How Productive People Turn Anxiety And Fear Into An Advantage

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Photo: flickr/nznavy

One of the biggest killers of productivity and success is fear. Fear of putting themselves out there, fear of how they’ll be perceived by others, or something as simple as a fear of public speaking can paralyze people, wasting hours and days that could have been used more effectively. Fear can actually affect a whole organisation, according to former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley. People, even executives, fear making choices, especially big strategic ones, because it makes them accountable for the consequences. Choices are always a risk, so they get passed along or don’t get made.

That’s not something anyone can entirely get rid of, but there are ways to overcome it, get back to work, and even make anxiety work for you. Most successful people don’t lack fear. They just manage to find a way to act and persevere in spite of it. We’ve gathered a number of tips from Psychology Today and the latest research on how to do it.   

View it as inevitable

Some things will fundamentally give you a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. Whether it’s presenting in front of a group, meeting with a particular manager, or making a decision that affects many people, some things will always produce anxiety.

But it doesn’t have to be something that slows down. The more it’s viewed as something inevitable, part of the routine, the less power it has. 

Find the anxiety sweet spot

Becoming overanxious can be debilitating, but research finds that most people have a “sweet-spot,” a place where there’s enough anxiety to make you alert and motivated, but not so nervous that you’re debilitated.

So recognise the benefits of anxiety, and use it as motivation to get prepared and push yourself to perform well. Channeling it in that direction instead of into a loop of self-doubt leads to a better result.

Get angry

Anger is usually a negative emotion. But it can be valuable as an alternative to fear. Angry people are more likely to feel optimistic and take action, and a burst of a stronger emotion can get someone past their fear long enough to make a decision. 

“Decatastrophize” it 

What’s the worst possible outcome? And how likely is it to happen? Most times, even a negative outcome won’t be as catastrophic as we make it out to be in our heads. recognising that anxiety comes from how we think about things, and firmly connecting consequences to reality is a powerful tool to reduce fear. Very few things are the end of the world, and most of the time, it’s possible to enlist other people to help make the worst very unlikely.

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