Posts Tagged ‘Fear Of Failure’
Should you set big fat hairy audacious goals or stick to the reasonable, more easily achieved variety?
Many interviews with highly successful people reveal that they set themselves huge goals, fired by a burning desire to achieve something specific and that these goals determine their direction and purpose in life and colour all their decisions and actions.
They also freely admit that when they set these goals it’s usually without any clear idea of how to achieve them.
What they do have however, is an unwavering belief that they CAN.
What happens is that when a goal excites you enough, you start to live every day in a way that makes it possible to achieve it and obstacles don’t seem so daunting. Setting reasonable goals rarely leads to that sense of excitement so there isn’t the same incentive to overcome obstacles and the goals just becomes another “so what?”
All great achievements begin with an idea, a want, a longing, a desire.
While she was still Posh Spice, Victoria Adams said she wanted to be “more famous than Persil”. As Mrs Victoria Beckham she got her desire but many of our wants and longings never get past the wishing and dreaming stage.
If you’ve ever had your dream laughed at, if you’ve been told to ‘get real’, keep your feet on the floor, your shoulder to the wheel and your nose to the grindstone (ouch!) you’ve probably let go of that dream and it may now be just a vague longing.
How would you feel if you re-ignited that flame? What’s stopping you from blowing on the coals of your burning desire and setting off on an adventure of achievement?
My guess is, that interfering with your thinking, your determination and your belief is a very small word called FEAR. It may be fear of failure, fear of success or simply a series of “what if’s?”
Fear is a tricky emotion. Most of the people who have achieved big fat hairy audacious goals say that the magnitude of what they were trying to achieve scared them – but they did it anyway.
If you knew that you could not possibly fail, what would you attempt?
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Franklin D Roosevelt
You don’t have to look far to find something to be afraid of – the internet is full of dire warnings and also, strangely enough, its also full of people who’d like to sell you the things that can protect you from the very things of which they tried to make you afraid.
Newspapers TV and radio are no better except that they often seem to peddle fear just for the hell of it, under the guise of ‘news’.
Everyone must, at some time in their lives, have experienced the gut wrenching, heart stopping sensation that we call fear and yet, for all the scary stuff that is manufactured by others we are the main culprit when it comes to creating our own fears.
It is the thing that most people acknowledge is the major factor that holds them back from achieving their full potential and they give it all sorts of names: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of losing what they’ve got, fear of the unknown, etc., etc., etc.
What are most people afraid of?
Writing at the end of the Great Depression in 1937, Napoleon Hill suggests that most people have six basic fears. They are: fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age and death.
When questioned if these are still relevant today, it was fear of poverty that caused the most dissent amongst a group of business owners. There was a strong argument that in our modern Western world, poverty is a relative term, even when we have lost all our material possessions. However, there was an equally strong argument that it is this fear of losing everything that is the biggest driver in our society, especially for people in business who seek to create a sense of security by being in control of their own means of earning a living.
Looking at Hill’s list again, all those fears related to losing something: our material possessions, pride, independence, status, love, connection, and of course, life itself.
What became clear is that almost every feeling of fear we experience is the result of an IMAGINED situation, not a real one.
Moreover, in almost every case, the imagined situation that we most fear never happens.
When a situation that we had feared actually materialised, most of us dealt with it without any real consequences.
Beyond the survival instincts that keep us safe, there appears to be only one real fear and that is the fear that we won’t be able to handle whatever happens to us. The fact that most people do handle even the most horrendous occurrences indicates that most fear, which usually concerns a future event that never happens, is completely unnecessary.
Bob Newhart had his own suggestion for how to deal with this:
In all the suggestions that proliferate in how to deal with the physical symptoms of fear (usually manifested as stress) no one mentions, booze, sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll but I’m guessing that at some point, most people will use at least one of these in an attempt to banish fears and anxiety.
The thing that everyone agreed on was what doesn’t work is trying to ignore it, suppress it or pretending the fear doesn’t exist. This can often result in real physical damage – perhaps that’s why booze, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll weren’t offered as serious means of coping!
Strategies to cope with fear usually involved taking action to arrive at a point where the fear is no longer felt as a physical sensation. This involved a whole range of activities from talking and sharing the fear – being talked off the ledge, as one person described it, to strenuous exercise to deal with the excess adrenaline. Some people are able to use relaxation techniques or meditation to calm themselves while others seek the help of a range of physical therapies that often results in them being able to talk about their fears.
Why do we need strategies to cope with IMAGINATION?
Having established that most fears are about thing we only imagine MIGHT happen or how we imagine we’ll cope if our worst fears are realised it seems a little strange that we need external coping mechanisms.
