What holds us back the most in our professional lives is often our fears. Recognizing and learning how to lean into our fears head on is an important step towards achieving our goals and realizing our full potential.
Here are some of the most common fears that limit us:
1. Fear of Failure: This one is the most obvious. We’ve all had the little voice in our head that says but what if I fail? What if I invested my time, energy and passion into something that doesn’t work? In my years of dealing with athletes and coaches, I’ve noticed that the majority of the most successful ones possess “fearlessness” as a trait and I believe it’s a big reason they are able to perform at the highest level. Failure can be healthy when we treat it as a learning process. Step into something you fear, even if just a little step, and allow that experience to serve as a building block to confront more fears.
2. Fear of Success: Ironically, fear of success is as commonplace and self-limiting as fear of failure, but often goes undetected. There is a quote that sums it up: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Fear of success make us avoid taking risks and oftentimes keeps us “stuck” in one place. It can be rooted in a number of things- fear of what success will bring, fear of the additional pressure and scrutiny, fear of reaching the top and falling from it. The most important way to deal with this fear is to first recognize it and then assess the roots of the fear and the potential outcomes. Visualizing your success, especially if you start out with small “successes,” can also mentally prepare you to be ready for it.
3. Fear of Change: There is a saying the only thing that’s constant is change. So why is change such a scary thing? I remember a Major League Baseball player that I represented getting the news that he was being traded. He had been with the same team for his entire career and it was an unexpected move. When he called to tell me the news, I could hear the fear in his voice. I told him “Wow, that’s great news. This is what you need.” And we talked about the positives and how this could be a great career move. He told me thank you years later. He said that he didn’t know how to deal with the thought of being traded but that my reaction made him respond differently. It was what he needed at that moment. Don’t miss out on opportunities just due to the change factor. Learn to think about the positives and see the opportunities where you might normally dismiss them.
4. Fear of Vulnerability: Vulnerability is a scary word when it comes to our professional lives. But I would argue that willingness to be vulnerable is the key to authenticity and leadership. Exposing your true self can be scary, but offers greater rewards. Being vulnerable allows the opportunity to connect, allows for feedback and promotes growth, and helps you better relate with the people around you. Expressing vulnerability actually requires great strength. Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake or hear criticism. Without getting out of your comfort zone, you can never grow.
Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.