As a coach, I had to make sure we had a game plan for every opponent we faced. That took discipline from our coaching staff each and every week. 

I want you to think about this. Look around, take inventory of all the perfect people, places, and things in your life. How many perfect people you come in contact with, how many perfect places you've visited. I'm talking about per-fect, flawless. There's nothing wrong with them – whatsoever. And when you're done with that list, it’s going to have the number zero on it, right? 

Now, think about this on the flip side, you and I can make a long list of excellent people, excellent places and excellent things. Excellence is defined as: the quality of being outstanding. Notice it doesn’t say perfect. But, I think you’d agree that there's excellence all around us. There's excellent people all around me. There's places we visit that are excellent, not perfect, but they're excellent and we want to go there again. 

So, we respond to the pressure of perfectionism with the pursuit of excellence. Discipline is the principle that will make it possible to choose excellence over perfection time and time again. Discipline is the key to consistently being highly prepared to do what it takes in the present moment to work towards your next goal. 

Something to think on this week: What is a fear or worry that you’re projecting into the future about? How can you get prepared this week to take action?