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Beating our fears

Lynnda and I took our first airplane trip in over a year this week. We took some long trips to places like the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving with family and Kiawah Island, S.C., for a half marathon with our daughter. We even went to Disney in Florida with our youngest and his family. All of these were by car. We were afraid to fly because of COVID because we had no control of the situation at the airport and on the plane. With a business trip planned where we must to fly, it was time to overcome our fears. Being vaccinated helps.

Instead of listening to social media or people who haven’t been flying we talked to business people and my professional speaker friends who have flown. We learned planes are using HEPA filters that capture 99.9 percent of airborne viruses and bacteria. The airline had enhanced cleaning protocols and two EPA-registered fogging treatments. We had not seen a plane that clean since we flew to Japan on a new airplane. My peers felt safe at the airport and in the air. We flew out of Charleston, a smaller airport that didn’t have long check-in and security lines. It also wasn’t as crowded. We felt safe in the airport. We got a seat up front and didn’t have a stranger next to us. In Orlando travelers were way down so it was easy to social distance. Everyone wore masks at the airports and on the plane. We eliminated our fear with fact and precaution.

Fear can be false evidence appearing real. When it comes to COVID there is a lot of information out there. Some of it is false. Some of it is outdated. Science, especially medical science is never settled. We are constantly learning new things about viruses and how to fight them. We know much more today than we did a year ago about COVID 19. We will know even more a year from today. Finding the most current and accurate information isn’t easy. Sometimes we need to learn from our own experience.

While we were waiting in line at Disney’s EPCOT park, Lynnda struck up a conversation with a young mother from Michigan who was with her 3-year-old daughter. This was her first trip anywhere since the pandemic. She stayed in lockdown for over a year not because of the governor’s order but because of her own fear. Most of her family members chose not to be locked down and planned this trip. Mom decided she wanted her daughter to experience the joy of Disney World. She chose to overcome her fear for her daughter’s sake. Once she made the trip, this young mother realized her fear was based on false evidence. Disney has installed protocols to protect guests. She felt safe with her daughter traveling and at Disney. Now she knows the truth from first hand experience. They ate at restaurants. People don’t need lock down to stay safe. This mother said she won’t be going back into lock down.

Fear is an important emotion. It keeps us safe. It keeps us from doing stupid things endangering ourselves and others. My dad was a U.S. Marine who fought in the Pacific in WWII. He never talked much about the war. When I was older he talked a little about the Battle of Tarawa. Dad said he was in the second wave of Marines to hit the beach and added, “If I had been in the first wave you wouldn’t be here today.” I can’t begin to imagine his fear knowing he had to wade in waist deep water under fire with no cover and make it to the beach. That was just the beginning.

Dad enlisted to fight for our country’s freedom. He was trained to overcome and use fear to his advantage. He talked about the men in his unit. When I saw photos of that battle it helped me to understand their bond. Fighting for something bigger like our country and their comrades helped them to overcome fear.

We all have fears to overcome though not as dramatic as combat. I didn’t have many dates in high school because I was afraid of ask. My desire for a social life forced me to overcome fear of rejection. I learned, “No” didn’t kill me. With persistence it eventually became “Yes.” In sales, we experience more “Nos” than “Yeses.” Most people don’t like sales because of the fear and discomfort of rejection. As a sales manager, most of my people liked to sell to their friends who they have worked with for years. The new customer or the tough customer was a challenge. It is also where the gold is. I encouraged my salespeople to contact new and tough customers. Then I praised them. All they needed was one win to give them confidence to continue.

How can we overcome fear? We need to learn the truth and overcome false evidence. We need to find the courage to do the thing we fear. What is the cost if you don’t overcome your fear? It may be opportunity missed. Lockdowns have mental health consequences. Sometimes, we need a coach, a mentor or a friend to encourage us. I have a friend whose wife had not left the house in almost a year. He could see the mental impact on her health. Lynnda and I helped him to encourage to her to go to dinner at a safe local restaurant. Once she got out for the first time she felt comfortable going to dinner with friends the following week.

Lynnda and I are ready to fly again. The young mom went to three parks on this trip. When she gets home she will go to the grocery store and go out to dinner. What fears do you have that are based on false evidence? How important is it for you to overcome them? What is the alternative?

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Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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