We can never outperform the limits set by our fears.
By Gordon Tredgold
Your fears can be the biggest barriers to your success.
They can stop you from going after what you truly desire; they can make you believe that your chances of success are so small that you don't even try. Fears are complex; they're cunning, they can be deep-seated, and they are often subconscious, which can mean that you are not always aware of what it is that is holding you back.
In her excellent book Fight the Fear, Mandie Holgate highlights 12 fears you need to overcome to remove your negative mindset and win in life. For each fear, Mandie offers practical exercises to help you get beyond it so you can pursue and achieve your goals.
Too often people hide who they really are, what they really want, or what they really enjoy in life for fear that other people may not approve. The reality is, not everyone wants to be a multimillionaire or a CEO of a major corporation. Some people are quite happy to live what could be considered an unambitious life. But chasing someone else's dream is never going to lead to your happiness. You need to understand your values, be true to yourself, and not worry about what other people think. Go after what pleases you, and what you are passionate about.
People that set the wrong goals or hesitate to set any goals end up procrastinating and invariably don't get the results at work they desire. I see this fear manifest itself with so many professional people as negative feelings, results, and actions.
And all because they fear setting goals.
If you don't set goals, then it's impossible to create a solid action plan to achieve what you want to achieve. Without a plan, you're pinning your hopes on luck, and hoping to be lucky is not a smart strategy.
Fear 3 - Don't believe you can succeed
Fear of failure stops far too many people from even attempting to achieve their goals. But there are a couple of things for you to remember. First, many a path to success is littered with mistakes and failures; it goes with the territory. Second, so what if you fail? Do you really know the consequences of failing and are they really that bad? For many of my coaching clients who have this fear of failure, the impact of failure would often be negligible--maybe a little bit of embarrassment, possibly a waste of some time and or resources.
To get over the fear of failure, ask yourself, "So, what if I do fail?" What is the worst that can happen? If the reality is "Not a lot," which is often the case with my coaching clients, then dive in, give it a shot.
Don't let just the fear of failing hold you back.
Success doesn't sit comfortably with everyone, myself included. It can sometimes feel as if we have become above our station, that by claiming our success we are looking to put ourselves above others, which can then be perceived as arrogance. This perception can often limit the goals that we set for ourselves, for fear of separating ourselves from the herd. There is nothing arrogant about achieving your full potential.
Don't let the limitations of others become the limits that you set for yourself.
Fear 5 - I don't ask for help
There are a number of reasons why people don't ask for help. Fear of rejection; they don't want to appear stupid; they worry it will undermine their achievements; they don't want people to know they are struggling. The reality is, very few people achieve great success without the support and assistance of others. Often people are willing to help if we will just reach out and ask them.
Asking for help is something I have really struggled with, mostly because of a fear of rejection, but I read the book, looked at the strategies proposed, and decided to give it a try. Recently, I posted a simple request on Facebook for some help with sales and marketing. Within 20 minutes, I had four offers of help.
Normally, I would have just soldiered on, struggling. But several friends were happy to help and wondered why I had never asked before.
You probably have more help available than you know. You just need to reach out and ask.
When you don't say no to others, then you can be saying no to yourself. You need to learn to be fair to yourself. If a request distracts you from your goal, then politely say no or offer to help at a time that best suits you. There are plenty of people who will let you quit on your goals to help them achieve theirs.
You also need to make sure you are clear and focused on your objectives so you can say yes to the right opportunities, those that will lead to your desired success. There will always be new opportunities that will arise, and you need to be comfortable saying no to those that are not aligned with your priorities. It can be easy to become distracted, especially if those opportunities have short-term benefits.
