Fear. It cuts like a knife and goes way too deep for far too many people. It can severely impact your ability to achieve personal or professional goals, experience happiness or develop a meaningful career. How you deal with it – or not – will impact your ability to achieve and sustain success.While anxiety and depression can make fear feel like a best friend, disappointment and regret can make it feel like an enemy. Whatever you know about fear, you are likely to know that, rational or irrational, it has the ability to cause extreme fight or flight reactions – even complete inaction – to circumstances and events. Still, like an old, familiar friend, some of us are hard pressed to let it go.
Neuropsychologist Theo Tsaousides says in Psychology Today that, “when the fear is overwhelming, you experience fright: You neither fight nor flee; in fact, you do nothing.” I can certainly attest to this from professional and personal experience. For more than two decades, I’ve served in roles to include a social worker, business educator, management consultant, executive coach, chief executive and keynote speaker, and people from all over the globe have felt safe to share their fears and anxieties with me. I’ve also had to overcome my own fears and demonstrate the mental fortitude to be truly successful.
Success is predicated upon an ability to understand and appreciate fear. And before experiencing success, we need to figure out how to overcome these three specific fears for long-term personal and career success.
If every single human being could voluntarily decide to stand in one of two lines, one for failure and one for success, I’m willing to bet everything I have that there would be very few people (if any at all) in the line for failure. From the youngest of ages, we are taught to go out into the world and succeed. We are taught that success is better than failure. We are taught that winners succeed and losers fail.
After years of programming, it becomes abundantly clear that failure brings disappointment, shame, embarrassment or humiliation while success brings honor, praise, pride and dignity. Naturally, we start to have an aversion to failure. But having an aversion to failure isn’t the same as having a paralyzing fear of it. People with an overwhelming fear of failure do things like
I don’t know anyone who’s actually okay with rejection. Most of us want some level of acceptance from others, and this is normal. But there is a big difference between being uncomfortable with rejection and being so afraid of it that you let it stop you cold from achieving personal or professional success.
Ultimately, fear of rejection is a reflection of the anxiety you have with not being accepted. It is an indication that you may have an excessive need to belong or an excessive fear of being judged or ridiculed. People with an overwhelming fear of rejection do things like
Say it ain’t so. How can anyone be afraid of success? Fear of success is real. Some people have a crippling fear of success and are more afraid to succeed than they are to fail. Success means change, and it can bring an unwelcomed spotlight of attention and many new detractors. The more successful you become, the more you get noticed. While getting noticed often brings on more admirers, it also brings on more haters.
Another reason people fear success is that it creates new standards and expectations, and people get stressed about how to manage those standards and expectations. When you succeed, you raise the bar. Others start to expect more from you and hold you accountable for higher levels of performance than you were delivering prior to the successful project, initiative or activity. The fear of success is about fearing pressure and resisting accountability. It is a fear of new attention and expectations.
Even though success can bring honor, praise and pride, it also brings anxiety and new accountabilities. This can become debilitating. People with an overwhelming fear of success do things like
Although these three fears are challenging, they are rather normal and common. Successful people experience many of the same fears as everyone else. The difference is that successful people don’t let it become so overwhelming that the fear negatively impacts their personal or professional success.
Here are four categories of specific things you can do to overcome the fear of failure, the fear of rejection and the fear of success.
This was created by Brian Tracy, author and consultant, to help with overcoming fear of failure and rejection.
I highly recommend that you apply the action steps above so that you can manage – even overcome – your fears and achieve the personal and professional success you want.