No matter how strong your ambition and intentions, they can be derailed by your fears. “We all have fears and there’s no way to escape it,” says former corporate lawyer and now entrepreneur Romi Neustadt in her book You Can Have it All, Just Not at the Same Damn Time.
She interviewed 30 entrepreneurs – a group generally seen as more fearless than the rest of us – and a list of 59 fears bubbled forth, with the overwhelming majority reporting at least four. There was fear of failure and fear of success. Fear of not being good enough and of being too good. Even fear of fear.
She tries to lean into her fear instead of trying to ignore it. She has learned that fear is a signal she is actually onto something good – on the right path. So what’s scaring you is pushing you out of your comfort zone and that’s a positive not negative situation.
Here’s her five-step process for leaning into those fears:
- Identify the fear and label it.
- Ask why you’re afraid. This will take some courage to be honest about the reasons behind the fear.
- Ask what’s the worst possible thing that could happen – the ultimate, even if seemingly outlandish, dreadful outcome.
- Declare what you know to be true. Jettison emotions; focus on the facts.
- Ask what the best possible outcome is. Now you will be focusing on possibilities.
Consultant Alan Weiss offers another perspective, asking you to distinguish between real fear and fraudulent fear. Real fear is facing a tornado, illness or mugger. Fraudulent fear is facing “the little guy on your shoulder” whispering in your ear that you’re not good enough, should feel guilty, or don’t deserve what you have.
He notes in Fearless Leadership that amongst the baggage we carry is the notion that errors are fatal, perfection is the norm, or recovery from a setback is impossible. Low self-esteem can lead us to feel we’re imposters – not worthy.
He echoes Ms. Neustadt by urging you to examine your belief system, articulate the fear and its origins, and examine whether the beliefs you hold are still valid. “Focus on the fact that a great deal of fear is self-induced,” he says.
Ms. Neustadt urges you to confront the notion you can’t have it all. That comes from a scarcity mindset – a mistaken belief you don’t have the abilities or the time or the energy to reach for more.
“I’ve come to learn that each of us have everything we need to become the people we are meant to be and to live the lives we desire – if and only if we’re willing to do the learning and growing and heavy lifting required to get there. I also know that each of us has enough time if we spend it on the things that we’ve declared important to us. We have more than enough energy, if we protect ourselves from everything and everyone who drains us,” she insists in her book.
The fifth step in her approach is about the possibilities. That’s true here: She is scared about not living the life she was meant to be and you should be as well. Yes, it will take some bravery to declare what’s important to you and to go after it, fully, every day. Indeed, she asks you to make your biggest fear what you’ll miss out on if you don’t make better choices, find your voice, and go after your dreams.
So fight fear.
- Remember, your resume is not a tattoo. Nor is your LinkedIn profile. Career adviser Jenny Foss says they should be treated as living, breathing changeable documents throughout your job search and career.
- Research shows that there’s an up-side to being an underdog. When expectations about people are low, that spurs them on to prove others wrong and perform better.
- Good conversational question when someone is pushing an idea: “How did that become important to you?” Leadership coach Dan Rockwell says it shows respect, an openness to explore, and a willingness to learn. “Why is that important?” may seem similar but can feel like an accusation.
- The most dangerous items on your to-do list according to blogger James Clear are items that look like opportunities but are actually distractions.
- Research indicates that when you face a meeting where you expect conflict you will prepare more carefully and the decision will be better.
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