How to Overcome Fear and Find Success

By Alan Olsen

What is the greatest hindrance to those who want to be successful in business or even just in life? There are plenty of excuses that people can find when things don’t go right. The business world is full of failed endeavors and startup companies that couldn’t find the right formula to become a success. One of the biggest obstacles people face in any kind of new endeavor or initiative is fear. Overcoming fear can be extremely difficult. For some, getting over the initial fear of starting something prevents them from taking the first step. For others, the fear of failure can prevent them from taking the necessary risk to become successful. Whatever the case, fear has a way of stopping many would-be success stories in their tracks.

Everyone Feels Fear

So what can a person do in order to overcome fear? How does someone get past whatever it is that is holding him or her back? Finding the answers to these questions is important, otherwise fear will win and you’re dreams will die. In a recent interview with Y Combinator, Tesla founder Elon Musk discussed the topic of fear and what role it has played in his life, as well as how to overcome it. Elon has accomplished a lot of things in his lifetime and he is currently working on several other amazing and groundbreaking initiatives. His lists of success might lead many to believe that he is fearless, especially given the fact that some of the things he’s involved in might still seem impossible. So while many people likely believe that Elon has very little fear, given his track record, the fact is, he is not immune to fear.

Important Enough to Overcome Fear

In fact, when asked where he finds that strength to be fearless, Elon said that he actually feels fear just as much as anyone else. “It's not as though I just have the absence of fear. I feel it quite strongly. There are just times when something is important enough that you believe in it enough that you do it in spite of fear.” He even took it a step further saying that not feeling fear would be abnormal. “It's like, people shouldn't think, well, ‘I feel fear about this and therefore I shouldn't do it.’ It's normal to feel fear. Like, you'd have to have something mentally wrong with you if you don't feel fear.”

Accept the Possibility Of Failure

So what does Elon do to overcome the fears that he feels? How does he beat it and find the drive to keep going? Some might find his answer a little surprising. “Actually something that can be helpful is fatalism, to some degree. If you just accept the probabilities, then that diminishes fear.” He said that when he started SpaceX, he thought the odds of success were less than 10%, but he simply accepted the fact that he would more than likely just lose everything. However, he also thought that despite the risk there was a chance they could make some progress and move the ball forward and still do some good. “Same with Tesla. I thought the odds of a car company succeeding were extremely low.”

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