- Fear of criticism, rejection, or exposure
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of failure
“If we take a risk we might fail. If we don’t take a risk we surely will fail. The greatest risk of all is to do nothing.” – Unknown Author
Why would anyone go through the process of setting and planning goals and then not follow through? One possible answer is the rewards aren’t sufficient enough to motivate you into action. Another probable answer is procrastination has derailed or stalled you. The inability to act can often be traced to fear, doubt, or the absence of a clear picture of the potential rewards and consequences.
And all fears come down to these three main types.
1. External Fear
Usually caused by a specific event in your past, external fears are caused by something outside of you. This is when someone fears something specific like flying, spiders or the number 13. It is only triggered under specific instances when you encounter what it is that frightens you. Because of the trigger, these fears are easily recognized.
Most of these fears are caused by some traumatic event in the past. For instance, if you got bit by a spider at a young age, you might develop a phobia about them. Your experience taught you to avoid them.
2. Internal Fear
Like external fears, these fears are also triggered by events outside of you. However, internal fears are not specific to any circumstance and are due to internal emotions. This can make these fears difficult to recognize.
Internal fears manifest as fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, lack of self worth and doubt. Having a fear of failure can stop someone from starting their own business, asking a person out on a date or starting a new hobby.
All of these are different circumstances affected by one fear. Internal fears are dangerous because it can make you think that this fear is just who you are. If you miss it, these fears can really hold you back in life.
3. Subconscious Fear
Other fears are so internal to us that we develop beliefs around them. Subconscious fear is similar to internal fears except subconscious fears are believed to be a part of who we really are. Subconscious fears develop into limiting beliefs.
Limiting beliefs filter how you see the world. An example of a limiting belief would be if you think you’ll never find a job you like because every job you have ever had was terrible. Limiting beliefs usually try to convince you that you are not good enough to do something.
Because they are beliefs, they are hard to recognize and eliminate. Realize beliefs are not facts. How many beliefs have you had that you realized were not true? Sometimes what you think is true about yourself is just an irrational belief.
Although any one of these 3 types of fears can cause you to become immobile, it is usually the internal fears that create the most barriers to goal achievement…
Common internal fears can further be divided into three basic categories:
Fear of criticism, rejection, or exposure is linked closely with the need for social acceptance. People will go to great lengths to adopt a mode of dress or a certain type of behavior because they fear criticism and rejection of others. Fear of having an idea rejected continues to lose billions of dollars for American business.
Fear of the unknown can also inhibit achievement. Many times, our need for security (the need to feel safe) causes us to be fearful in those situations in which we are not sure what is going to happen. Our fear of what might or might not happen can cause us to keep from doing those things we should do to bring us closer to our goals. One key to addressing fear of the unknown is examining the possibilities and then weighing them against doing nothing.
It is not unusual for a person to want something intensely, but because of the fear of failure, not even try to attain it. Whether it’s the president who’s afraid to make a change in structure or the manager who is afraid to develop a more competent, self-directed team, fear can be a major deterrent to success. If you promote a risk avoidance mentality, innovation, growth, and the entire goal setting process can be stifled. If mistakes are met with criticism and/or punishment, people will be inclined to do only what they know how to do. It will inhibit creativity and improvement. By not trying, people frequently ensure failure—the very thing that they are trying to avoid. Fear of failure has blinded many people from seeing opportunities.
Many people view failure as a permanent, indelible, and negative state. It’s not that at all! In fact, failure can be a very positive experience. Failure provides an opportunity to learn. Any newly attempted endeavor invites failure. The first time you try to ski you are guaranteed to fall. If you don’t fall you haven’t moved or progressed. Without failure there is no progress. When you stop failing, you stop learning. Failure is important to success if it is viewed as an opportunity to learn. To change failure from a negative experience to a positive phenomenon, eliminate those conditions which contribute to fear of failure. Develop a culture in which individuals are recognized and rewarded for innovation and creative problem solving.
“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde
Have you overcome any fears in your life?
Any ways that you deal with fears when you encounter them?
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.