Rising Star Systems

Solution #7: Fear of Success or Failure

What it feels like:

You can’t seem to get past the first big hurdle – FEAR – It grips you like a cold metal fist in your gut.

It feels like a vicious circle and you just don’t know how to break free.

  • You’re afraid to say what you really want, because what if you achieve it and find out it’s not what you want?
  • You try to put yourself out there, but every time you freeze and stumble and terrified you might look foolish.
  • You’ve got a very loud “What IF?” gremlin in your head predicting everything that can go wrong and he paralyzes you.
  • You take the action – you do what you fear – but it’s like pulling teeth, EVERY TIME.  And you’re exhausted.
  • You do all the right things, meet all the right people, but underneath it all, you don’t believe you could possibly succeed and you feel like a fraud – you live in fear that they’ll find out what a fraud you really are. And somehow, things just don’t work out.

Fear has many faces and can often be well disguised. Sometimes it looks like procrastination or avoidance. Sometimes it looks like perfectionism.  But the motivating factor for the behavior (or lack of behavior) is the same – FEAR.

You avoid making that phone call, taking the action, writing the song, pursuing the opportunity with the excuse – “Now just isn’t the right time” or “I have other priorities.”

But the truth is –  IT’S JUST FEAR.

And so you avoid making the call, because you can fool yourself that the opportunity is still waiting and still could be a yes. But actually, you’re already saying no to the opportunity. You’re saying no by taking NO ACTION.

Or you work on something for hours and hours when it was done well enough in the first 15 minutes. You have to make it absolutely perfect. Because if it’s not ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, then __________ (fill in your worst nightmare). But really you avoid finishing, because then you’ll have to take the action that really scares you.

And so, you can stay safe in your striving for perfection and tell yourself that you’re working really hard. But actually, you’re staying safe and not really moving towards your goals.

Success Solution:

Let’s talk about what fear is. It is an emotion.  Why is it so different from other emotions?  Because it became an evolutionary advantage to hardwire fear into your biological systems.  You’ve heard of fight or flight, right?  Well, feeling fear triggers the physiological fight or flight pathways.  As a result, it doesn’t feel like an emotion as much as an overwhelming, physiological experience.

And this is really important – it doesn’t matter if it’s fear of success, fear of failure, or fear of spiders – because it’s an emotion.  You will want to discover the belief that underlies the fear in order to address that.  But the point I want to make here is that what you’re afraid of doesn’t matter, not really.  Because it’s an emotion – it’s not TRUTH.

So, if fear is an emotion, then we can use Emotional Intelligence Skills to manage fear.  But the most important thing to remember is that emotion is information and energy. Most people simply react to the energy.  But the trick is to look at the information it’s giving you.  By information, I don’t mean TRUTH.  I mean information about you, about your beliefs and expectations.

For example, what if you look at the fear, and the information you get is “If I go to that audition, I will fall on my face!” Use that information. Prepare for the audition. Think about the skills you have, the work you’ve done on your material and if it’s not strong enough, keep working on it. Rehearse it. Get objective feedback from someone whose opinion you trust.  Take a class to build your audition skills.

But most importantly go to that audition. In fact, go to so many auditions that any one of them won’t matter. No one audition will make or break your career – unless you let it.

The short term solution for fear is action.

Use the energy of the fear to propel you into action.

Here’s my model: If contemplation of an action creates fear in me, then I take the action. Now, I’m not talking about survival fear – like walking in a bad neighborhood at 3:00 AM. I’m talking about making that phone call that’s going to push your career forward.

“Fear is excitement without breath.” Fritz Perls

So take a deep breath and do what you fear until you fear it no more. Do it a lot!! Make those cold calls. You will find that it’s like doing reps of an exercise. The more reps you do over time, the easier they become. The weight of the phone is the same. But as you exercise that muscle, the phone will seem to get lighter and lighter.

The long term solution is more complex.

Because all emotions are created by beliefs.  So the long term solution to fear is to shift the beliefs that are creating the fear. It’s true that the more you take an action that you fear, the easier it gets.

And as long as the fear generating belief is running the show, it may still take a lot of energy to overcome that fear, every time.  That can become quite exhausting and lead to burn-out. Coaching, NLP and Hypnosis can help you shift those beliefs and move through the fear in several ways:

  1. I can offer an objective voice when looking at the fears and help you discover what the underlying beliefs are that are creating those fears.
  2. Once you’ve identified what the beliefs are, there are several techniques that we can use to shift those beliefs, including NLP and Hypnosis.
  3. In coaching, you will make a commitment to take specific actions.  When you make a commitment to take a scary action to someone else, it makes it easier to take that action.
  4. We will celebrate and learn from your actions – so that you can hone and polish your skills and feel more confident taking those scary actions.

Remember, taking action is cumulative. The more you take, the easier it gets. And the more you have support behind you, encouraging you, the less scary the actions look.  And it’s really fun to come back to your coach and share what happened when you took that scary action. We can laugh and celebrate it together.

In coaching you will be committing to and taking actions every week, some of them quite scary. But think of the energy that will generate for you. Think of the confidence you’ll develop when you do the courageous thing. And the more steps you take, the closer you get to your dreams.

Recommended Actions

  1. Purchase The Power of Focusing and use this process when you’re feeling fear, or even when you’re feeling resistant or reluctant and don’t know why.
  2. Take one risk every day – one act of courage.  Please don’t risk your physical or mental health!!  I’m talking about making the call, taking the action, grabbing for the opportunity NOT jumping out of the plane!
  3. Keep a fear journal – This is a journal where you write down what action you’re afraid of taking and what happens when you take that action. You can start with small fears. The key piece of this is to compare what you were afraid would happen and what actually happened and now, how do you feel having taken that action. What have you learned, looking at the reality compared to the imagined result.
  4. Keep an accomplishment journal – track and give yourself credit for all your accomplishments, big and small.

Additional Resources:

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