Jill Konrath


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Facing Into My Fears and Failures


Ever been in a slot canyon? It can be frightening -- especially when they're really narrow like the aptly called Spooky Canyon in Utah.

Overcoming fearsLast year, I hiked in about 1/4 of a mile when my claustrophobia hit. The path was so skinny that we had to walk sideways to get through. There were other hikers just a few feet in front of me, but I couldn't even see them with all the twists and turns.

Fifty feet above me, there was a slight opening where you could see a slight patch of blue sky -- most of the time. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I couldn't breathe.

I said to my husband, "I can't take this anymore." He was feeling the same way, so we reversed course. But, because there wasn't enough space to turn around, we had to walk backwards for awhile.

When we got out, I was quite confident that I didn't need to ever do that again.

Until this year. I needed to tackle my fears. Thousands of people go through Spooky each year. They don't die or get stuck and have to chew off their arm to survive.

So this time through, I decided to set myself up for success.

I read other people's accounts of going through Spooky with their families and how much they loved it. Lots of people mentioned that although it got unbearably narrow at certain points, it did widen out shortly after that.  (I prepped myself mentally.)

I also knew that I needed to go into the canyon with people in back of me and in front of me. Those ahead would show me that it could be done. Those behind would keep me from turning back -- literally. ( I positioned myself for success.)

My strategies worked. And, there was an surprise benefit of doing it this way too -- especially in those really difficult spots where you had to climb up on shelves that you couldn't reach yourself. Or, you had to slide down a long chute and under some huge boulders.

The group of young people in front of us kept offering help. At first we were too proud to accept it, thinking "We can do it ourselves." But we literally couldn't, so we accepted their helping hands. Tough challenges are so much easier when you have the collaboration and support of the people around you.

And, believe it or not, my presence helped a woman in the group behind us. She kept thinking, "If she can do it, I can handle it too."

To be successful, it's critical to tackle your fears. If you don't, they become major obstacles that limit you. But when you do it in one area, the mental strength you develop spills over into other places in your life -- and, it's all good.

Your Turn: What strategies do you use to overcome your fears? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.


Why focus on your fears when that strategy will stop you cold dead in your tracks?  
Focus only on the outcome of what you are doing now to get to your ultimate goal and decide if the reward is worth the effort.  
That's the key, the reward (the money, the prestige, the satisfaction of knowing you did something you didn't think you could do or weren't very good at to begin with) is where your focus should be.  
Fear will kill even the best of people's motivations.  
That's why you have to be fearless, especially in sales, where you face continual negativism, disdain, criticism and not a lot of encouragement.  
Best advice, stay away from people who are fearful or negative! LOL  
Posted @ Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:10 PM by Ron
There is an exultation known only by those who have faced an overwhelming fear and defeated it. We come out the other side with a humbling gratification that prepares us for life's challenges.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 12, 2012 2:03 PM by Bill
Sounds like my experience pot-holing in the UK, with a group of scouts - like a slot canyon but underground, so add darkness and water! 
My advice - do a 'risk-assessment' and consult/involve experts to make the risks manageable and the probability of success more certain.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 13, 2012 7:48 AM by Mark Stonham
"Fear is the mind killer" If you have thought it through to the end BEFORE you started, then just focus on the part right in front of you. Little steps start a big journey
Posted @ Wednesday, June 13, 2012 8:06 AM by Greg Mattison
Good for you Jill going back to try again! Love the photo and story.
Posted @ Tuesday, June 19, 2012 2:39 PM by Casey Hibbard
Fabulous! I am a little claustrophobic too. I would definitely have difficulty navigating through Spooky Canyon. 
Courage is the ability to overcome your fears. You showed great courage in making your way through. Great idea to have a strategy to help you get started. 
Having conquered this fear must make conquering others a little easier? 
Posted @ Monday, April 08, 2013 2:18 PM by Marc Zazeela
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