You've seen the "No Fear" clothing stickers on cars helping to coach those who want to overcome if not ignore fear. But to ignore it or to say it doesn't exist is only healthy if you are aware of it, its purpose and need, for understanding fear and how it's used in our lives is one of the most important success tools in existence. But why does fear exist?

Well, in some cases it protects us from harm. It is a warning to get out! We are afraid when we hear gunfire, feel the initial rumblings of an earthquake, or someone appears out of nowhere. Fear gets our heart rate up and enlivens our sensory awareness so that we can take action to protect ourselves and others. But at other times fear occurs because we are uncomfortable with the unknown. And fear of the unknown exists every day even though the majority prefers to ignore it. But most of these fears will not cause us immediate physical harm. These fears are more common or widespread.

What are some of these common fears?

We are fearful of losing our jobs. We are fearful of having to speak in front of a large group of strangers. We are fearful of confronting ourselves and others about hard truths that are not pleasant. We are fearful of doing something that most people are not doing. We are fearful that we are inadequate in our relationships, family, jobs, life. We fear not being loved. We fear that something will happen to our loved ones, spouse, children. We fear being alone. We fear being made fun of or loss of respect.

But fear in this regard is not dangerous or bad for us, for that matter. It serves a purpose. It is a tool that is to be used, but it needs to be used correctly. It is usually a warning that we are about to step into unfamiliar territory and that we need to be cautious.

For example, if during a conversation with your spouse you begin to argue, you begin to feel uncomfortable. You get anxious and are fearful that you may hurt or be hurt, so it is vital to be cautious and think carefully before you speak. However, often our emotions are heightened and we lose self-control and let our emotions take over, usually culminating in a negative result. But fear is telling us that this relationship is important, that we need to protect it, and that we need to find the skill and tact necessary to preserve it. Without fear or anxiety, we would most likely say whatever comes to mind and on top of that never feel sorry for what we said. The divorce rate would most likely shoot up to 100%, so here we can see the obvious benefit of the discomfort of fear.

But there are other fears.

Speaking in public is a different kind of fear. Here we are fearful of being exposed. We are fearful that we may say or do something stupid and that we'll be ridiculed and ostracized by not only the people we are speaking to but everyone else who will discover how stupid we are.

But is this true? Is it all that we think it is? Are our imagined fears so accurate?

Often times, no.

Personally, when I was young, I was fearful in the extreme. All types of evil immaginings ran through my head regarding what people were thinking of me. Never mind getting up in front of people, I was terrified merely being amongst small groups of people, not being expected to talk at all. I remember going outside my campus apartment and breaking out in an anxiety attack that almost took my breath away, literally.

So what did I do?

I overcame my extreme shyness, introversion, hopelessness, depression, anger suicidal tendencies and more to the point now where I speak in front of people with such ease I prefer it to sitting alone in my living room with my remote. But not that I need it. Not in the least. But when I am called on to speak, I find the greatest joy and satisfaction now in helping people to motivate themselves and to get on with a plan that will bring them the utter joy I now find, utter joy that couldn't have happened without extreme fear.

For this fear, fear of people, actually was the friction, the tension I needed in my life to propel me to take action. People generally get moving for one of three reasons: inspiration, desperation, or boredom. And I did a lot of work to get rid of my most inhibiting fears, mostly through getting out of myself and the getting into otheres. Now, getting rid of your fears is good, but you should always be doing something that scares you even just a little, for your growth and mental / spiritual betterment.

If you are not living with some discomfort and fear in your life, you are not advancing, growing, prospering, chipping away at your shortcomings to reveal the potential greatness that lies underneath, that which leads to discovery of even greater joy, satisfaction that only comes through push, stress, and strain. Comfort very rarely teaches lessons of great import or is able to lift the soul to amazing heights.

And this is the purpose of fear-lesser life threatening fear-that exists in our lives. It is simply and fully this fear that is required for us to brush up against--this friction--so that we may chip away the old, the unwanted, and feel the joy and reward of that progress, that overcoming that we must do the majority of by ourselves. There is no other way. It is a universal principle that must be understood and applied in everyone's life if the desire is to find ultimate happiness. There is no other way.

And once we've overcome the self to a point of greater personal mental health and well-being, then we can do the next thing we were put here to do. And it is only in overcoming the self that we are able to do this. This experience, these difficulties build strength, compassion, patience, and understanding, that which is needed by the people we now can reach out to in our more healthy state. And the stronger we become the greater number we can reach out to, to lift up.

