I was recently invited to find a question that Google could not answer and so I asked, “why does fear matter to your success?” The answer I received was ‘fear of success!” and it completely overlooked the main question – Why does it matter?
The simple fact is that fear matters to your success because it’s a driver for change. It forces you to question your obstacles, and challenges you to think beyond the limitations you may have placed upon yourself. It forces you to the edge of your understanding and opens your world to greater possibilities.
Few of us care to enter unknown, or forbidden territory willingly. You don’t know what’s waiting for you there. Your mind shifts into overdrive, creating the worst case scenarios. You think you are being sensible by avoiding the problems, or refusing to do the necessary work to make the changes, but all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable.
Change usually means we have to sacrifice something. It can be a bad relationship, a job that no longer satisfies, an abusive habit, or an unhealthy approach to our body. Whatever it is, we resist. It’s easier to keep things the way they are rather than go through the process of making changes.
But what does that cost you?
We are oftentimes addicted to our negative thinking, and conditioned into settling for less. We make up stories to quell our uncertainty and we frequently miss the mark on what we hope to achieve because we are afraid of what the change will mean for our family, our careers, or our lives.
People create a whole opera of behaviors that keep them from addressing fear.
- Doing thing because you thought you had to, or couldn’t say no.
- Letting other abuse your generosity because you wanted to be liked.
- Daydreaming about being rescued.
- Not admitting you were wrong.
- Manipulating others to get what you want.
- Hesitating to speak up
- Being defensive when confronted
And a whole lot more to circumnavigate the discomfort of making changes.
I know this because that was my life for a long time.
We all face circumstances that are beyond our control, but most of the time you have an option to stop doing what doesn’t serve your best interests.
If I eat too much, or drink too much and then feel bad about it afterwards, then I only have myself to blame. If I stay in a relationship that has been over for some time, I’m only prolonging the process of making change. If I continue to put up with a job that frustrates, or undermines my well-being for longer than is necessary, I will suffer the consequences in lack of focus, ineffective performance, and perhaps burnout.
All of this is avoidable if we stop and question why our fear of change is getting in the way of our success.
Fear matters to your success. It is your internal alarm clock that tells you something is missing from your life. Something needs to grow. Just like a plant, if we don’t water it, it will die, and too many people wither and die on the vine because they lack the courage to take the next step and move beyond the fear to discover what’s on the other side of it.
So next time you hesitate, or avoid, or look for distractions in order to quell your fears, stop a moment. Ask yourself what the fear is all about? Make it a conversation between you and the emotion. Be curious, and be willing to sit in your discomfort until you find a satisfactory answer.
Then choose differently. Choose to be uncomfortable.
Choose to explore your options.
Choose to make fear your friendly advisor who nudges you once in a while to take bigger risks. Go beyond your comfort zone and discover how good your life and career can be when you refuse to allow fear to stop you from getting what you want.
Be Fearless: See Where It Gets You.