Eliminate The Subconscious Influence of Fear

Fear is an emotion that evolved as a form of protection from painful or possibly fatal situations. Rational fears protect us. Healthy fear keeps us from acting in ways that would put our lives in danger. It keeps us from walking into a lion’s den or placing our hands in a roaring fire.

On the other hand, we develop irrational fears as the result of painful past experiences and conjure them up when we anticipate a similar negative experience. Irrational fears can hold us back and steal our dreams.

To help overcome irrational fear, many people use a great acronym that places it in the proper context. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Below are the five irrational fears that often prevent business leaders from taking risks.

The Fear of the Unknown

You don’t know what the future will bring. You may know that greater possibilities exist, but what you have now is familiar. It’s difficult to give up the certainty of the familiar for the uncertain rewards of the unfamiliar.

This major hurdle is usually associated with income, and is the fear that prevents most business leaders from investing time in building new relationships.

Developing relationships requires an investment of time up front with no promise of return.

Here is how you can address this fear of the unknown:

  • Create a list of the steps you will take to attack this situation
  • Review this list several times in advance of your action
  • Follow each of these steps as you progress – maintaining flexibility to adjust as you go
  • Once you have completed the action the first time, do an “after action review” and make adjustments

Fear gives way to familiarity. If you create a structure and a process you will destroy this fear.

The Fear of Commitment

It is human nature to want to do what you say you are going to do. In fact, it is a strong psychological force. The need for your actions to match your words drives you to follow through on whatever commitments you make.

That type of commitment implies hard work, and you’d rather not commit than compromise your integrity by failing to keep your word. This is especially true when you make a commitment to yourself.

The psychology of commitment is a mental Catch-22. Your impulse to keep your word – make your commitment come true – is so great that it causes you to avoid making commitments. This includes making the commitment to yourself to live the dream of making more money.

There are two ways to overcome this fear of commitment. The first is to contrast possibility with probability. If it is probable that you will accomplish the task at hand, then you should be able to make the commitment.

If you have successfully attracted new clients in the past, it is probable that you will be able to do it again.

The second way to tackle this fear is to view a large commitment as a series of smaller commitments. This is the one-day-at-a-time philosophy that has proved so successful in helping people break addictions. Your short-term concern is meeting your goal today. Before you know it, your days turn into months and your months turn into years. Each day of success becomes positive reinforcing behavior. In the process, the basis of your fear becomes familiar and is no longer a threat.

From a business development perspective this is accomplished by inviting three people to lunch today during the next two weeks. Then sending out three follow-up emails today to confirm those meetings.

Then tomorrow you call a former client and ask how his business is doing. You ask about his goals for the future and offer to help him achieve them.

On Thursday you reach out to someone you met at your kid’s PTA meeting. You ask him/her to introduce you to the general counsel of his/her company.

Each day you take small steps toward your goal and each day your ability to commit to relationship development grows stronger.

Finally, at the end of the month you review everything you’ve done. This reinforces your ability to commit to a plan of action.

The Fear of Failure

What if the change you make isn’t for the better? What will people think of you? People will laugh at you if you fail, and you’ll be embarrassed.

A great way to approach this fear is to reflect upon successful people who have had very public failures and still managed to recover.

One of my favorite examples concerns the repeated public failures of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lost his job as a clerk in a general store in 1831.

He ran for the Illinois state legislature in 1832 and lost. In 1943 he failed to win his party’s nomination for a congressional seat.

He tried running for the Illinois Senate in 1854. He lost. In 1858 he unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate again.

After each of those defeats, people laughed at Lincoln, yet in 1860, he was elected the 16th President of the United States.

He has become one of history’s most respected figures. Most people do not know about his previous failures or that people laughed at him each time.

The lesson to be learned is that history will be the ultimate judge of your success. You should not fear failure; each time you fail you are taking another step closer toward success.

The best way to face down this fear is to familiarize yourself with the future new relationships will bring into your life.

One great relationship can result in 30 speaking engagements. Each of those could lead to five future clients. That means one relationship could be worth 150 new clients for you. You may fail to connect with ten people while finally finding this one great opportunity.

The Fear of Disapproval

Other people may not like the change you’ve made, even if that change improves your life. When it comes to making a change, gaining approval can be the wind in your sails. When people who are important to you are skeptical or disagree with you, you feel like you are running up hill.

When we were kids, we all craved the approval of our parents and the elders in our social environment. People who grow up never gaining the approval of their parents (or other influential individuals) can often have a fear of disapproval that will limit their career progression.

Successful business leaders are confident in their ideas and don’t require outside validation. In fact, they are motivated to prove others wrong. Because these people are unique, it is no surprise to them when others do not approve of their actions or their ideas.

At the end of the day the only person you have to answer to is yourself. You owe yourself every opportunity to succeed. If you let an opportunity pass you by because you are concerned about the disapproval of another person, you are robbing yourself. You can’t let someone else determine your fate.

Ignore unsolicited feedback and opinions.

The Fear of Success

As much as you want to be the best, you’re afraid that if you actually achieve more, others will dislike you, shun you, and think you’re arrogant. You may also feel that the pressure of being successful may be too great a load to bear or that you will never live up to the expectations of others.

It is true that it is easier to get to the top than it is to stay on top. This is partially due to increased competition and increased expectations that come along with success. However, the rewards of high achievement far outweigh the burden of the duty and responsibility associated with staying there.

People who dislike you when you attempt to control your own career destiny are not your friends. They might say things like, “You have a perfectly good job now” or “Why are you wasting your time with a book or learning program?”

The best approach to take with a naysayer is to understand her motivations. First, mediocrity loves company. Deep down, insecure people resent the success of others in their peer group. Your success only highlights their mediocrity.

Second, as you move toward your career goals, you may have less in common with those who do not take control of their own destiny. They may sense this and push you away. Third, your focus on self-improvement may temporarily shift your focus away from the attention you have previously given to other people, which causes them to resent you.

How you handle these individuals is entirely up to you. I prefer to thank my friends and relatives for their concern and then continue on with my aggressive pursuit of success. Once the people who really care about me gain a sense of how success has changed my life, they become supportive.

These are the most common subconscious fears that limit our success. The first step in conquering them is to recognize their existence in our lives.

How may of these have an impact upon you?

Here are three additional articles you should read to boost your sales:

Eliminate Guilt and Sell More

Guilt will absolutely destroy your sales and stop your career dead in its tracks. Eliminate guilt from your life and you will be more successful.

When It Comes to Business Success, These Five Keys Open All Doors

There are many things that lead to success. Here are five you can work on right now.

The Easy Way to Get Better Clients

Here is your step-by-step guide to getting better clients. Follow it today and you will make more money.