What are you afraid of? You may not be a wimp, but the truth is, everyone is afraid of something. And chances are, when you get to the root of your fear, you start discovering what’s holding you back. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, successful, unsuccessful, famous or not famous, fear is a problem for everyone. David Sanford has written that the five greatest fears of professional people are:
1. The fear of silence
2. The fear of sharing
3. The fear of selling
4. The twin fears of rejection and failure
5. The fear of success
When is comes to reaching the next level in your career or calling, chances are, one of these fears has your name written all over it. So what do you do? Here’s my advice:
1) Acknowledge the fear. Fear starts losing it’s power the minute we acknowledge it and make it public. Stop trying to hide it (everyone knows about it anyway.) Get it out there. Let everyone know it’s a challenge for you.
2) Do something about it. Making it public does something great – it forces you to act. Otherwise, you’ll be humiliated. Take a class, talk to a counselor, find a mentor – whatever it takes to figure this out and move forward.
3) Celebrate small victories. You don’t have to overcome your fear instantly. Take small steps and celebrate each one. Let people know your progress so they can celebrate with you. That alone is a huge momentum builder.
4) Beat the fear with knowledge. A friend of mine was afraid of water so she took a scuba class. All that classroom time built up her confidence and eventually she loved taking her first dive. Another was afraid of heights so he took skydiving lessons. Remember, they don’t toss you out of a plane on the first day. They spend time learning in the classroom, and that knowledge gave him enormous motivation and confidence. Education is a powerful tool for overcoming your fear.
5) Finally, be realistic. The truth is, your fear of public speaking is nothing compared to people’s desire to hear what you have to say. The reward is so much greater than the struggle. Talk to other people. Listen to them and believe them. Most fears are exaggerated, and although that doesn’t lessen their power, seeing the world realistically makes a big difference.
Don’t run from your fear. Humbly acknowledge it, realize that you need to conquer it next time, and then make the effort to move forward. Otherwise, you can be trapped in fear for the rest of your life.
As a professional, what’s the fear you need to overcome?