Over the years I have coached many managers, business owners and employees about facing their fears. Here are three typical examples: Jane operated a business which "failed," and now wants to start another, but is "fearful" of "failing again;" a group of employees said "they feared their boss; and, Joe lost his job and now "fears" for his future.
When I asked my partner about her thoughts on fear she said, "fear is the big elephant's mouse in the room." So let's take a look at this little rascal that makes the mighty elephant afraid.
First there are many positive things to say about fear. Fear keeps us from making stupid mistakes, spending money foolishly, and taking unnecessary risks. When an impending danger faces us we rightly react instinctively with a "freeze, flight or fight" response. But when fear stops us from going forward when we should be going forward, or running away from something when we shouldn't, or being overly anxious about something that is trivial, then it's time to take a hard look at how fear holds us hostage. If you are experiencing these later situations here are eight key questions to explore:
Now that you understand the nature of your fear, answer these four questions to begin moving forward.
Let's take another look at the three scenarios mentioned at the beginning of this post.
"Fear of failure."
There are probably many reasons why the first business wasn't successful. What could this person do? She should avoid the "failure trap" and think about how the first experience has taught her many good lessons. Looking at "failure" from this point of view may point her to greater success in her new business. She can also identify the weaknesses and the strengths of the first experience and treat them as learning opportunities; and then. avoid the mistakes and build on the strengths as she prepares for her second journey.
"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Robert Kennedy
"Fear of the boss."
What can the employees do? First they should review why they fear their boss and confront their own fears; secondly, respectfully approach the boss and discuss the negative consequences of his behavior has on them and the culture of the organization; and thirdly, if the situation doesn't change they could seek alternate employment or, accept the givens and recognize that this is the boss's problem and not the employees.
"A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting." - Russell H. Ewing
"Fear of the future."
No one can predict the future with any certainty but one thing I do know is that there is "life" after leaving a place of employment. In this case the person can look at her previous employment with an objective eye and review the results he achieved, understand his own work style and skill sets, and build a resume that outlines these qualities and achievements. This is an opportunity for him to seek the type of employment he always wanted, find a better "employment fit" for his profile and skill sets, or become self-employed. Rather than fear the future, embrace it with a positive attitude and recognize it is filled with opportunity.
"The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future." Audrey Hepburn
Consider all the courageous people who overcame their fear and accomplished great things for themselves and human kind. Yes, they were afraid but they broke through their fear barrier - often with the help of others and a Higher Power. Confront the mouse in your room and you may find it's just a tiny thing anyway.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC
Revised article from Fontanie Learning Solutions