If we create the fear in our heads, surely we can get rid of it the same way? The six ghosts of fear (or however many we allow ourselves to have) are just that – GHOSTS. They aren’t real, they only exist in our heads.
Human beings have control over only one thing – our thoughts. Whatever we allow into our heads creates emotions and physical reactions and so the person who is able to discipline their thoughts has a huge advantage in controlling how they deal with both real and imagined situations.
This is not the same as the parroted phrase that has become popular with fans of The Law of Attraction – the one that says “Thoughts Become Things”. If that were true, teenage boys would get lucky several times a day, no-one would be sick and everyone would have as much money as they wanted.
Many unexpected and unwanted things happen to us in a lifetime and they are not the result of what we think. It is the way we choose to deal with them that is in our control and this means we need to exercise discipline over our thoughts. To catch a thought as it is formed and ask, “Is this useful to me or not?” and develop it or reject it accordingly means that the time wasted on fearful thoughts that paralyze and impoverish us can be freed to use on creating new ideas and enriching our lives.
When we believe and prove to ourselves that by controlling out thoughts we will cope with whatever life throws at us we truly have nothing to fear.
Look below the surface – you’ll be amazed at what you find!
Napoleon Hill suggested that one of the things that successful people do is to create a belief in themselves that they can achieve their goals. This can sometimes mean that we need to be aware of the messages coming from our subconscious mind that can interfere with this belief and stop us from taking action.
The subconscious mind is protected
– which is usually a good thing as it contains all the things we have ever learned and we wouldn’t want to have to re-learn most of them. However, it also contains less useful things that may stop us from achieving all that we might otherwise be capable of.
Fear of failure, of taking risks, of criticism, of losing, of being thought pushy or arrogant or proud are all stored there along with beliefs about whether we are entitled to expect, or deserve, more than we already have.
Anything that comes to us through our five senses is unlikely to affect the subconscious so how do we reach and change those things that are not useful to us?
Hill suggests (long before NLP was invented) that in order to create the belief that we can have something we must imbue it with emotion, imagine that we already have it and create the experience of already having it and then – and this is the really important part – go and DO the things that are necessary to make it happen.
Vividly imagine having whatever it is you desire and experience how that will feel and what you will see, hear, taste and smell. The emotions and physical reactions caused by these thoughts are generated internally rather than coming to us externally through our senses (and could be described as non-sense) and so are more likely to escape the gatekeeper of the subconscious mind.
The subconscious has no critical faculty. It doesn’t decide whether a thought is good or bad, useful or destructive and so once the thought is lodged there it can be useful as a new belief enabling us to do things we previously thought impossible.
There has been vigorous research into how emotions cause physical reactions, how physical sensations trigger emotions and how both emotions and physical reactions can be produced by thought alone. Belief may not move mountains but it can remove limitations and control physical experiences.
One of the most popular sayings arising from these theories is that “Thoughts Become Things” and while it is undoubtedly true that this can be the case, it is also much too simplistic as simply thinking or wishing will not make anything happen and this does not take into account the completely random things that happen to people. I have seen already distressed people puzzled and hurt at the implication that they have brought misfortune on themselves because their thoughts are not positive enough. Moreover, if we all got what we focused on most of the time, teenage boys would live in a constant state of bliss!
However, that doesn’t change the fact that by creating useful thoughts and stopping less useful ones, especially around the area of what we are capable of achieving, there is no doubt that we can make life easier and more satisfying.
What would you attempt if you knew without doubt that you would not fail?
Michael Markham is a remarkable man. Abandoned by his mother and brought up in Barnardo’s home, he was fostered by a family he didn’t like and became disruptive, ending up in Borstal and finally given the option of joining the army or going to prison.
Some years later when he was faced with accepting that he would be out of work because the company he worked for was bankrupt, he alone of all the employees decided to save the business. When I asked him what made him think he could buy and run a company he told me that it wasn’t so much a belief that he could do it as a lack of fear about what would happen if he didn’t. He has experienced having nothing and survived.
So, as he wasn’t afraid of failing, he just went ahead and did it. He turned Stanair Industrial Doors into a multi-million pound enterprise and along the way, learned what he needed to learn to make it work at each stage of development.
Henry Ford famously said “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you’re right” This is because the sub-conscious mind accepts what it is told whether those beliefs are useful to us or not.
Why do so many people wait until they face ruin before they decide to become successful? Maybe it’s because when they have nothing to lose, as in Michael’s case, the fear of failure is no longer significant. “I can’t” becomes “I will” and the belief is strong enough.
What would you attempt if you absolutely knew you couldn’t fail?