How Others See Your Fears

We each have different things that scare us, some people will be scared of heights but others absolutely love reaching them, just like some people spend all day with live snakes and spiders and others just kill them on sight. Sometimes our fears can make us look or feel silly. We don’t usually want to be afraid of what we’re scared of, it just happens. For most of us one of our biggest fears is being told by other people that your fears or the fears that your kids have are silly.  It’s important to know that their thoughts about your fears or the fears your kids have shouldn’t be your concern: the fear itself should be.

Fears aren’t about right and wrong, often fears are irrational, even silly sounding, but that doesn’t make them any less real or make us any less embarrassed by them when others find out about them. This is one reason that many of us hold back on getting the help we need to deal with our fears. Instead we let the fears just simmer and exist in our minds and lives until they wreak havoc on our lives and the lives of our kids.

Don’t ignore your kids when they tell you they’re scared, and don’t tell them or let anyone tell you that fears are irrational or wrong because as long as life remains the way it is we’ll have to deal with fears that seem very real to us. Don’t let other people tell you or your kids what’s right or wrong when it comes to fears, just try to be understanding and deal with the darkness in the fears and shine light on them.

“Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?” Maurice Freehill

Overcoming Success Fears

Today I want to share a few final thoughts on addressing fears in our businesses. The past two weeks we’ve really talked about the fears that stop our business success, so today I want to talk about overcoming those fears and maybe even stopping them before they even start.

First, ask questions.   Instead of just forging ahead with things always make sure to ask ‘what if’ questions and consider what could go wrong to address your fears before they become an issue.  You should ask questions like “do we have the right talent for this?” “what are our specific goals with this?” “who will be accountable for what and to whom for each aspect?”  This way you’ll be less likely to be surprised by things that happen, can deal with fears that might arise to stop you from completing the project and be more assured of success.

Second, have solid values.  When fears show up they can distract you and keep you from focusing on what’s really important.  But if you have solid, well-established values for the company you’ll be able to ground yourself in them and work through the fears and come up with resolutions that are in line with your company and don’t do any more damage then the fears may already have done.

Third, pay attention to your focus.  When you’re focusing on your fears it’s very hard to see anything else, let alone be a good leader or properly support your clients.  Fears are really good at sucking us in and trapping us in them.  It’s your job as leader to stop focusing on the fears themselves and instead focus on resolving not only the situation but what caused the fear in the first place.

Fourth, take action anyway.  Don’t let the fears stop you from being successful.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to keep working in spite of them.  That doesn’t mean to disregard them or consider them unimportant, just that they should have only the power to warn you of something not right, not to stop you from pursuing your passions and goals.

Don’t let your fears conquer you or let them stop you from sharing your talents and abilities with the world.  I’m confident in your ability as a leader to step up for yourself, your team and your clients and be successful despite the fears you will face.  What fears have you conquered, or are still trying to conquer in your business?

The Enemy of Success

Our lives are created by a few things including our thoughts and dreams, the people in our lives and the things they do and say, and the things we do. We can talk ourselves out of doing good things just like others can. We can also talk ourselves and others into doing things that aren’t the best to do. Many of us never get past the talking and dreaming about what could be to actually making it a reality and one major reason is the fears that we uncover or create when we are thinking and dreaming.

I talk with really smart and creative people every day, people who could do great things in the world but let their fears of what could be or fears of changing what is overrule the potential that they could create. I don’t blame them for having fears, we all have them, and we all have to choose to face them or let them continue to impact our lives. Change isn’t usually easy, it usually takes work to make the change happen in addition to the work of putting into place the dream or great idea you have.

One of the secrets to having all you’ve ever dreamed of and all you want in life is taking action. Very few people are handed all they want in life, most of us have to do stuff to get what we want. Fears help us stay wrapped up in our thoughts and never let us get to the actions that need to be taken.  Fears tell us that we’re aiming too high and we’ll never get there. But the reality is that you don’t climb a mountain in one step, there are months of planning, working out and gathering gear leading up to the climb and then the actual climb itself which is done one step at a time.

Don’t let your fears tell you that you can’t accomplish something, instead take a step back and take your first action on your goals by making a plan that you can conquer a little bit at a time, or in bigger steps if you’re feeling bold and ambitious. Don’t let your fears stop you from living and taking actions to make yourself a better life.

“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” Charles Stanley

Life Beyond Fears

This month we’ve been talking about fears. The thing about fears is that they hold us back more often than they help us.  Yes, they’re there to protect us, but many times they’re more over-the-top than helpful.  Today I wanted to share about one of the drawbacks of fear: what you miss out on.  When you’re busy looking over your shoulder you’re too busy to look in front of you and see life’s potential.  You’re missing out on the cool things, the weird things, the things that make you laugh and smile, the things that cheer you up, the things that challenge you and the things you fall in love with.  Fear means that you’re too busy looking back to appreciate all that you have or could have.

