Neuroscience of Fear – Tips to Overcome Fear

Have you ever felt fear? Many leaders pretend they are incredibly controlled, resilient and confident. The perceived ideal image is for them to show that they do not feel fear.

Want to know the truth?

I have never met anyone who doesn’t face fear.

Every day, I work with clients, teams, associates, and leaders who feel fear. Many don’t want to discuss or talk about fear. Others’ don’t know how to move through the fear. It takes vulnerability to admit and talk about fears.

The biggest fear of all? I don’t know if the actions I take will create the desired results that I want.

I am not alone.

Every single entrepreneur, leader, or executive is afraid of something. That fear is always shown in behavior and mindset. It is shown by the way they speak to or behave with their teams or the energy they give out at work.

No matter how it is shown, fear is real.

Everyone knows fear affects your life.

Fear affects opportunities, relationships, revenue, motivation, performance, and employee morale.

Fear is formed when the mind focuses on the uncertainty of future outcomes. Confidence comes from the awareness of all the facts along with a belief in a positive outcome, no matter the uncertainty present.

The good thing is there’s some research from MIT that shows you exactly how to overcome fear with some interesting research that started with multi-tasking.

Earl Miller is a cognitive specialist and neuroscience professor at MIT. His research found that humans couldn’t focus on more than one thing at a time. Most of the application of his research has focused on our inability to multitask and how to increase brainpower. Yet, when you understand that to feel fear you have to consciously think about it, then you can take the research and apply it to almost any situation. This does not apply to unconscious or instant fear, fear that is an emotion. This research applies to the main type of fear we feel daily, which is conscious fear based on our expectations and perceptions.

Watch my Youtube Video to find out more about Embracing Fear 

Since our brains only can consciously focus on one thing at a time, once you are in the act of doing, your fear overcome away. Therefore, taking action reduces conscious fear.

Since fear paralyzes, how do you take action? The application of Miller’s research requires a somewhat unique approach to fear. This is why commitment is so important.

Once you commit to something, nothing else matters.

If you want to take action, which will eliminate fear, the only thing you need to do is make a commitment. Why? Commitment means the action is taking place and your brain is focusing on something else besides the fear.

This is true when I first wanted to start my company, I was petrified. I used to think about it like Jumping of a Cliff (now a chapter in my first book Leadership Attitude). The one thing that helped me have the courage to jump off and move through the fear was commitment and action. I am now about to embark on another path and journey with my business and brand and for months I have been resisting it because of fear. I get it. Today there is now nothing stopping me. This is why I love speaking and coaching as I will do anything to help someone achieve what they want and be the best versions of them. I ask them to commit and I am committed to them.

Commitment always leads to confidence; it is a cycle. Yes, I know. Action creates success and success will create confidence. If you don’t have confidence, take action, and the confidence will come because you will find success because you will not be thinking about fear.

All fear is neutralized when commitment is proven through action. Action breeds confidence. This is how your brain works.

If you need help with commitment and action, let me share some of my favorite tips to Overcome Fear –

  • Think about where the FEAR comes from – maybe something from childhood? Find out where it comes from and remember you are not that child any more or that previous experience cannot harm you again.
  • Squash those ANTs – if you have Automatic Negative Thoughts, you are the Director of your Brain and get them off the stage.
  • Visualise what you want, write it down, create vision boards and commit to one action per day to make it happen.
  • Practice Mindfulness – if you are feeling anxious and fearful about something, sit with it for a moment, breathe and remember not to judge the feelings or thoughts. Fear is an emotion and you can change your emotions.
  • Daily Affirmations (I have plenty on my mirror) – these are powerful and talk to yourself like you would someone you love. Even if it feels fake, you can trick the brain and you will soon start to feel what you are saying.
  • Surround yourself with a tribe – make sure you have amazing people who love and support you and only want the best for you. Tell them about your fears and commitments and ask for help.
  • Don’t die wondering – don’t get to your death bed (sorry for being so morbid) and regret that you didn’t do it. Don’t let the fear stop you from living and life a life you truly want.
  • Appreciate your courage – I would tell herself during difficult times, “Every time I don’t allow fear to keep me from doing something that scares me, I am making myself stronger and less likely to let the next fear attack stop me.”
  • Just do it and Just Rock It! – yes feel the fear and just do it. And just rock it – and be the best version of you. What is stopping you? Only you are stopping you and you can do it!

Contact me today if you want to engage a coach and cheerleader to help you be the best person you can be and create the life and leadership you want!

Find out about my NEW Group Courageous Coaching Program today – starts on 15th July

About the Author

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organizations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of human resource management. She has held leadership positions around the globe and through experience, research and study come to realize what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognized as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, who puts people at ease and starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognized for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Keynote topics for 2019

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”.

Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humor will enhance any event she appears.

1. Leadership Attitude

2. Just Rock It

3. Leadership for Small Business

4. Leading the Next Generations

5. Courageous Leadership

6. Future Leaders and Leadership

Contact Sonia HERE today

Phone 1300 719 665 or +61 424 447 616




This Together

We’re All in This Together

Yesterday I was the Keynote Speaker for one of my favorite keynotes and workshops around Leadership Attitude. Even though the theme was Balance for Better, I focused for Balance is Better for all of us; together regardless on race, gender, age and so forth and to appreciate the uniqueness and talents of us all. Leadership is about being brave and kind – and ultimately if you can inspire someone to do more, learn more and be more; you are a leader. What I loved about the keynote was the number of men and women in the room and the number of men and women in the room who approached me afterward to share how much they got out of my keynote and some had tears (me too by the way…).

