How to master your fears, part II: Identification

Pinpoint pain points and take control of your professional destiny.

Few people understand that fear is the basis for many other emotions. For example, stress, frustration, anxiety, even anger at times are all rooted in fear.

To master a phobia, you must begin with identification of the problem.

Pinpointing your fears is the first of six steps to take control of them. You must be in control.

After distilling people’s anxieties down to their essence, four primary fears emerge:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of selling

Identifying your big four fears:

Fear of failure

But those fears mean different things to different people. Consider: How does your fear of failure manifest itself? Is it related to your work life or your personal life? Does it involve family members or colleagues?

Fear of success

This is second major point of distress, though it may seem counterintuitive. Psychologists call this an example of “cognitive dissonance,” meaning there’s an inner struggle between two goals in your mind. Fear of success is a very cryptic anxiety, often we unaware of it or how we self-sabotage our own success.

Here is an example: If you’re professionally accomplished, you could be required to have to go to a different city, state or country to move up the corporate ladder. But you might also feel torn about leaving your current environment – place, relationships and familiar routine – just to get ahead. If you want to be more prosperous at work but believe that’s going to take away from your home life, that’s an instance of cognitive dissonance.

Imagine you’re an introvert, a real homebody; you love your family, your pets, your garden. You know, however, that you have more to offer. So it’s important to make sure that your natural inclinations don’t damage your desire to make a difference in the world.

(I’ve included this example, because I am personally aware of this inner conflict.)

By staying aware of it, it doesn’t control me at a subconscious level; rather, I remain in control.

Your fear of success could stem from the fact that being more successful might change your life in ways that could be taxing to you, and that’s a scary proposition.

Fear of rejection

Many entrepreneurs are perfectly kind, pleasant people, and they deeply desire their employees to like them. Yet sometimes, it’s more important to be respected than liked.

Some bosses are afraid if they give constructive feedback – no matter how nicely put – they’re not going to lose friends, and they will be rejected as a person. This holds these individuals back, because to get the best out of every person on a team, tough love is sometimes necessary. When you’re just always nice, you don’t push people to perform and high performers thrive on feedback.

Your fear of rejection might exist in your personal, rather than your professional life. You might fear being rejected by a friend, significant other or family member.

Fear of selling

This is not merely a fear of selling products or services. Individuals often run into this as a fear of selling themselves, which, to be frank, is something we must do constantly. Whether selling an idea to a colleague, spouse or child, we may be pitching a project or a change to our team at work. We’re working hard to show that we deserve that promotion or raise.  

Are you victimizing yourself by not acknowledging your fears? You become a target of your own mind if you don’t try and figure out the fear-based reasons that might be sabotaging your success or preventing you from achieving even greater success.

Will you be master, or victim of your mind? If you don’t identify and master your fears, you’re literally being a victim of your own mind. 

Categories: Management & Leadership