Overcome what is holding you back

Every journey starts with a single step. But often it's that first step that seems the most daunting. Shane Kempton recalls his start in the industry and gives some welcome advice on how to overcome any fears that may be crippling you.

Can you remember when you first started in this wonderful industry? You got your qualification, you did your induction training and you were feeling fired up and ready to take on your patch and be the next number one.

On your first day in the real world of real estate, your principal would have said something along the lines of, “Okay, welcome to the team. Here’s your desk, time to start prospecting. Go knock on some doors”. 

That’s probably when you first felt the wave of fear sweep through your body.

I remember driving for about an hour through my allocated suburb, looking for the ‘right door’ to knock on. I couldn’t find it. The longer I drove and procrastinated, the worse the stories got in my head about how awful it will be when I knock on that first door.

The self-talk sounded like this: ‘Nobody wants to talk me. I don’t know what I’m doing. They are going to hate me for interrupting them’.

For some agents, the story gets so bad in their head, they never actually knock on a door. Fear can do this. It can cripple the best of us if we allow it to spiral out of control. So, how do we solve the problem of the debilitating effects fear can have on our potential and ambitions?

Albert Einstein said, “If I were given one hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute solving it”.

Or more simply put, Charles Kettering, the famed inventor and head of research for General Motors, said, “a problem well-stated is half-solved”.

From my time in the military and my three decades of coaching and leading people in this industry, I’ve seen some rise, whilst others faltered.

Some climb the ladder to the top, while some stop halfway – or even fail to take the first step. If I was to define the one common cause that is stopping most people from reaching their full potential, it is fear.


If we dig a little deeper into fear, we find there are several different types; we have the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of isolation (being alone or not belonging) and the fear of chaos (not being in control).

Yet, underlying all of these variants is the master of all fears and the destroyer of many people’s dreams and potential, and that’s the fear of, “I’m not good enough”.

Those four words have crushed the hopes and dreams of countless people and potentially, caused you to prematurely stop progressing along your chosen path.

Okay, so now that we have started to understand the challenge, what’s the solution? 

In very simple terms, we turn that fear into fuel by shifting our focus.

To do this, we need to truly define the fear challenge and debunk all the furphies that surround it, starting with this important point: Fear is not the enemy. It’s the negative, reactive thinking we default to when we feel fear, that is the real enemy of success.


Ant Middleton is a former operator with the elite Special Boat Service (UK’s naval special forces unit)and the chief instructor on the hit TV show, Australian SAS.

He breaks down fear objectively to its biological make up, a physical feeling preparing us for our natural ‘fight or flight’ response. Useful when we are in grave danger, but an overreaction if you are about to do some phone prospecting or have a price alignment conversation.

According to Ant, when we focus on what we are physically feeling when we experience fear, we notice a “heavy knot” in our stomach.

That’s our body moving all its energy resources to our mobility muscles. Our skin becomes sweaty. That’s our body getting ready to cool our mobility muscles during our ‘fight of flight’ response.

This is biology that has kept us alive for thousands of years. Useful when wild beasts and competing tribes were trying to kill us, but less relevant now.

Therefore, we need to know how to refocus that energy and turn it into fuel that feeds our courage and compels us to step outside of our comfort zone, into the unknown, where all new possibilities exist. If we don’t refocus, fear can leave us feeling stuck.


You have probably heard the term ‘paralysed by fear’. You may have even experienced it. This occurs because fear is fuelled by fearful, negative and often imagined thinking.

These False Experiences Appearing Real (sneaky acronym) only reinforce and magnify that initial fear feeling. If left unchecked, those false, negative thoughts feed each other, compound and create this huge, exaggerated and imagined disaster story in our mind. Before long, we are shrinking back into the perceived safety of our comfort zone. 

If you are not paralysed by fear, you are most likely to Forget Everything And Run (boom, second sneaky acronym). This is the intent and outcome our fear response wants for us. To play small and safe, away from any wild beast that wants to eat us.

Unless we are in a profession that puts our life literally on the line (frontline services, military, professional fighter, etc.), these are all very irrational reactions to our survival programming.


Okay, now that the fear challenge is clearly defined, it’s time to take back control and Face Everything And Rise (my third and most potent acronym).

The Face Everything And Rise mindset is a potent adversary and, ultimately, the mortal enemy of the fear of ‘I’m not good enough’.

The Face Everything And Rise mindset is an inner game, and you start to win by proactively and logically changing your inner dialogue. Your self talk and words are your best tools in the process of refocusing your fear energy. Like swapping the word ‘problem’ with ‘challenge’. 

Override the negative and irrational emotional self-talk with proactive, positive and constructive logical questions.

Next time you feel fear, rather than allowing the flowing cascade of negative thoughts to affect and overwhelm you emotionally, to the point of indecision and inaction, instead do the following:

  1. Acknowledge the emotional reaction.
  2. Proactively short circuit the spiral downwards by saying, “enough”.
  3. Take a deep breath, regain control of your thoughts and self-talk.
  4. Fire up and leverage the processing power of your logical brain by asking yourself powerful questions.

Instead of statements like, “I can’t do this”, ask yourself, “What’s the best way I can do this?”

Swap the destructive mind chatter of, “What if it doesn’t work?” to, “How good will it be when I do this?”

Getting specific supercharges the refocusing process, too. Instead of saying to yourself, “I don’t know how to do this”, ask, “Who are the best three people I know who can teach me?”

Control the narrative of your self-talk and you will master the inner game, find the courage to step out of your comfort zone and be on the path to reaching your full potential.

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.