So while I can’t magically poof your fears and issues away, I want you to take just 5 minutes to really see the world around you this weekend.  Stop and check out the leaves changing colors, stop and smell the crisp scent of fall in the air, stop and see what the people in your world are doing, stop and see the changes going on all around you as stores prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and see what has become of your life.  Take time to see the world around you and be grateful for all you have and all those who are part of your life.

This week on the Spirituality and Life blog I shared about overcoming your fears (part 1, part 2), and sometimes the thing to do is to face them and work on overcoming them.  But sometimes what your fears, your life, and the people in your life need is more thanksgiving, love and joy.  When we learn to focus on those things, and not the fears and challenges that seem to be taking over our lives, we’re able to see life from a whole new perspective, and often be freed from our fears without having to do anything.

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”  Henri J M Nouwen

Do You Fear Success?

Recently I read an interesting blog post by David Neagle on our topic of this month: fear. He addressed the “fear of success”. The perspective he took on that fear is that we’re not actually afraid of success, in fact we succeed in lots of things each day, the fear is really about being afraid to let go of our current successes to be more successful in other (bigger/better) things. Those are some really good insights into why we aren’t always as successful as we could be.

So what is holding you back? Is it what the legal system or the industry that you’re in says you can or can’t do? I recently worked with a winery that fought for 6 years to get some laws changed so they could have more freedom in creating wines at their winery. They succeeded and there are countless other examples of companies and people who have bucked the system that people said there was no way around. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to open up a social media site and not see some example of great overcoming and over-comers in life or business.

Are you scared of what could happen if you do succeed? Of the changes that would happen, the additional responsibilities you would hold, the impact you could have on the world, the publicity and scrutiny you would face? If so, maybe your vision and passion aren’t big enough. Maybe you don’t truly want that level of success.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everyone should want to be, needs to be or should be super-rich and successful. Some people are happy with their level of success. However, there are also many people who aren’t happy with their level of success, and they’re usually the people who are too scared to take a step forward, are worried that they’ll fail, are trying too hard to get their ducks in a row, are too concerned with what others are doing or trying too hard to follow the rules. Fear and success aren’t good partners in these examples.

If you’ve been struggling with the fear of moving to the next level of success (and you do want or need to), make a list of things both big and little that you could or should do to make it happen; you can even break the big ones down into smaller steps. Then pick one thing each day to work on. Maybe it will be something you need to do for a week or two to change the habit you were in and develop a new one. But by picking one thing each day that you can do to help you get to the next level of success, you’ll work on conquering the fear without totally overwhelming yourself which will make you much more likely to succeed.

Is Fear Stopping You?

Fears are really good at one thing: stopping you from doing things. We’ve talked about the positive side of fears where they help stop us from doing really stupid things that could get us killed, or helping to remind us how badly things went the last time we tried something. But the truth is that most of the time fears hold us back from living life. It’s really hard, almost impossible, to thrive when you’re constantly being blocked by fears.

There’s a lot of talk and research as well into animals knowing how we’re feeling. If we show fear, hatred or dislike to them they know we feel that way about them and respond in one way, but if we show no fear or show that we’re interested in them or like them they respond completely differently.

Fears are kind of like this because if we’re focused on our fears and being scared or intimidated by them we’ll feel like they’re popping up in all kinds of crazy ways to stop us and hinder our progress at the least convenient times all the time. It’s kind of like how when you’re thinking about buying a new blue Ford Focus it seems like you see it everywhere. It’s a principle of awareness: what you’re thinking about, meditating on or focused on will be your reality. So if we want a different reality, yes, we have to think on different things!

If you want to stop being hindered by your fears you need to focus less on the obstacles that the fears can and do put in your path and more on the things you actually want, what is going right in your life, what you’re confident in and taking steps to overcome them.

“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them… they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.” Orison Swett Marden

Failing for the Future

Last week I talked about some things that kids think about parents or adults. We learn many things from our parents, that’s their role: to teach us and help us grow into people capable of taking on the world. Yes, the world has changed since they were kids so their childhood experiences may not totally line up with ours, but many of the concepts and lessons are still applicable and need to be learned now more than ever. One of the things that kids today need to be taught is about what to do with failures. You will fail or someone will fail you sooner rather than later. So what can we teach our kids and maybe learn ourselves?

Failure will happen. It’s part of the learning experience that is life. In one way or another you’ll fail or let someone down somehow. Once you’ve done that you have to figure out where to go from there. You can of course ignore the failure and hope it goes away or doesn’t get caught. It’s something we all try at least once because it’s not really pleasant to realize you’ve made a mistake or admit to it. You can also choose to live less life and not try new things because of it. Or you can learn from it and be prepared so you hopefully don’t make the same mistake again.

If we choose to live less life because of our failures and mistakes we’re letting fear win. When fear wins the world stays flat, doesn’t fly, can’t take pictures, and can’t cure cancer. Yet today because some people chose to overcome their fears, we know those things aren’t true.

