Tag Archives: fear of failure

if I really wanted to …

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
― Mario Andretti

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“if I really wanted to …”, are those words you’ve mumbled to yourself in the quiet.   “If I really wanted to I would ______________” and it ends there doesn’t it?   The greatness of your potential slips by on the slippery rails of “if I wanted to.”

Our excuses lie at the bottom of a deep cavern called “if I wanted to …”.   Dreams, desires, passions and results look at you and ask, “do you really want to?” and your reply is, I would, “if I wanted to …”.

It is an easy way to hide and easy way to hold back from making the changes that would shift your life from what it is right now to something greater.   It is your mind and your beliefs that say, “don’t try that …”, and with just a little prodding the voice that says “try” falls silent.

What have you been saying, “if I wanted to …”  too?  Are you putting off making a change in your life, getting exercise, starting the diet, boosting your knowledge, fixing a broken relationship, changing the tires on the car, painting the siding, or washing the windows?

Whenever you say, “if I wanted to …”, you are finding a way to wait until tomorrow or the next day.   You are pushing now into the future and you are pushing your dreams into the future.    Maybe it is a good time to step back and check-in with yourself to see how many “if I wanted to’s”  are part of your day.

What have you been putting off with the “if I wanted to …” excuse?

Living with the shame of “I am not good enough”

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”  Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Give that title of the post some thought.   What is the one thing that has stopped you from living out your life fully?    Is it the inability to admit that you failed or that you could fail?   Is it not being good enough and the fear of letting someone down is paralyzing?

Vulnerability is a key ingredient for trust.   Trust in organizations hides because there isn’t a culture of vulnerability and why should there be vulnerability when you can’t be vulnerable.  We stop short of being vulnerable because we fear what would happen if we were and even if we have permission there is a silent voice in our mind saying “Don’t say another word”  and we hesitate and withdraw our voice and our contribution.    “What if I am not good enough?” and that is what holds so many people at bay.

It is no wonder that 85% of people desire to do something other than what they are currently being paid to do.   What would happen if everyone raised their voice and said, “This isn’t the right job for me … “.    They won’t say it because they don’t have something better to go to and fear holds them back chained to work that sucks the life out of them.     “Who am I … “, and that voice kills innovation, kills creativity, kills excitement and kills contribution, “who am I” to have a voice, to have an idea, to have a dream and to make a difference.

It comes across as “who am I to have a purpose”.    The question “what is your purpose?” most often has a response of “I don’t know.”     Living without purpose  is like being a robot just “doing things” and hoping something good will come of it.   Purpose is the foundation for living a meaningful life.    What crumbles that foundation is the inability to be vulnerable to admit failure, to admit that it wasn’t perfect the first time and to believe that there was fault behind that failure that belonged to you.

Take a look at this video clip from Brene’  Brown, listen to her story, her explanation of what vulnerability is and isn’t and what shame is and how it leads down a path of personal destruction.

So much of what coaching is, is restoring that faith in the person that they are worthy of great things because they have greatness inside.   That greatness has been swallowed up in shame and that keeps vulnerability from doing its work, bringing you to greatness.

Take a look!

And if the video spoke to you or if the words on this page spoke to you then … click on that purple thing just below these words … and vote for your favorite coaching blog.

unconscious living

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.”   Charles D. Gill

“But, I can’t” … you’ve heard this before, maybe those are the words you uttered as well, “I can’t ….”, and if you ask why you might hear the words that are tied to a fear.    Often the words “I can’t” are spoken before there is any conscious thought.  It is as if “I can’t” rolls off the tongue with a high degree of practice, and it does.

What does “I can’t” speak to?   It speaks to fear, a fear of failure, a fear of success or a fear of loss.   “I can’t” really says I am not ready to make a change in my life because I am afraid of what the result could be and that result could be less favorable than I desire.   (It might cost money I don’t have, or It might cause me to lose something I can’t afford to lose right now, or It might make me feel bad, or It might make me look bad, or …. ).

In many cases there are words that we speak that we don’t create but rather words that are spoken in reaction to an event or a thought.   When our language becomes a reflex rather than a response we have trained our brain to do something without thinking about it.   It happens every day.  If you drive a car there is a lot of the driving process which has been pushed out of conscious thought to the point that driving can be unconscious.  (Think about the last time  you drove somewhere and don’t remember the journey).

Let’s say you have made a declaration to create success in your life.  To do that means that you are choosing the unknown.   To make a large shift in your life will push you in a direction in which you are not familiar and that generates fear.   To make steps forward means stepping into areas in which you have little or no experience and means making a choice to live consciously by making small effective choices to advance you in the direction you want to go.

