“Don’t fear failure. It’s as much a part of your journey to extraordinary results as success.” – Gary Keller
Welcome to the holidays.
And the home stretch of 2021.
(But is anyone else out there still typing 2020?!)
It’s a time of year that often prompts us to look forward. Make plans, goals, and promises.
There’s a lot to look forward to in 2022!
But sometimes having that much pressure to look forward can create stress. Even fear.
So then the question is, what do we do about that fear? What do we do with it?
Consider a few truths about fear:
Everyone feels fear.
You will never completely remove it. If you think you can, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Our fears are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Fear can stop us in our tracks; it can inspire us to take action.
The problem is, our fears are often subconscious. That makes it difficult to determine what the fear is and how it’s holding you back from creating the life you want to live or the relationships you want to experience.
And so, again, what do we do about that?
If you’re asking me? You need to start by doing the work to name the fear.There’s (at least) three types of fear I encounter over and over with my clients.
Fear #1: Fear of Failure:
(The one almost all of us have experienced multiple times)
I will admit, in the first few years of my coaching profession, I experienced fear every single day.
I was not putting myself out there too far, too much, too loud, too…anything. I didn’t trust I had what it took, and I acted accordingly. I had a fear of failure.
In all of my other businesses I was “selling” a product. With coaching, I was selling myself. If I was “selling” me, and I didn’t succeed, what on earth would that say about me?
So, I would procrastinate (and second guess) before I would post an article, hit “Go Live” on Facebook, invite a client to work with me (even though I knew I could help them with the transformation they were seeking,) or apply to be a speaker, etc….and a great deal of the time, I would decide to do it another day.
But that “another day” came sporadically. And it limited my success.
The irony that a fear of failure creates exactly what we’re trying most to avoid, failure? Well, it’s not lost on me.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes that continues to inspire me to move past my fears and helped me step into the future I wanted:
“Fear Regret More Than Failure”
~ Taryn Rose
Fear #2: Fear of Success:
(Fear of rocking the boat)
This one will often raise an eyebrow when I mention it.
Fear of success, how silly is that?
Yet, when I speak with most leaders, they’re already So. Damn. Busy. Their belief is, if they take their business or career to the next level, it will completely consume them.
How will they be able to handle it, do it all, be present with the ones they love or prioritize effectively?
There is a very real fear that success will consume any tidbit of freedom left that we have in our lives.
My client Steve had set a goal of taking his business full time and quitting his corporate job. He was there – the business was ready for him to take the leap.
But he kept delaying the actions that would make it happen. It was confusing, but a self-sabotage I’m not unfamiliar with.
With trust and a safe environment in place, I was able to question Steve about what was going on. He admitted he was finally in a place in his life where things were good and he didn’t want to rock the boat. He was enjoying the moment.
And he feared that he didn’t have “it” to achieve the success he dreamed of. Steve feared pursuing his dream for the future meant sacrificing what he was treasuring in the present.
The truth is, Steve did have what it takes. And with some clarity on what he wanted his life to look like, we adjusted his goals and put a plan in place for him to stay at his job for another 8 months. This way he could relish where he was at in his business without feeling consumed by all that he felt he needed to do to launch full time.
The additional time gave him the space to get clear on what he wanted, and how he was willing to go about getting it.
There is amazing power in a strategic pause.
You get to define what success is for you. When you decide what it really looks and feels like you can then work backwards from that goal to strategically create a business or career that will sustain that life, not consume it.
The key is, you need clarity. Without clarity, we aren’t able to discern what’s an opportunity and what’s a distraction. We say “YES” to too much and bam, we’re overwhelmed, under water, and believing this is what success looks like.
But it doesn’t have to.
Fear #3: Fear of what others think:
(Being hooked on the opinion of others)
Years ago, not fitting in had serious consequences. If you really go back in time, being cast out of our community would often mean death. If we were no longer part of our tribe we were on our own… fending off saber-toothed tigers and other prehistoric predators alone (and probably unsuccessfully.)
Our brains today are still wired to keep us safe, on the constant lookout for what might cause us to move into fight, flight, or freeze.
80,000 years ago this kept us alive. Now, this is often enough to stop us from taking the action that moves us closer to our goals.
We are still wired for flight, fight, or freeze to keep us safe from harm, real or perceived.
I was working with a client on his leadership style and the change he wanted to influence on his office’s culture. But his boss was, shall we say, a bit old school, and my client did not feel comfortable pushing hard for the changes he wanted to bring.
He was unhappy, stressed daily, and unsure of his next step – he was frozen by his fear of what his colleagues and boss would think.
I asked him which was scarier, creating the change he was seeking or being in the same place next year. He took a long pause and finally said, “Being exactly where I am next year is WAY more frightening.”
This clarity alone inspired him to act and to become a more intentional leader who leads from his strengths rather than his fear.
When you unhook from what (you think) others are thinking, suddenly your vision of what’s possible expands. You set larger, scarier, goals…you connect to that bigger vision of your life and know you deserve it.
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.”
~ Jim Carrey
Move past fear and Thrive (not just Survive)
Maybe by this point you’ve identified your fear. It might fall neatly into one of the three buckets, or it might span two (or all) of them.
Now you’re ready to figure out what you want to do about it.
1. Be Curious.
When you find yourself thinking in absolutes, making declarations such as:
“You’re going to fail,”
“You’re going to seriously embarrass yourself,”
“I won’t be able to pay the mortgage and we’ll be homeless in no time,”
It’s time to pause and get curious.
What is actually likely to happen? What’s the worst case scenario? What would have to transpire, in detail, for that worst case to come true?
Play this out to the end game and see what your beliefs are then.
Is fear stopping you from being visible—putting yourself out there—picking up the phone—connecting with an influencer you would LOVE to talk to—etc…?
Naming what you’re fearful of happening (after playing it out) often shows us the reality of that happening/occurring is extremely unlikely.
2. Be intentional.
Pause and connect to the future you want and let that motivate you to take action (instead of fear leading to inaction.)
Schedule time to get clear on the life you want to live and let that inspire you.
Who do you want or need to be to create what you want/achieve your goals?
What do you need to let go of that’s no longer serving you?
Get clear on your core values… it’s how you chart your course through your fear. Your vision is where you’re headed, your values are how you get there.
3. Be the You who Future You wants you to be.
Fast forward and picture yourself at the age of 70-80.
What will be most important to you years from now?
What will you remember?
Don’t let your short-term fear create long-term regret.
Fear creates self-imposed walls for our success.
Our brains are hard-wired to keep us safe.
Our fears are meant to keep us safe.
But far, far too often our fears instead keep us small. Fear is meant to stop you, not inspire you to think and be bigger.
So your success comes not from listening to your fear and believing the story it’s telling. Success is in pausing long enough that you can listen to the most powerful and grounded part of you, your inner truth and wisdom.
Deep down you know exactly what you’re scared of and why. And you know what you want to do about it.
Success does not come from your fear acting as dictator. Your success is in what you make of your fear, and how you step out of it.
Could you use some support working through your fears and towards your dreams? Feel free to schedule a time to chat with me here.