I wrote the original version of this post 5 or 6 years ago and it is still just as relevant today.
I often come across and work with people who are not achieving what they set out to achieve. And people who become very down on themselves (or others!), negative or frustrated, or just simply give up. I’m sure we all have times when we feel this way, or am I the only one?
This is particularly prevalent in the Network Marketing sector where, success ‘appears’ to be ‘easier’ than in a traditional business environment. Or more accurately, by it’s nature – a people business – the volume of people who are involved and go through the process is high and the simplicity of the Network Marketing business building model can mask the challenges and personal growth curve, until someway along the path.
There are lots of reasons why we don’t achieve what we set out to and what I hear quite often is that people are afraid of failure: Afraid of making a mistake; afraid of saying the wrong thing; afraid of what others will think of them; afraid of making the changes they need to in their life, to make the difference; afraid they don’t know enough +++
Fear is a huge thing and every one of us experiences it at some point in our lives. There are plenty of books on the subject including, of course “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.
The first step to take is to understand what FEAR stands for:
This gives us the opportunity to question and unpick what we are afraid of and when we do, the conclusion is usually that there isn’t really anything to fear or that the fear can easily be rectified. For example, when I ask people to name 3 Fears that they feel are holding them back, it often doesn’t take much analysis before the Fear they have identified is easily diffused. A discussion very quickly brings a simple solution, pretty much every time. It’s mostly about rethinking the problem. Experience also shows us that when we confront our fear then the fear dissipates very quickly and is nowhere near as bad as we’d built it up to be.
Even with this knowledge, I’m very interested in how so many people who have such wonderful goals and achievable dreams – and the means to get there at their fingertips – allow fear of failure to hold them back, when in fact success is only achieved through failure. Yes, failure is part of success, not the reverse of it. As adults we have all had first hand experience of this: nobody goes from crawling as a baby to walking without falling down, crying a bit and getting back up again…over and over… failing over and over until we can walk, run, play sport, and so on. The real challenge may well be that we are actually too familiar with failure so it’s easy to sit back and be comfortable in our discomfort – we’ve been here plenty of times before. So fear of failure is more ‘comfortable’ and familiar enough that it’s somewhere we can stay, forever if we wish.
This is the place of comfortable discomfort where we fall back to when the goal or action is perceived to be too big or the changes needed, too overwhelming. However, when we understand that any big changes are made from lots of small insignificant steps taken daily, this gives us our power back. Think about weight gain or weight loss. You don’t just wake up one morning and you’ve put on 2 stone! The small changes you’ve made gradually, to your activity levels, your food and alcohol choices every day. The ones you haven’t really noticed because they were so insignificant that made daily have added on the pounds over several months or years. Reverse that for weight loss… Just by making a few changes, or taking just a few simple steps daily you can achieve all that you want no matter how big. Two books I love on this subject are ‘The Slight Edge’ Jeff Olson and‘The Compound Effect’ Darren Hardy.
But here’s the rub…If we can overcome our fear of failure relatively simply by taking small steps or rethinking it, why do so few people STILL find achievement of their goals so elusive and still seem FEARful in their demeanor.
Several years ago I came across a poem. A poem that changed my perspective on fear of failure so completely and profoundly that it changed how I work with people.
Many of you may well know the poem by Marianne Williamson (and just for info I’m not religious) but this blew me away…
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
How does this resonate with you?
It is not fear of failure that holds people back… it is fear of Success, the power within us.
This made much more sense at a much deeper level than the fear of failure.
It’s not surprising that we are afraid of success. The experience of being successful is not always a positive one and we are taught this from childhood. If you were bright at school and top of the class you were also likely to have been the least popular child and possibly bullied or called names. In the work place being good at your job and acheiving your targets would lead to your targets being increased year on year, and your hours, until exhaustion or disillusionment set in, or very likely redundancy… Our wonderful media loves to put successful people up on a pedastal and then look for the skeleton in the cupboard or paparazzi photo to bring them crashing down (Even though we are all human and all have our own skeleton’s). It’s not therefore a surprise that people even at a superficial level, shy away from and are afarid of success.
Success ifself means different things to different people and whilst that discussion is outside the scope of this post, it is important to understand that defining what success means to you is integral to facing the FEAR.
Whatever success does mean to you, to achieve it you will have to do things differently –
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford
To think otherwise is delusional and a sign of madness! And people often struggle with doing things differently, particularly consistently. Why? Because we don’t really like change, especially if it requires stepping outside our comfort zone and putting consistent and persistent effort in. Yes, Success comes with a cost.
For success to happen not only do we have to do things differently we have to change who we do it with… surround ourselves with other successful people who will support and teach us and definitely challenge us (Ouch!).
And then we have to deal with all those people around us we think should believe in us and support us and who we find prefer to knock us down or dimiss our new ways (I looked at this a bit more here in my last post “Why do we support celebrities we don’t know but not our families and friends “)
But who are we to not fulfil our potential? How does that serve anyone?
Have you ever been told by someone that what you said to them changed their life in some way for the better (even if you have no recollection of the detail of the conversation, or even the conversation or the person at all)? We all have that power within us. You have the power in YOU. Who are you not to fulfil your potential?
So, how does this resonate with you – is it fear of failure or fear of Success that is holding you back? By understanding which of these it is we can then start to make the small steps needed, deal with those self-limiting beliefs and get stuck in. Accepting along the way that it is the human condition to be a “work in progress”, and we don’t need to look left or right for this journey we just need to look inwards.
Michelle Turner-Davidson is a speaker, trainer and mentor specialising in developing people and teams and taking the fear, hype and struggle out of network marketing.
To find out how Michelle can help you, or if anything in this article resonates with you, do get in touch. You can fill out the comments below, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter @MichTD, Facebook or check out the rest of this website MichelleTurnerDavidson.com