Everyone admires a risk-taker, right? There’s something exciting about someone who takes a chance; the person who has the courage to start a business in a down economy, a sports team that goes for the two-point shot to win the game or the sky-diver who jumps out of an airplane and isn’t afraid to fall. What do these people have in common? They’re willing to put everything on the line to get what they want. You can’t help but be in awe of those who act fearlessly.
How about you? What was the last risk you took? What opportunity did you back away from and why? Fear is one of the biggest culprits that holds us back from achieving our wildest (or not so wild) dreams. If this resonates with you, then you might need a healthier relationship with fear.
The term “fear” is often described by the acronym False-Evidence-Appearing-Real. Think of it this way – in our mind, we have conjured up some evidence that we label as real. We might believe that we will fail, be embarrassed, lose everything, be rejected, or worst of all, feel judged for our actions.
Dale Carnegie once said, “inaction breeds doubt and fear.” If that’s the case, then ACTION breeds confidence and courage.
If you’re struggling to overcome fear, digest these steps and start taking action:
1. Get real about what’s at stake.
Ask yourself, “What’s the best that can happen?”, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, and “What is likely to happen?” If you go through these three scenarios, you’ll start to feel the fear slipping away and the confidence immerging. After all, our fears usually seem bigger than their reality of coming true.
2. Move forward, even if it’s a small step.
No substantial change happens overnight. The same can be said about subsiding your fears. Start by researching your dream. Then, gather more information and start to make a plan. Soon enough, you’ll see that your fears don’t seem so scary if you bite them off a little bit at a time.
3. Tell yourself you are successful.
As we discussed in a previous blog, positive affirmation is EVERYTHING. If you believe you can and keep telling yourself that, those fears start to fade away and success comes in to replace it.
Fear of failure is a natural reaction that can be reinforced from an early age. Through many well and not-so-well intended messages, we are taught to stay safe and this can lead to us holding back when we should lay full out. Just the other day I was talking to my 10-year-old daughter who was debating whether she should try out for a solo in an upcoming vocal performance. She was afraid that if she didn’t get a solo people would make fun of her – a very common fear. We talked through the same steps I outlined above and she was able to agree that even if she didn’t get a solo, it would be great practice for the next audition. When she came home the next day she proudly told me that she tried out and got a duet…and 2 speaking roles which she had not anticipated. That’s what often happens when we take risks; we get some or all of what we hope for and MORE.
When I think of the regrets I have in my own life, they are never about the things I did and failed to succeed at. I regret the things I failed to try. The bets I hedged. The things I didn’t say. The people I listened to who told me I was unrealistic. Where do you need to shine the light on false evidence that appears real in your life? What opportunity is calling you to push through the vapor of fear and TRY? When you own your fear and take the steps to break down what’s at stake, you will become more realistic about potential outcomes. Not only will you get a confidence-booster, you will also be more prepared to take risks.
Fear of failure is a career and business limiter of epic proportions. If you are seeking more information and techniques to master your fears and showcase the talented professional you know you can be, consider joining my free Facebook group, Power, Persuasion & Presence. This group is designed to help talented, ambitious professionals and motivated leaders develop the Presence, Power and Persuasion they need to make a positive impact, advance their careers and be successful in executive roles. Click here to request to join