The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Everyone is afraid of something. Some of us are scared of hairy spiders. Others are afraid of flying. And others are afraid to walk out their front door.
In some instances, fear can be helpful. It keeps us from taunting angry rattlesnakes and dancing on the edge of unstable cliffs. But all too often, fear keeps us from being successful.
In order to get the most out of life, we must understand that fear holds us back. There are risks around every corner, many of which we are blissfully unaware. But if we never take a risk, we’ll never get what we want out of life. This is why we must confront our fears and work to get past them.
Fear of Failure
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
One of the things that keeps would-be entrepreneurs from taking the plunge is a fear of failure. They don’t believe they have what it takes to start and run a successful business, so they keep pressing on at their jobs, even if they hate them. They would rather be financially secure and miserable than take a chance on a business that may or may not take off.
Those who have chosen to buck the system and start a business are not immune to fear either. They may shy away from proposing joint ventures because they feel certain that rejection is imminent. They might avoid pursuing leads for fear of being turned down. Whatever the case may be, fear keeps them from moving forward.
People who are afraid of failure often do not even realize that’s the problem. For those suffering from a severe lack of confidence, the idea that they will fail at everything may be so deeply ingrained in their subconscious that they aren’t consciously aware of it. If you seem to be sabotaging your own efforts, it’s crucial to look deep inside yourself and determine whether fear of failure is the problem.
Whether your fear of failure is obvious to you and everyone else or camouflaged by something else, you must confront it in order to move ahead. Try making a list of the mistakes you’re afraid of making, then file it away for about a week. Take it out and look at it again, and you’ll probably find that many of your concerns sound rather silly.
It’s important to acknowledge that the things you fear could happen. They could also not happen. Just remember that if you don’t try, you have a 100% chance of not succeeding.
Fear of Success
On the flip side, some would-be entrepreneurs are afraid of success. It sounds completely illogical, but it’s actually quite common.
Why would anyone be afraid to succeed? There are several reasons. These include:
You don’t want to leave your comfort zone. The status quo could be good or bad, but we often fear leaving it for unknown territory.
You think it will be too difficult. Starting and running a successful business is hard work, and we may not feel up to the task.
People will raise their expectations of you. If you succeed, you’ll be under pressure from others (not to mention yourself) to maintain that level of success. What if you can’t do it?
You worry that you will succeed in the wrong area. What if it turns out that you don’t enjoy the field you choose as much as you thought you would?
You think success will change you, or change others’ perceptions of you. You may fear losing your friends or becoming arrogant due to your achievements.
You feel that you’re not worthy of success, even if you are capable of attaining it. This is another possible manifestation of low self-esteem.
Fear of success is often far less apparent than fear of failure. No one says to himself, I would really hate to succeed in life. And in most cases, it’s not the success itself that we fear, but the side effects of it.
Let’s address each of the aforementioned reasons one by one:
Your comfort zone may be comfortable, but it’s rarely the best place to be. If it were so wonderful, you wouldn’t be considering something else.
Entrepreneurship requires hard work and commitment. But if you want to start a business badly enough, you can do it. The rewards will be well worth your trouble.
Pressure to succeed is not such a bad thing. There’s always the chance that you might not maintain your success for one reason or another, but is that any reason to not even try?
Starting a successful business doesn’t sentence you to a life of doing that and only that. If you find that the field you chose isn’t for you, you can always sell the business and move on to something else. At least you’ll have some startup capital to work with.
True friends will cheer you on when you succeed. And success isn’t an instant personality changer. You are in control of your own reaction to your accomplishments.
ou are worthy of success. If you can achieve it, then you deserve it.
Recognizing a fear of success is difficult, but doing so is the only way to get past it. The upshot is that once it’s out in the open, it’s not too hard to see why there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Don’t Let Fear Stand in Your Way
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear is something we all experience from time to time. And sometimes our fears come true. But if no one ever took a chance, the world would be a very unimaginative and static place.
If you let fear hold you back, you’ll never know what might have been. And that’s something to truly be afraid of.