In order to succeed, we must overcome. Obstacles, fears — fear of failure. The best of the best in business have learned to at least quell their fears in order to function on a successful level.
1. Fear of failure
Why not start out with the one that each of us shares most in common? Everyone fears failure and it holds them back. “What if?” followed by one negative iteration or another, is the most common question asked which leads us to get stuck in the fear of failure loop.
I don’t know who said this originally, but I like to quickly correct “what ifs” with:
“Every master was once a disaster.”
2. Fear of succeeding
There’s some true psychology that goes into why we fear success, especially considering fear of failure is on the top of the list of most entrepreneur’s fears. Most of it boils down to mommy, daddy, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other family members and their mindset.
Those who fear success were brought up to think true success is unrealistic — a matter of luck more than work ethic that’s only bestowed on a select few. Ask them how/why Donald Trump has had so much success in business and they’d tell you that it’s because he had a rich daddy.
Other sources will say that we fear the recognition that comes with success. How would we deal? I’m not sure this one holds true, but perhaps some of you reading will be able to relate.
3. Fear of criticism
Fear of criticism holds many of us back. Some are oblivious to the concept of being encumbered by what others think and say of them and their ideas. Most are at least partially stifled, if not completely paralyzed by the threat of criticism.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to pursue in this world, there’ll always be someone there to play the role of naysayer. Especially those who live the typical “work for the man, raise 2.5 kids in a mortgaged house in the suburbs, retire at 55/65 to play golf/bingo/fill in the blank. They don’t want to hear a bunch of nonsense about how you’re going to drop out of college to build a business, or travel around the world indefinitely.
Here’s the thing: Once you’re successful, all that criticism will quickly fade to admiration and pride in what you were able to accomplish. And hey, when you’re dead you won’t care what others thought about the decisions you made throughout life.
4. Fear of going broke
Anytime success is looming on our horizon, there’s going to be an element of financial risk.
If you decide to make a career shift to a completely different industry, there’s going to be training, potentially lower pay for some time, and the worry that the new position might not work out and you’ll be stuck with nothing to pay the bills.
Launch your own business from the ground up? There’s a whole lot of financial worries to consider, especially if you have a family relying on you and no savings in the bank.
5. Fear of getting old
Benjamin Franklin once uttered a quote that’s rarely repeated nowadays:
“Most people die at 25 and are buried at 75.”
Essentially, though most people fear getting old and dying, they still give up on life way too early, robbing themselves of the success they could have if only they could get out of their fear funk.
Fear of getting old can be very healthy though, if you use it as motivation to live every day like it’s your last. Or at least not treat day-to-day living as casually as the majority do. You’re going to get old, then die. Do what YOU want to do with your life and you just might be fortunate enough to be immortalized like Ben Franklin and other historical icons who followed their own path.
6. Fear of Embarrassment
This may just be the worst of all offenders when it comes to fears that hold us back. The fear of embarrassment also ties into every single other fear mentioned on this list. It’s also ingrained in us from an early age, and so’s a hard fear to get control of.
There’s no great advice I, nor anyone else could possibly offer for quelling this fear. It’s something you really have to sort in your own mind and resolve a way to stay the feeling when it crops up.
Fear of embarrassment can be helpful, such as reminding us to brush our teeth every night so we don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed of having an imperfect smile. Most times it’s crippling and irrational though, particularly with career moves and/or going off on your own to launch a business.
Famed screenwriter, director and film critic, Paul Schrader has a helpful quote on this stifling fear:
“The secret to a creative life is to feel at ease with your own embarrassment.”
All the fears above can be relatively easy to overcome by cultivating a deep and sincere faith in yourself.
Don’t wait until it’s too late though! Heed Benjamin Franklin’s advice and choose to die when nature decides it’s time, rather than rotting away for decades thinking about what might have been.
Following is my mantra that makes every day a new and exciting adventure toward achieving as many of my goals as possible. The message it contains scares me more than any of the 6 mentioned on this page:
“Many people die with their music still in them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
Main Image Credit: Beau Lebens/Flickr