Success and Overcoming Fear

Self confidence is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to become self confident you need to do three things.  First, become an optimist.  Second, face your fears and act.  Third, surround yourself with positive people.

The other say I saw a great tweet by Stephen Pierce (@stephen_pierce) that was retweeted by Stephanie Frank (@stephaniefrank)…

“The only shortcut to success is to start right now.  Delays in starting, equal delays in arriving.” 

I like this tweet.  It gets at one of the points I like to make about self confidence.  Self confident people act.  They don’t procrastinate.

I have found that procrastination and fear are intertwined.   When I realize that I am procrastinating, I ask myself a simple question, “What are you afraid of here, Bud?”  Usually the answer is, “I’m afraid of failing,” or “I’m afraid of rejection.”

Fear of failure and rejection will hinder your self confidence.  They will cause you to procrastinate – to avoid taking the actions that will lead to your success.  As Stephen Pierce suggests, “Delays in starting, equal delays in arriving” at your goal.

Here’s what I do to conquer my fears that lead to procrastination…

Identify what you fear.  Figure out why you’re afraid. Is it fear of failure?  Is it fear of making the wrong decision?  Is it fear of a lost opportunity?  Are you afraid that you aren’t up to task?  Once you identify the reason behind your fear, you are well on the way to overcoming it.

Admit your fear.  It’s OK to be afraid. You wouldn’t be human if you were never afraid. A common definition of courage is the ability to feel fear and still do what you need to do regardless. In 1988, I faced a very frightening decision. Should I stay in a comfortable but ultimately unsatisfying job with a large corporation, or should I start my own business?  I was afraid of failing. Failing meant that I would lose my savings and have to start over again, looking for a job in another corporation. However, once I identified and admitted my fear, I was able to take the next step – acceptance.

Accept your fear.  Accepting your fears is important, because it shows that you know you’re human. Once I accepted that I was afraid of failing, I was able to start my business and succeed. In fact, I embraced my fear of failure. It made me work harder; it pushed me to work the long hours and learn the entrepreneurship lessons necessary to be successful as a self employed coach, consultant and speaker.

Take action. Action cures fear.  It is the most important of these four steps. Do something! The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll find it was the wrong thing to do – and you will have eliminated at least one thing from your list of possible actions. Action is the antidote to fear. In most cases, you’ll choose wisely and your fears won’t be realized. In the cases when you choose poorly, you’ll find that failure isn’t as catastrophic as you imagined. Successful people learn from their failures. By taking action on your fears, you win on both counts. You win if you make a good decision and things work out. You even win if you make a bad decision and things go poorly, because you have an opportunity to learn from your decision and the subsequent problems you faced.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are self confidence.  Self confident people don’t let their fears get in the way of their success.  They face their fears and take action.  Fear often manifests itself as procrastination.  When you feel yourself procrastinating, take four small, but powerful steps.  1) Identify the fear behind your procrastination.  2) Admit to your fear.  3) Accept your fear.  4) Take action to defeat your fear.  Action is the antidote to fear.

That’s my take on action and fear.  What’s yours?  How have you conquered some of your fears?  Please take a few minutes and share your story with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.


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