So as adults our best bet is to face our fears and failures and keep living anyway. Not to ignore the failures or not apologize when necessary, but to choose to do better next time because we can.

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” Thomas Paine

What If My Business Fails?

The next few weeks we’ll be diving into this month’s topic as it applies to our businesses: fear. Today we’re going to talk about the big topic that holds most people back: what if I fail. No one likes to fail but failure is a reality for all of us. Sometimes we fail in big ways and sometimes we fail in small ways, but we all fail. So here are 3 things to consider with regards to failure and business.

First, if you’re too scared about failing don’t bother getting started. If you’re trying to run your business from a place of fear you’ll never be able to make the choices or take the risks necessary to really make your business a success. There will be fears as you start and grow your business, the question is if you’re willing to face them and work through them or use them as excuses to hold yourself back?

Second, your handling of failure determines your success. You will disappoint customers; sometimes it will be caused by something you’ve done, like having a bad batch or bad day, and other times they’ve had a bad day and need someone to pick on and you’re the unlucky recipient. Regardless, you can totally butcher your company and your success and ruin all trust that your current or future customers have in you, or you can let it be a learning experience, maybe inspiring you with something as simple as providing a better way for them to communicate their displeasure to you and get a refund rather than them posting on every social site known to man about how awful you are.

Third, fears and failures can be used to grow your business beyond what your competitors are able to do. If you’re willing to do what they won’t when dealing with a failure or in facing a fear that has paralyzed your industry for a long time you can make it a big advantage. If you’re willing to investigate what others have said is impossible or too expensive and see if you can’t make it happen you’ll open your company up to a lot of potential and ways to serve your customers in more ways.

So to answer the question, what if I fail, is really about choices.  Will you chose to overcome the failures you experience, or will you let them stop you before you even get started?

“Fear can be good when you’re walking past an alley at night or when you need to check the locks on your doors before you go to bed, but it’s not good when you have a goal and you’re fearful of obstacles. We often get trapped by our fears, but anyone who has had success has failed before.” Queen Latifah

Day of Discovery

Today in the USA is the day that we remember the adventures of Christopher Columbus. There are many things that we could talk about with regards to him, and there has been some criticism about him in recent years, as there are of other early explorers. But today I don’t want to talk about his failures or mistakes but rather his sense of adventure, his bravery and his passion for discovery.

Today’s technology makes many things a lot less scary or intimidating because we can learn so much before we ever embark on the adventure. That doesn’t mean the adventure is any less exciting, it means we’re better prepared to succeed rather than fail, and we’re better prepared to take advantage of the things we could explore instead of being forced to come back and try it again at some other point in time.

“Going where no man has gone before” isn’t a statement we can really use these days but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do it bigger or better than has been done before. Today we can learn things that weren’t possible because we can take the discovery to the next level, adding on what has been learned in previous explorations.

But Columbus and his crew were going where no man had gone before and didn’t have anything close to the technology we do today. So what can we really learn from him? That we’re limited only by the limitations we give ourselves. The world is open to all the adventures you want to have and discoveries you want to pursue. It’s just a question of whether or not you’ll go for it or let someone else have the fun, adventures and thrill of discovery.

A Parent Was Once A Kid

Recently I heard about a survey given to a group of 10 year olds about “what’s wrong with grownups.”  Here were some of their answers:

1. Grownups make promises, then forget them, or say it wasn’t a promise, just a “maybe.”
2. Grownups don’t do the things they tell their children to do—like pick up their things or always tell the truth.
3. Grownups don’t listen. They decide ahead of time what they’re going to answer.
4. Grownups make mistakes, but won’t admit them. They pretend they weren’t mistakes at all—or that somebody else made them.
5. Grownups always talk about what they did and what they knew when they were ten-years-old, but they don’t try to think what it’s like to be ten-years-old right now.

There are a ton of things we could discuss from this incredibly insightful (and embarrassing) survey, but I just want to focus on a few key things we can do to set better examples for the kids in our lives.

First: perfection and aiming for the moon are great, but usually unrealistic.  Instead, promise what you know you can deliver, and if possible surprise them with something extra.

Second: words are powerful, so when we do or don’t follow through with what we’ve said kids think they don’t have to either (which leads to lots of fights and usually punishments).

Third: be open to all possibilities.  The more you close yourself off to what could be the less likely that you’ll get what you really want in life.  You’ll also end up alienating yourself from friends and family the less you’re willing to listen to and/or accept them for who they are and what they say.

Fourth: life has changed.  Kids today live a different life than even college students today did when they were their age.  So if that’s the case imagine how much has changed since when you were a kid!

Much has changed since you and I were kids, some things for the better and others not, and some things haven’t changed, like the value of love, honesty and family.  This weekend I encourage you to pay more attention to how you’re interacting with your kids, what you’re teaching them about responsibility, and which of your own advice you need to follow more.