Fear is the Enemy of Self Confidence

I came across a great quote from Bertrand Russell the other day…

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

I agree.  So does Rabbi Levi Brackman.  In his new book, Jewish Wisdom for Business Success, Rabbi Brackman argues that successful people realize that fear, especially fear of the unknown, can be a huge obstacle to success.  He says…

“To start something new, you have to leave something behind.  There is a fear of the unknown.  The first step is to overcome your fear.”

By conquering your fears, you are not only on the path to wisdom, you are on the path to success.  In Straight Talk for Success, I point out that Self Confidence is an important key to success.  If you want to become self confident, you need to do three things: 1) become an optimist; 2) face your fears and act; and 3) surround yourself with positive people.

Fear causes inaction.  When I find myself procrastinating, I always ask, “What are you afraid of here, Bud?”  Once I identify my fear, I can accept it and take action.  Action cures fears.  Inaction and procrastination feed it.

I have found that there are three types of fear that hold me – and most people – back from achieving success.

• Fear of Failure
• Fear of Criticism
• Fear of Rejection

Sharon Melnick writes an interesting blog on SuccessTelevision.com.  She suggests that fear manifests itself as a series of “what ifs.”  “What if I fail?”  “What if people criticize me and my ideas?”  “What if people reject me?”  According to Dr. Melnick, what ifs hold you back by preventing you from testing your comfort zone.  She says that what ifs don't block successful people.  Instead, successful people set up contingency plans in case their worst case scenario what if comes true.
Dr. Melnick says…

“Fear is a natural, evolutionary based response to new situations, but what ifs come from your lack of confidence and lack of self trust.  If you don’t trust yourself to be able to learn and course correct from any mistakes, if you don’t have a secure feeling that ‘no matter what happens, I will make a good situation out of it’, and if you don’t have a strong and accurate appreciation of your own value, then you will feel a need to maintain tight control over and pre-forecast the outcomes of any new step…The most successful people, follow the cliché, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway,’ because they have core confidence underneath their fear.”

The common senses point here is simple.  Facing your fears and taking action will help build your core level of self confidence.  Here are some ideas on how to face your fears.  Focus on the big picture, not the potential for small failures – or small successes for that matter.  Do something.  Follow the principle of kaizen (continuous improvement).  As Sharon Melnick says, “It is better to put out a first iteration and constantly improve it with feedback then to not leave the gate at all.”  Don’t let success go to your head, nor let failure stop you from trying again.  Appreciate your small wins; take motivation from them.  Learn from your small failures.  Use what ifs to develop contingency plans, not to stop you in your tracks.  Don’t focus on what other people think.  Instead focus on what you can do to make your best contribution.  Take a big picture and a long term perspective.  Have faith in your ability to succeed long term.  Don’t let fear paralyze you.  Face your fears.  Act.  Build you self confidence.  Succeed.

That’s my take on how facing your fears and acting can build your self confidence – and success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your personal stories of triumphing over your fears.  We will all learn from them and be inspired by them.  As always, thanks for reading – and commenting. 


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  1. Janet Johnson says:

    Hi Bud. I agree with everything you have said here. Fear will drown you and your life ive learned to face them i feel so much better its not easy but i can tell its going to be worth it. Thank you so much for sharing i really needed this.

  2. Thank you Janet.

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