Thoughts on Fear

By: John Steuernol

“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1933 32nd president of US (1882 - 1945)

Thoughts on FearFinancial advisors of all stripes ultimately desire to lead their clients to the land of financial security, and to do that they need to demonstrate that ‘quiet confidence’ which comes in part from first knowing who they are, how they deliver value, what makes them unique and then not allowing unreasoned fear to distract them from their quest.

Unfortunately fear, with it’s many faces can run wild interference and become overwhelming, more often than most of us would care to admit. The mind, with it’s unlimited ability to fathom up fears can take the most benign issue, enlarge it, dramatize it, create attachments that never existed, and before you know it take a ‘somewhat’ disturbing event and blow it into an event of epic proportions that absolutely paralyzes us.

Almost daily, and certainly weekly we encounter less than desirable news. Unfortunately, the media seems to prefer the bad to the good and I suppose that perhaps it helps sell advertising dollars, but it doesn’t really help. If you combine media emphasis, with the natural tendency of the human mind to give fifty times more weight to things of a negative or threatening nature over things of a positive or helpful one, you can see how easy it is to get caught up in attitudes that are less than helpful.

Companies and even nations fall on difficult times and a period of adjustment is often necessary before profitability returns. Being appropriately diversified and avoiding the tendency to get greedy are simple remedies to the universal problems associated with those twin demons of fear and greed.

Dr. David Hawkins, author of many books including “Power vs. Force” tells us that we are only subject to what we hold in our minds, and so if you decide to ‘dwell’ on the negativity prevalent in the media, you will find yourself even more consumed by your negative thoughts, and giving even greater power to those unwanted emotions.

In the past year while training newer advisors I have often stated that if failure is an option, then you have too many options. New advisors as well as older ones cannot afford the luxury of thinking about what they would do if they were not in this industry, as that sets in motion a thought process that may ultimately gain steam and eventually see them leave the industry. While coaching advisors of all stripes I often encountered excess feelings of frustration, disappointment, and emotional upset, that if left unattended to becomes a force unto itself and the seed to an ended career.

We attract to ourselves whatever dominates the mind, whatever becomes the currency of our thinking patterns. At times there can be a conflict between what is held in the conscious vs. unconscious mind. Consciously you may wish to focus on all the wonderful things that will happen as you learn how to run a fun and dynamic investment advisory business. On the other hand you may have either picked up or implanted on your own, contrarian thought patterns that focuses on all the what if’s, of failure, weakness, limitation or lack of success.

What if clients don’t like me; or, what if they fire me; or, what if I don’t get enough clients; or, what if they are smarter than I am; or, what if the equity markets never recover? You can create an endless stream of what if scenarios, which really are all quite meaningless, but nonetheless tremendously powerful when they dominate the unconscious mind.

Whenever there is a conflict in the mind, the one dominating the unconscious realm will undoubtedly always win! Its processing power is 20 million times more powerful than that of the conscious mind. It’s not even a fair fight.

So what do we do? Do we merely allow ourselves to succumb to our fears and perceived limitations, or do we decide to do something about it. There are many simple things you can do.

  1. Awareness: Once you recognize the rogue programming and call it out for what it is you can begin to change the direction of the tide. Say to yourself “these thinking patterns are not helpful; "stop it!”
  2. Breaking the Mold: Recognition on it’s own is insufficient. You need to create an interference pattern related to the old mold so you can open the mind to alternative and hopefully a more benevolent and beneficial thinking pattern.
  3. Interference Alternatives:
    • Stand up (assuming you were sitting down) and breathe from your center mass. That is a point 1 inch down and 2 inches in from your belly button. Usually with 3-4 breaths you will have achieved the change you are looking for.
    • Walk away from your current location and keep walking until you notice a shift in your thinking. Often times our thinking patterns are oriented to a particular time and place. They have in fact become anchored in our physiology and so changing our physical location and even moving is often all that is required.
    • Remind yourself that you are only subject to what you hold in your mind and so perhaps you can hold a different thought pattern.
    • Pretend you can be a different person, one that is not captured by his or her fears or imagined limitations and start to imagine what it could be like if you acted and thought differently. There is a funny thing that happens when you pretend something long enough, you end up not pretending anymore and actually become this newer more dynamic capable individual.
  4. Replace the fearful limiting thoughts with ones that will be more helpful. Once you recognize that you are only subject to what you hold in the mind you can give the mind fresh material. Remind yourself that every downturn in the market has eventually ended and that better times will return. Remind yourself that entrepreneurs want to find ways to make money. Increased profits always eventually lead to an increase in stock prices. Remind yourself that you have been well trained and that clients really need your help.

    A fundamental faith in the future is absolutely required for success in this business. If you cannot muster this, you are definitely in the wrong business.

  5. Persist in your quest to ultimately prevail. Success is often just around the corner, and if you could just peak around the corner you would see that it is there.

Overcoming the disabling emotion of fear and its many cousins is an absolute necessity if you wish to prevail in this most exciting business of offering financial advice. Laziness in terms of recognizing the rogue thoughts patterns and then doing something about it can be perilous.

The presence of fears is natural but need not become paralyzing. Recognize the fiction for what it is and begin to use some of the simple techniques listed above and watch yourself create a new you on the way to a newer higher level of success and accomplishment!

John Steuernol
Your ‘At The Moment Coach’
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