Fear 7 - I'm petrified of public speaking
In most careers, at some time you are going to have to give a presentation, make a speech, or speak to a group of your employees, especially as you start to make progress up the ranks. For many, public speaking is one of their greatest fears. I've heard people say they would rather have a root canal than stand up and speak in public. It's actually something I struggled with for a while, even though I am now an international keynote speaker. Some of the things you can do to help get over the fear are:
- Practice. But don't overdo it, because you want to sound natural, not scripted
- Keep the talk simple--don't use much jargon unless you have to
- Be confident about your right to be in the room or on the stage. You have earned it
- Don't worry about forgetting something. Probably only you would notice anyway
- Don't use notes unless you really have to
This is definitely a problem if you're involved with sales or business development. While you might not be looking to do a sales pitch on the phone, you may need to call a client to arrange a visit or an appointment to discuss how you can help.
Personally, I hate calling, especially cold calling. But having read Mandie's book, I realize it's because I hate to disturb people or waste their time.
Using one of Mandie's techniques, now, before each call, I focus on what the client will get out of the call, how the client will benefit. Doing this takes away my fear and helps me get a mutually beneficial conversation started.
Fear 9 - I don't want to look stupid
Being successful can often require us to go against the flow, to challenge the current way of doing things and try something different. But if it goes wrong, it can lead to ridicule from others.
I'm old enough to remember when Dick Fosbury changed high jumping forever. I remember watching him run toward the bar and then turn and jump over the bar backward. It looked completely crazy, and many of the commentators questioned his bizarre technique.
Fosbury didn't care that he looked stupid. He persisted and had the last laugh by winning the 1968 Mexico Olympics high jump gold medal, and gave the Fosbury Flop to the world.
At the Mexico Olympics, he was the only person to use that technique. At every major high jump event since, that has been the predominant technique used.
Dare to be different. It could lead to amazing success!
Fear 10 - I can't stop scrutinising what people are thinking
Acceptance from others is a strong desire that many people have, and it can cause us to question the things we do by wondering what other people are thinking: about us, about our businesses, our plans, and our goals. I know this can cause many of my coaching clients to put off making decisions or taking actions.
The reality is that most people are too busy worrying about their own problems to be scrutinising what others are doing.
Second, who cares? We have enough of our own negative thoughts to deal with without adding other people's potential negativity to our list of obstacles to overcome.
Keep focused on your goal, and don't worry about the thoughts of others. The right people will be supportive of you, and those who aren't shouldn't be the people you pay attention to.
Fear 11 - I'm scared to ask for what I want
Practically every entrepreneur I have ever coached was under pricing his or her services. One client I had was charging $225 per hour for his service, and was keen to get $350 per hour but didn't think his clients would pay it. It was amazing when you looked at the value he provided; he had optimised a company's recruitment process, reducing costs by 33 percent, and at the same time increased productivity by 75 percent. This saved the company around $300,000 per year as well as nearly doubled its results. From a value perspective, my client could have been charging $1,000 per hour, and it still would have been a bargain.
Too many people think about their costs and their hourly rate, and it stops them from not only asking for what they want but also for what they are worth.
Think about the value you bring, the results you will generate for your client, and price yourself accordingly.
Fear 12 - I can't take time out
Business can be very demanding, especially when it comes to the amount of our personal time that it can consume. I can remember the days when being a workaholic meant that you stayed at the office until 7 or 8 p.m., or brought work home on the weekend. But now, since the rise of the laptop, the internet, and the mobile phone and the world becoming more global, being available on call or online 24/7 feels more like the norm. What opportunities we will miss if we take time out? How will our businesses function if we are not available for each and every crisis?
To live a healthy, happy life, we need to have great work-life balance.
It's natural to think that we are indispensable, but the reality is, we're not. People will always find a way to cope, and there will always be more opportunities.
I worked for one of the largest companies in the world, one whose business was dependent on information technology, and our CIO used to turn his phone off at 7 every evening. He said he had complete confidence in his staff, they knew far more than he did, and if it was truly an emergency, they knew where he lived.
We make ourselves indispensable, but we can find a way to step back and take time out if we really want to.
The more of these fears you can overcome, the more business and personal success you can achieve. It's not easy. Many fears are deep rooted. But if we consciously work on them, we can make improvements.
Which fears impact you and your business the most?