The greatest challenge you will ever face in life
is the conquest of fear and the development of courage
– Brian Tracy
Are you one of those people riding through life fearful of taking your foot off the brake stopping you being and doing everything you want to be and do?
Fear is the greatest obstacle to your success. It is epitomised by the words “I can’t”. “I can’t”, not because I am not able to, but because I fear to. When you contemplate something new or different, fear rises up in you. If you keep thinking about it, the fear consumes you and becomes overwhelming. “I can’t, I can’t” grips every part of your being so you switch off thinking about going into that new space, together with all its possibilities and opportunities. You go back into your comfort zone, as unchallenging as that might be.
You probably fear one of two things – or maybe both. You fear failure or you fear rejection. They are the two greatest fears of us all and they often go hand in hand.
Fear of Failure
Fear of failure can make you impotent. It can paralyse you and cause you to contract and shrink when the reason you are here is to expand and grow and enhance your potential. You won’t try anything unless you have a guarantee that you will be successful at it. The alternative – failing – sends shivers of fear through you that you don’t want to entertain. You might want to start your own business, but you fear leaving the security of a salaried position, that you might go bankrupt, that you may not be able to attract clients and customers, that there may be too much competition, and so it goes on. In fact, the longer you stay stuck in the fear, the more things you find to be fearful about.
Yet failure can be the greatest of learning experiences and the most successful people will tell you that they have failed often. It’s the mindset you bring to failure that separates out the successful from the unsuccessful.
Fear of Rejection
There is also the fear of rejection. “I can’t” because I need the approval of my colleagues, my parents, my friends. You are living your life according to other’s expectations, always concerned about what they think of you. If I choose to do something different, to go in a new direction, I may become a different person. Will people still like me? Will I lose status, respect, credibility or professionalism? Will they criticise me, ridicule me or laugh at me behind my back? You can’t be sure what the outcome might be. You can’t be sure whether making this decision, taking this step to take your foot off the brake and move forward will see you isolated and alone professionally. An even worse fear arises. What if I take this step and I fail? The feeling of rejection will be far worse.
So you decide to stay where you are. You know that this is not where opportunities will present themselves for you to tap deeper into your potential. It is also not where the possibility lies of discovering talents you never knew you had. There will be just more of the same.
So What Do You Do About Your Fear?
You have two choices.
1. You can sit with your fear, hold it close, nurse it and feed it so that it increases in size and eventually makes you impotent to do anything about your life,
2. You can feel the fear, understand it then take control of it, overpower it and let the determination to master it drive your success.
Of course, logically you have no choice but to take the second option. That’s easy to say, however, but harder to do. It takes courage in abundance.
What Really is Fear?
Understand what fear really is. Franklin D. Roosevelt said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. When you let fear inhibit or paralyse you, you are attributing a power to it that it doesn’t really have. It is only a feeling that rises up inside you when triggered by something you’ve decided is threatening. It is not real even though it feels very real. It cannot hurt you.
For example, if you change the feeling you have about the poor performance review (or whatever else has triggered the feeling) from fear to resilience and pro-activity then it becomes no longer threatening.
How do you do that? You work on yourself.
• You work on what’s going on in your head and what you are saying to yourself that is creating the fear.
• You work on your mindset. You develop a growth mindset that is characterised by that feeling of resilience and pro-activity. You say to yourself: “I am not going to let this poor performance review destroy me or stand in the way of my success. I am going to go to my manager and find out what I need to do to turn it around. I’m then going to give 150% to make it happen. I am going to bounce back from this. I am going to use this as a motivator to move on and up.”
Every time you confront your fear head on you reduce its power over you. Eventually you discover that rarely does fear stop you from doing something you want to do. It will still rear its head but you are now in control, not it. That’s how you eventually conquer fear and develop the courage to take action. Success and achievement follow.
Ask yourself two questions:
• What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
• What would I do if I knew that I would be supported rather than rejected?
Then JUST DO IT!
So take your foot off the brake.
Be courageous and take a risk.
Do what you fear to do.
Be who you fear to be.
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