Successful People Face — and Slay Their Personal Jabberwockies

Like about a zillion other people, I went to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D over the weekend.  Tim Burton did a good job directing an enjoyable film. 

But as a career success coach, I’m always looking for messages that relate to my message on career success.  I found it near the end of the film.  If you’ve read Alice in Wonderland, you know that the White Queen tells her “Some days I believe in six impossible things before breakfast.”  I don’t want to spoil the end of the film for you, but in this version Alice has to do battle with the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky, a very fearsome character.  As she prepares to fight the creature, she lists out loud six impossible things in which she believes.  The last is, “I will slay the Jabberwocky.”  Because this is a fairy tale and the good guys always win in fairy tales, I don’t think I’m giving anything away by telling you that she succeeds.  Alice slays the Jabberwocky – in pretty dramatic fashion.

There is a career success point here.  We all have our personal Jabberwockies – things we think we can’t do, things that scare us.   Sometimes these things scare us so much we don’t even try. 

Self confidence is one of the four keys to career success that make up my Career Success GPS System.  Self confident people share three traits in common: they are optimistic, they face their fears and act, and they surround themselves with positive people. 

In my forthcoming book Career Success GPS, I mention that fear is the enemy of self confidence.  Think of your fears as your personal Jabberwockies.  As a career success coach, I tell my clients that procrastination is the manifestation of fear.   When I find myself procrastinating, I stop and ask myself “What are you afraid of here, Bud?”

Usually, the answer is one of the 12 most common fears on the list below.  Which of these stop you from moving forward?   What are you doing about them?

  1. Fear of failure – This type of fear has its roots in the misconception that everything you do has to be 100% successful.
  2. Fear of success – This type of fear is based on the idea that success is likely to mean more responsibility and attention, coupled with pressure to continue to perform at a high level.
  3. Fear of being judged – This type of fear comes from the need for approval that most people develop in childhood.
  4. Fear of emotional pain – This type of fear is rooted in wanting to avoid potential negative consequences of your actions.
  5. Fear of embarrassment – This type of fear is a result of empowering others to judge you when you demonstrate that you’re only human by making mistakes and having lapses of judgment.
  6. Fear of being abandoned or being alone – This type of fear is related to rejection and low self esteem.
  7. Fear of rejection – This type of fear comes from personalizing what others do and say.
  8. Fear of expressing your true feelings – This type of fear holds you back from engaging in open, honest dialogue with the people in your life.
  9. Fear of intimacy – This type of fear manifests itself by an unwillingness to let others get too close, less they discover the “real you.”
  10. Fear of the unknown – This type of fear manifests itself as needless worry about all of the bad things that could happen if you decide to make a change in your life.
  11. Fear of loss – This type of fear is related to the potential pain associated with no longer having something or someone of emotional significance to you.
  12. Fear of death – The ultimate fear of the unknown.  What will happen once our spirits leave our bodies?

By identifying your fear, you are more than half way to conquering it. 

Here are my best tips for doing battle with your fears and slaying your personal Jabberwockies. 

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 fears.  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 fears.  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.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are self confident.  Self confident people face their fears and act.  Action is the antidote to fear.   In the newly released 3D version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice was afraid, but she picked up her sword and did battle with the fearsome Jabberwocky.  You need to do the same.  In most cases, just like Alice you’ll succeed and your fears won’t be realized. In the cases where things don’t work out, you’ll find that failure isn’t as catastrophic as you imagined. Successful people learn from their failures. Take it from an old career success coach, by taking action on your fears, by doing battle with your personal Jabberwocky’s, you win on both counts. You win if you make good decisions 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 actions and the subsequent problems you faced.

That’s my take on Alice in Wonderland and facing your fears.  What’s yours?  Please take a moment to leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  As always, thanks for reading.  And, keep slaying those Jabberwockies.


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