Dictionary.com defines fear in the following manner:
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of.
Regardless of the definition you choose to interpret as your understanding of fear, it is not a pleasant one. So how can something so awful be used as a motivator of some sort to help you succeed. When you really think about it, it really is quite obvious.
When some people are faced with a situation exposing their fear, they will run and never look to confront it again. However, for those with courage to face their fears, they often find that succeeding against their fear is one of the most rewarding things that they ever experience. In addition, they often find that it was their actual fear that enabled them to be successful.
Fear often evokes a fight or flight emotion in most people. When your fear is exposed and confronted, your heart starts to race, the body produces adrenaline, and your begin deciding which route you are going to take to deal with this fear. You either turn tail and run, or you stand up and fight, refusing to allow your fear to hold you back.
There is no victory greater than those where you never thought you had a chance. If you fear something, you are already behind in the game. However, as many a great coach has been known to say, "that is why they play the games." At times, if you allow yourself to calm down and focus that fear into effort, you will find that you are capable of extraordinary things, even in the most unlikely of scenarios. This is when your fear becomes your motivator to your success.
This can be applied to everyday situations as well as sporting events or life and death scenarios. If you are a small business owner, your biggest fear is that you will fail and lose everything. Your family could literally be out on the street if you are not successful. It may not be the same type of fear as going eyeball to eyeball with a wild tiger, but it is still fear. That fear can be what drives you to succeed.
Instead of running away from your fears and allowing them to dictate how you act, embrace them, confront them, and most importantly, overcome them. It is not uncommon for people to realize that once they do face down their fears, it was actually nothing to be afraid of in the first place. However, overcoming that one fear now enables them to look at other fears in the same manner and overcome them as well. For many, that first "fearful" step is what leads them on the path to success for the rest of their lives.