Imagine you had to cross a deep ravine by walking across a narrow, weak plank.

Imagine you have to make this walk because the forest behind you is on fire and it’s the only way you can save your life. However, you have a lifelong fear of heights, and, until this day, you wouldn’t even have stood on a chair to reach a shelf.

How would you approach this walk? Quite naturally, you’d focus all of your attention on the safe, sturdy land you’re headed to.

Intuitively, you’d also resist looking down, because you’re well aware that looking would make the fear much worse, making you less surefooted and more likely to bring about your worst fear – freefall.

Yet when it comes to problems in daily life we act completely against our intuition and focus solely on the things that terrify us.

Are any of these phrases familiar?

“What if I make a fool of myself?”

“What if they don’t like me?”

“What if it goes wrong?”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

For example, you have a potentially challenging conversation coming up, such as giving negative feedback to a colleague, or confronting a bullying boss.

Try this: don’t allow your mind to dwell on all the things that could go wrong. Just resist allowing yourself to focus on that. Nor should you be thinking about the last time you got into a situation like this, and the problems you encountered at that time.

Like looking down on that narrow bridge, these thoughts make you more stressed out, less confident and more likely to bring about your worst fear.

Our state of mind has such a powerful affect on our reality, that worries can be quite dangerous. That is Murphy’s law in action.

Instead, focus on the safe, sturdy land on the other side – the way you’ll feel as you walk out of your boss’s office with a big smile on your face and the urge to punch the air. This is what sportsmen and women do when they’re preparing to take a penalty kick, or leap the hurdles. If they allow their mind to go anywhere near the idea of failure, their performance will be adversely affected. Just watch Jonny Wilkinson prepare to convert a try – there’s no room in his mind at that point for failure.

Focus on the end result, never how you’ll get there. You’ll work that out as you go. It’s better to remember that usually, the only way out is through.