They say the only thing to fear is fear itself. Okay, there may be many other things to keep a wary eye out for, but there is no denying fear’s undermining power to derail you. Fear is debilitating. Just the mere hint of fear can prevent you taking action, or hinder you from doing your best.
One of the reasons women don’t succeed in business is not the fact they actually feel fearful, rather that they let that fear control their thoughts and therefore restrict their actions.
Remember that fear is one of our primal emotions. It tells us to be cautious, but if we let it stop us from achieving, it will kill our chances of success. Embrace it as an alert system, but learn to work with it … identify and analyse your fears, then push on regardless. Fear leads to failure in so many unfortunate ways.
Fear of failure
The most common form of fear for the career or business woman is fear of failure. A simple “but what if it doesn’t work out” can prevent a woman turning her much loved hobby into a successful small business, or from taking on an interesting role.
Compounding this fear is the fact women see the smallest of actions that don’t go according to plan as a massive failure — when in fact everyone goes through this process on their journey to ultimate success.
The fear of failure is also the reason women don’t take calculated risks. The fear that people will laugh at them if something doesn’t go right, leaving them well behind those who are taking risks and ultimately getting the pay off.
Yes you read that correctly. Women love the idea of success and all the trimmings that come with it. However, deep down, the idea of such success would mean their world as they know it would completely change. They may lose their friends (you, know, Tall Poppy Syndrome when other women don’t want you to succeed more than them) or they may have to maintain a successful business to keep the new standard of living. It is easier for a woman to remain where she is comfortable. Success means change. Both are challenging, but you should not let fear of either block your path.
Fear of not knowing
Not knowing what you need to know can be a pretty scary feeling and can prevent you from expanding your business or trying something no-one else has done before.
It is this “new” idea that no-one else has done that may be the one thing that takes you to the next stage in business.
If you don’t know something that you feel you need to then simply ask. Do your research, ask questions and pay for experts if required.
Everybody goes through this as they gain experience. The first step in overcoming fear of not knowing is to start asking – you’ll probably get so absorbed in finding the answers, you’ll forget to be afraid.
How to fight fear
The fastest most successful way to fight fear is to starve it.
Take note of what situations you are in, or what thought process you start, that results in feelings of fear. Then train yourself to remove yourself from the situation immediately or change your thought process by replacing it with something productive.
For example, if you discuss your potential business decisions with all your friends and they start questioning your choices and doubting your ability – causing you to start feeling fear — then you may want to choose one or two trusted business advisors instead.
If being flooded with other people’s perceived successes on social media makes you start to fear failure in making your own business decisions, limit how much time you spend online. Focus on your decisions in their own frame of reference, not in comparison to the airbrushed life of social media.
If you find that trying to keep track of all your projects is causing ‘deadline stress’ and fear, find a better way to organize and prioritise them.
Essentially, identify your fear, address it — and overcome it.