Becoming A Coach

The Science of “Doing It Scared”: How Fear and Excitement Can Move You Forward

Explore the science behind "doing it scared" and learn how to harness fear and excitement to drive growth in your coaching career and personal life.

The Science of “Doing It Scared”: How Fear and Excitement Can Move You Forward

At Lumia, we've witnessed countless aspiring coaches take their first steps into the world of professional coaching with a mix of fear and enthusiasm.

This combination of trepidation and excitement is common and well-documented – after all, people love roller coasters and scary movies, don’t they?! In this post, we’re taking a look at how that one-two punch of fear and excitement can be harnessed to drive your growth both as a person and as a professional coach.   

Let's begin by taking a look at the science behind these emotions, and explore how "doing it scared" can be the key to your success as a coach.

The Neurochemistry of Fear and Excitement

Fear and excitement are two sides of the same neurological coin. Both emotions activate the sympathetic nervous system, triggering a biological response that includes:

  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Elevated blood pressure
  3. Heightened sensory awareness
  4. Release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline

The brain's limbic system, particularly the amygdala, plays a strong role in processing both fear and excitement. Now here’s the intriguing bit: the amygdala doesn't distinguish between positive and negative arousal—it simply detects intensity.

How Do We Use These Emotions To Our Advantage??

We have some ability to decide how we want to react to outside stimuli, which scientists call cognitive appraisal. This is the space in which you can consciously leverage fear to your advantage!

While the initial neurological response to fear and excitement may be similar, our cognitive appraisal of the situation determines how we ultimately experience the emotion. 

(via wikipedia)

Have you ever heard the phrase "doing it scared"? This is how that philosophy comes into play. By taking a closer look at a situation, and consciously reframing your fear to excitement, you can shift your cognitive appraisal and alter your emotional experience.

Pretty cool, huh?

How to Reframe

Reframing is a well-known coaching technique, and one we teach students in Lumia’s life coach training program. When it comes to shifting from fear to something higher, here are a few examples of what thatlooks like in action.

  • Instead of thinking "I'm terrified of public speaking," try telling yourself "I'm excited about the opportunity to share my ideas with a large audience."
  • "I'm scared to start my coaching business." Instead, it becomes: "I'm thrilled about the chance to make a positive impact on people's lives through my new coaching venture."
  • "I'm afraid I might fail." Instead, reframe it to: "I'm excited to push my boundaries and learn new skills through this project."

The Growth Mindset and Neuroplasticity

Carol Dweck's research on growth mindset gives us another tool to use when we are considering fear and excitement. A fixed mindset would have us believe our skills and abilities are set and unchangeable, while a growth mindset orients us toward the belief that skills can improve with effort and practice.

Science tells us that embracing challenges and seeing them as opportunities for growth—rather than insurmountable obstacles—can actually change our brain's structure.

So how does it work?

Neuroplasticity – the brain's ability to form new neural connections – is improved when we engage in new and challenging experiences. By "doing it scared" and pursuing your goals despite your fears, you're literally rewiring your brain for resilience and adaptability.

(If this dive into the science behind how humans grow and change thrills you, you’re not alone. We have entire classes at Lumia devoted to the science behind coaching and why it works!)

Harnessing Fear in Your Coaching Practice

Understanding the neuroscience of fear and excitement isn't just personally beneficial—it's a powerful tool for your future coaching practice. Here's how you can apply this knowledge:

  1. Normalize: Talk to your clients about the biological similarities between fear and excitement.

  2. Leverage Cognitive Reappraisal: Teach clients ways to pause and reinterpret their feelings as excitement rather than fear.

  3. Promote a Growth Mindset: Encourage coaching clients to view challenges as opportunities for growth and skill development.

  4. Make an Action Plan: Working with your client, come up with a series of small steps that they can take to clients to experience and overcome their fear in controlled doses, building their resilience over time.

As you contemplate taking the leap into coaching, remember that the fear you feel is normal and a sign that you're on the brink of significant growth. The same neurological processes that generate fear also create heightened awareness conditions for learning, insight, and personal transformation.

James Clear has a great summary of the steps it takes to change, and says that it’s more effective to decide who we want to be rather than focusing on action-based outcomes:

“Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.

2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.”

At Lumia, we believe that understanding the science behind your emotions can be a powerful catalyst for change. By "doing it scared," you're not just overcoming fear—you're actively engaging in a process of growth that will serve you well in your coaching career.

Your journey into coaching is an opportunity to experience firsthand the transformative power of facing your fears. This lived experience will become an invaluable asset as you guide your future clients through their own challenges and growth.

Ready to Become A Coach?

Ready to harness your fear and excitement to become the coach you're meant to be? Reach out to our admissions team today. Let's explore how Lumia can support you in turning your neurological responses into powerful tools for personal and professional growth.

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

[Free Guide] 6 Steps to Start Coaching Today

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Lumia is accredited by the ICF as a Level 2 Pathway Program. Want to learn more about the ICF credential requirements? Click here for further details.