To shift from unconscious living to conscious living is having an important goal, a goal that can become a driving force in your life.   What is your big goal that you are working towards?    Are you letting your programmed response to life stop you or are you taking the steps you need to take to grow and succeed?

chase the fear away

Olusegun Jegeda writes, “Fear is like a virus that wrecks havoc in our lives. It develops into mistrust, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, and other negative emotions. It paralyzes us and hinders our progress in life. When fear grips you, you become powerless. It’s the greatest obstacle to personal success.”   Psychology Today

Fear starts with the statement “what if …”.

What if I don’t get that new job.

What if I don’t have the money to pay the bills?

What if my manager gets upset with me again?

What if they fire me?

What if they keep me?

What if my company goes out of business?

What if my relationship ends up in divorce?

What if I don’t finish college?

What I am not smart enough?

What if I don’t look good enough?

What if I don’t get a promotion?

What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?

What if I fail?

What if I succeed then what?

All those  “what if” statements that we create in our mind generate the sensation of fear or stress.   Your body’s reaction to that stress or fear is the release of hormones into your body so that it will react.   These hormones are powerful and that is the reason our heart elevates in rate, our breathing increases, our language changes and we begin to react rather than respond to the situation.

Think about where you are right now, what is holding you back?  What “what if” statement is running through you mind and what would you like to do about it?

you can overcome it …

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you a risk taker?

What was it like the first time you did something?   Were you excited or afraid?    What did you think would happen?

For some people it is the first time standing on the edge of a diving board.   It is that uneasy feeling of the board moving up and down and perhaps it is the fear of the unknown, not knowing what will happen that petrifies many people before they take that first leap.     Push the board down and it propels you upward and then it retreats while your feet lose contact with the board surface and by propelling yourself forward you clear the end of the board.    With arms and legs flailing about and the body in free fall towards the water the next challenge is getting into the water without hitting the water broadside.    Kersplash …  the next part is getting back above the surface of the water and in a few seconds your head breaks through and with one big gulp of air you realize you made it and a sense of relief passes through the body.

Getting to the end of the diving board for the first time and making the decision to leap, jump or dive was an experience that only happens once.  Once the event is over it is either safe to do it again or not.   For most people the experience is worth repeating again and again.    After a few tires then experimenting and doing new launches off the board seems OK, fear now become excitement.

It was a risk to make that first jump at least it felt risky.  How did you get there?

1. You made a decision (ok, I am ready, I am going to do it)
2. You anticipated the event  (increased heart rate)
3. You took action (overcame the internal resistance)
4. You observed the results (it was better than you thought)
5. Your confidence increased (it was safe, go do it again)

If you go back to that very first time, you may have watched a friend go jump off of the diving board and as they were “in the air” they yelled “come try it, it’s fun!”) and as you watched you were thinking “maybe it is or I’m not so sure it will work for me” and it may have been a moment where all you could respond with “No, it doesn’t look like fun and I have to go”.   A quick risk reduction step,  an excuse to do something else, so that you wouldn’t have to take that first step.

You left the swimming pool and walked away, not taking that change, or risk to leap off the diving board into the cool water.  You missed having the fun of flying into the air and landing with a splash of laughter and joy, thinking next time I’ll try, next time I’ll jump into the air and experience what looks like to be so much fun, only if it weren’t so scary.

Not long ago I was talking with someone who wanted to make a change but was afraid of taking that step.   Fear gripped his words, ”  I’d like to but  (notice the but) I’m not sure it will work”, and so in a moment of indecision backed off, and  retreated to a place that felt  safer.   It was like walking away from the pool knowing that everyone else was having fun but that first jump, that first dive, just looked like it was too risky to take, maybe next time.

What are you waiting for, next time?

What is your risk taking score?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  Anaïs Nin

Ego less to live more

What is the one thing that is stopping you from reaching your desired goals in life?

For many the “ego” is what holds people back from realizing what they want most.   The ego holds people captive of the “I” syndrome, the idea that “I” matter more than anything else, that “I” am the center of the universe, and that the universe revolves around what “I” want.

The ego cripples dreams, desires, hopes and the results people so much want out of life.   The stories of “mega-stars” in the business or sports world all too often splash across the headlines with another story of a roar to the top and the subsequent slide to the bottom.

The power isn’t in how big the ego is, but in how powerful your ability to create opportunities with the intention of serving others becomes.  The drive is creating for others rather than creating for self.   The ego responds to fear, the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of being powerless in a world overcome by power and the feeling that “I am not good enough” and reacts to protect the weakness within.

Where is your ego?

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still”

Lao Tzu

Simple steps to overcome fear …

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

How do you handle fear?    What things in your life generate fear?

I’ve written a short e-book called “What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?” that is available for download.   Just sign up and in the comments mention that you want the free e-book and I’ll send it to you.