Shake Up Your Fears

On the other side of fear lies exhilaration!

"Sometimes the fear won't go away so you'll have to do it afraid." ~ Unknown

Recently, I was coaching in Japan when the room started rumbling and the computer monitors on my coachee’s desk rattled in unison. I looked over at my coachee, preparing to leap under his desk as I searched his face for a sign of how I should respond.

He sat stone-faced, with the unflappable demeanor you’d expect from a Navy Commander who has experienced several minor earthquakes in Japan. He assured me that -- although this one was a little longer and stronger than usual -- they occur somewhat regularly. I remained poised to jump...remembering a 6.8-magnitude quake on the opposite side of Japan that still managed to sway my hotel room just a week prior.

The quake ended a few seconds later, and my nervousness gave way to the excitement of having experienced such an incredible force of nature again (the only other time being in Virginia in 2011). I was even more excited when I thought I felt an aftershock, only to learn it was just my mind trying to “familiarize” itself with what I had just experienced.

When I later learned the 5.5-magnitude earthquake was far enough offshore to have caused no damage or loss of life (and no typhoons later), my excitement intensified into exhilaration, and I began texting my family so they could share in my zeal.

So when I saw the quote above a few days later, I had an epiphany: on the other side of fear and nervousness, there’s always excitement...even exhilaration. And once you’ve gotten to the other side, your inner voice will learn to familiarize itself with that sensation, so you'll be less afraid when the next challenge starts to "shake" you.

In my startup's project plan, I have a column named, “Scary?” where I track whether I’m doing at least one thing regularly that makes me nervous, pushes me out of my comfort zone, or forces me to put myself out there and be vulnerable. Each box marked with a definitive YES is a chance to experience the excitement and exhilaration of pushing past fear.

No more jumping under tables or sticking my head in the sand.

What are you avoiding or afraid of doing? Try to imagine the exhilaration that will come with completing the task. Take the leap knowing that exhilaration awaits on the other side, and that it will get easier and easier with each passing “quake.”


For more than 25 years, Marcelle has helped organizations increase retention, maximize their training dollars and create full leadership pipelines. As a consultant and certified leadership coach, she specializes in helping leaders think more creatively and strategically about talent development … moving beyond routine, ineffective approaches and breaking through obstacles standing in the way of nurturing their talent.


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