However, I was reading that SurveyMonkey and LeanIn released some startling findings recently: men are much more reluctant to participate in workplace activities that have them closely interacting with women since #MeToo and the anti-sexual harassment movement have gained traction. While #MeToo is fantastic for women, the ferocity of support has left many men worried about their actions being misconstrued – and this is causing women to miss out on valuable career opportunities, such as having male mentors and sponsors that can help them advance. In this era of #MeToo, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean we have to be against each other; it’s not men versus women, it’s all of us against inappropriate actions and behaviours that are damaging in the workplace (and all other areas of life).

If men continue to avoid solo interactions with women at work, we’ll only see the gender gap keep widening and the imbalance of power will be even more difficult to address. Men, especially managers, are doing a further disservice to women (even if they aren’t intending to) by hindering their career growth and progression. Great sponsors and mentors can make all the difference to a woman’s success in the workplace, so we must become allies, not enemies. 

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So, just how can we demonstrate that we’re all in this together, especially if we’re men who are concerned about being unfairly labelled? The answer is simple: act respectfully to your female colleagues and be sure to support them wherever possible, to help them grow and advance. Sponsorship is one of the best ways to do this.

A workplace sponsor is someone in the workplace who has power, who can influence decisions made about your career progression, advocate for your advancement and success and allows you to make mistakes (sometimes) and take risks, without harming your career. Sponsors go to bat for you, at the expense of risking their credibility and is a truly important part of your growth in the workplace. They are more hands-on than mentors, but that isn’t to say that mentors don’t have their place in helping a woman’s career.

Fast Company released data that shows that sponsorship is one of the most crucial parts of career advancement. Women with sponsors:

●     Are 27% more likely to ask for a raise than female peers who aren’t sponsored

●     Are 22% more likely to request ‘stretch assignments’ that contribute to their leadership reputation

●     Report that 68% are satisfied with how their career is advancing

Men are much more likely to have a sponsor than women – 56% more likely, in fact (according to Harvard Business Review). This culture needs to be changed, so that more men start stepping up and sponsoring their female colleagues, and that those women are prepared to accept the offer.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ about how our cutting edge and transformational leadership programs and coaching can change and transform your team and business.

As I said before, we’re all in this together. This means women should accept the help men are offering, and men should be offering more often. When men in the workplace make a real commitment to boosting their female coworkers, by advocating for them and promoting them (when deserved), we’ll start to see unity in the workplace and equality in opportunities and power for women. Respect goes both ways, and if you aren’t behaving inappropriately towards the women in your workplace, then you have nothing to fear.
Laws of Leadership

The 7 Laws of Leadership

I have put together these laws (when I say ‘laws’, I mean more like guidelines) for any leader who is looking for some direction – however, these are also great for making the most of life in general. I will expand on each one to explain why I believe they’re so important, and what they mean to me.

Without further ado, here are my 7 Laws of Leadership:

  1. Be brave. Be kind.

You’ll hear me speak (and write!) about this a lot, and with good reason; the best leaders are those who blaze trails and are willing to do the things nobody else will. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you take that leap! Always practice kindness and bravery.

  1. Follow your instincts, but don’t discount others’ opinions

If you can’t trust your gut feelings, why should anyone else trust in you and your actions? This doesn’t mean that you should ignore what everyone else thinks; it’s important to seriously consider all options and outcomes before making a decision, but great leaders become known for their instincts when they steer people and companies in the right direction and out of trouble. Trusting yourself can be hard, but it’s what you need to do to become a better leader.

  1. Be respectful, always

A leader who doesn’t treat others with respect will never be respected – and won’t be getting the best from their team. Relationships are built on respect, and you’ll need to forge relationships often in the workplace to be truly successful.

  1. Be empowering

When you give those around you the encouragement and tools to succeed, you’re instilling a sense of pride in their work and improving their self-esteem, while pushing them to get the best results possible. Making people feel good will make you feel good too, and will bring a great atmosphere to the workplace. You’ll also improve the culture of the business, which will have positive ripple effects throughout the whole company.

Contact the team at LeadershipHQ for a FREE Leadership or Business Culture Coaching Session 

  1. Be the model of what you expect from others

“Do as I say, not as I do” leaders are not respected, and will quickly sink a positive atmosphere in the workplace. If you want your team to be hard-working, honest, passionate – you need to model this for them and live it yourself. Enthusiasm is contagious; spread it to your team and see the great results.

  1. Be willing to do what is right, even when others don’t agree

Having integrity and doing what you believe is the right thing to do is an important characteristic of any great leader. No real change was ever made without someone taking that risk, standing up and saying “No more. This is what is right!” While others may not like it, you will more often than not gain their respect for sticking to your guns and doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is.

  1. Never stop learning

You’ll never know everything – that’s just a fact of life. But things are always changing; new research comes out, or new technology, and to continue staying on top of the competition, you need to be constantly learning and seeking out new information. Improving your skills and knowledge is never a bad thing

I go by these guidelines every day, and I hope they help inspire you to take the next step and ramp up your leadership. These laws also apply to life in general – who doesn’t want to be the best they can be, whether they’re a leader or not?

I’d love to hear what you think of my 7 Laws of Leadership! Let me know what you think of them, and if you think I should include any other laws. 

Phone 1300 719 665 or +61 424 447 616