We all are great, but ultimate greatness lies underneath our imperfection waiting to lift us up to see who we can really be, our true potential. A point to consider is that you don't have to be great to be great, but you do have to believe you are. And this is where all success and greatness begins and ends: in the mind. Most don't achieve, but those who do are the one's who overcome fear and have done the other things necessary to ignore the masses who are screaming, "Hey, stay down here with us."

And an important note is that we are not here to do all the lifting for others, but to encourage in others the desire, ability, skill, and attitude needed to overcome themselves. For it is in the doing, doing it ourselves, where we reap the greatest rewards, a universal principle.

But like anything of great value, great merit, and great worth, it takes time to build to the point where you have conquered and mastered fear.

Personally, after having done 100s if not 1000s of performances, talks, lectures, and speeches, I reached the point in recent years (some 17 years after the most frightening day of my life-my first publich performance) where I hit an epiphany. I am now at the point with all the experience I have, along with the great knowledge base I've worked to obtain, able to prepare a talk in mere minutes and go up and do it with great ease and professionalism. But it is only through great effort that I was able to do so.

We learn as all do, slowly, line upon line, precept upon precept. It takes time and patience. It was only through great self-coaching, self-convincing, and, most importantly, by doing, that I was able to master the art of speaking. Today, I do it without paper, outline or prompt. Which all gets in the way of being natural, a major requirement to speaking.

To give you a clue as to the specifics of how I overcame my fear of speaking, one time when I was doing comedy in Boston at an all black club, I was about as fearful as anyone could be. The first to go on at the club were the black comics. The performances were being filmed, and after each comic finished he was interviewed off to the side of the stage.

However, when the first white comic got up, the camera and its accompanying lights were shut off, the interviewer went to the bar for a drink, and the majority of the crowd began conversations, and not with the comic.

I was the second one up.

Want to face your fear of being ridiculed in front of a large crowd? Well, here was my opportunity.

What did I do? I looked out into the audience and said to myself, these are people, they are my people. I feel their love. I am loved. And a great sense of calm came over me, enough so that I did the show and was fairly successful. I didn't kill, but I didn't die or get ridiculed either.

I then went on to perform in a gay bar with straight humor and at a biker bar with my goofy, white-boy humor while bikers played pool on the side of the stage, even.

Was I scared? Certainly. Did I thrive? Well, I don't remember how I did at the gay bar, but I killed at the biker bar. My material was clean and non-abrasive, but it went over well and the crowd loved me. Go figure.

But here is the key. In order to overcome fear, you must understand its purpose, how to deal with it, and most importantly, get out there and face it.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"

Yes, Mr. Roosevelt.

We must all learn to face fear, to go toe to toe with it, take it head on, and make it our friend. We must learn of it and use it for our betterment and the betterment of all those we can touch by overcoming ourselves. And that's what the majority of life it about.

In this life, you will be called upon to do those things to not only improve your life, but the lives of others. You may even be called on to save the life of another. Are you prepared to do what is necessary? Or to let fear conquer you, leading to a feeling of regret and remorse that will stay with you to the end of your life, if not to the end of time, if you don't make the decision at some point to conquor your fears.

Your choice.

But if you choose to overcome your fears and take all challenges face on, this will develop great self-confidence and calm, another great tool that enables one to get things done by not letting others affect what you desire to accomplish. And as you move forward seeking your success, there will be many who desire to keep you down with them, but you will have the skills, understanding, and attitude needed to act and to change yourself for the better.

Author's Bio: 

Jeff is CEO of InnerProjection.com: working with students and parents using the proprietary Success, Design and Preparation system creating a plan to ensure being of the 30% of college grads who don't waste 10 to 15 years or leave 100s of thousands of dollars on the table.

Previous to owning Inner Projection, Jeff worked as a computer programmer and in tech. support, but hated it enough to move from his home in Connecticut to do stand up comedy in Boston where he worked with such comics as Bill Burr, Dan Cook, and Billy Martin and wrote for people like Mz. Michagan who needed material for her ventriloquism act. He then moved to Los Angeles to do more stand up, but found being a college professor more fulfilling. He's married with 3 children.

Looking for a fast paced, fun, inspirational read?: Black Body Radiation and the Ultraviolet Catastrophe (Amazon.com).