If you’ve created a level of success and yet you find yourself worrying that all you’ve built will come crashing down around you at some point, trust me when I say that you aren’t alone.
I’ve worked with MANY women who worry that their business or career (or even relationship) will one day crumble or go away… but although this fear is a shared one, it’s not helpful, it’s a hindrance—to your company/career, to your bank account, and to your overall health.
You see, when you fear failure, you often end up setting yourself up for it!
- You shy away from putting yourself out there…. because on some level, you worry that more visibility will equal more embarrassment/humiliation if you don’t achieve the goals you set out to.
- You play it safe, setting yourself ‘reasonable’ targets rather than desirable ones in an attempt to reduce the risk of pain… as you know the higher you climb, the further you’ll have to fall.
- You’re riddled with fear and anxiety on a regular basis which drains your energy and makes it challenging to take action toward your goals.
- You sabotage potential (or current) relationships due to the fear of getting too close and being disappointed or experiencing loss.
Are you ready to elevate the way you think about failure so you can reach the next level?
Okay, good… let’s reframe.
1. Start by identifying what you’re REALLY afraid of.
Lots of people think they fear failure… but in my experience, it’s not usually about the business they’re trying to build or the career ladder they’re attempting to climb… or on the more personal side of things, the house they’re trying to buy or the baby they’re trying to have. Rather, they’re scared of what not succeeding says about them.
What have you made your success and failure mean? Maybe you think that your success would be evidence that you’re smart and your failure that you’re dumb? Or that if your business succeeds you’ll be accepted by the other, high achievers around you and if it fails, that you won’t be—that you’ll be cast aside and ostracized?
As Susan Jeffers says in her book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, there are actually THREE levels of fear:
- Level 1 Fears: Things that require action, like building a business generally speaking, or smaller actions within it, like asserting oneself or being interviewed or public speaking…
- Level 2 Fears: Like success and failure (well done, we’re already one step ahead)….
- And Level 3 Fears: Basically—that you can’t handle the Level 2 Fear, because of what you THINK comes with it.
She also says that all you have to do to diminish your fear, is to develop more trust in your ability to handle what comes your way.
That’s what I did, too…I followed my fear and realized that even if it happened (bankruptcy, for example) I’d just rebuild my business. And I’d probably do it faster than before because of what and who I know now. Once I realized that that was literally the worst scenario, I wasn’t scared anymore.
So if you’re worried about losing people in your network with whom you could collaborate—perhaps you should do some work around why you feel it’s necessary to rely/depend on others for your business’s growth? Do you lack belief in yourself and your abilities? Or are you lacking a skill that you would do well to learn so you don’t need to partner up?
Or if you’re worried that people will think you’re dumb rather than smart—perhaps you should make efforts to understand why you think you aren’t intelligent in the first place, and why you feel the need to have others validate how clever you are?
Spend some time journaling around what you’re REALLY afraid of happening and how you might better handle that, so your fears don’t prevent you from taking action.
2. Find out where your fear of failure came from.
We can, pretty easily, reflect on our past and understand where our MONEY mentality came from—whether it was from our Mom who said that “money doesn’t grow on trees” or our Dad who said “good things are hard to come by”… and guess what? Our fear mentality is no different.
I wonder whether you were excessively praised for your achievements, like doing well in sport or getting good grades at school? And over-sanctioned when you didn’t excel quite as much—perhaps your parents had pretty high expectations of you, and gave you more attention, love or care when you were head and shoulders above other people than when you were accomplishing the same things as your peers?
When you pinpoint where your fear of failure comes from, you can heal the wound much more easily; you can reverse engineer the steps you need to take to get back to a time when you weren’t so afraid. And you’ll probably start to realize that your fears aren’t actually your fears at all—they’re adopted from someone else and you can release them now.
3. Get clear on the actions you’d take if you didn’t fear failure.
What would you do if you were guaranteed to succeed at it? Or rather, if you knew you could HANDLE anything that came your way even if you didn’t succeed at it?
Maybe you’d show up more online, or launch a program that’s more aligned with your true vision and values? Maybe you’d write the book, or launch the podcast (or the YouTube channel, even) that you’ve been meaning to for years?
Maybe you’d pivot your business—take it in a different direction. Or torch your current model because you have a better one in mind? Perhaps you’d do more direct outreach, or start taking your own sales calls instead of outsourcing them to other people? Or you’d reduce your workload to take better care of your mental and physical health?
I often find that the actions we avoid taking, the ones that we experience the most resistance around, are the things we should actually be making a priority. As Marianne Williamson says:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 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, talented, 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 that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
4. Change how you hold fear.
As I explained earlier, you’re not really scared of your business or relationship crumbling, you’re scared that you won’t be able to handle the consequences if it did… which means—the real issue has nothing to do with the fear itself, but how you hold the fear.
(Stick with me.)
Unpopular opinion: everyone is scared. All the time. Particularly when doing something difficult or trying something new. But whereas some feel the fear and do it anyway (as Susan Jeffers’ book is aptly titled) because they hold their fear from a position of POWER—of choice, of energy or of action… others feel the fear and halt in their tracks, because they hold their fear from a position of PAIN—of helplessness, depression or paralysis.
One of the best ways to shift from a mindset of pain to power and change the way you hold fear so you can take the steps necessary to succeed is with words. You can reprogram your thought patterns neuro-linguistically with great ease, as the hard part isn’t what you have to do… the hard part is being disciplined enough to keep consistent with it long enough for it to work…
…which is why so much of success is an inside job…and our clients know that. For example, in the I Heart My Life Membership, not only do we equip our clients with the tips and tools to rewire their brain, we hold them accountable for using them regularly, so that they see results.
Now let’s look at some vocabulary shifts, shall we? Don’t underestimate the importance of these, by the way—this is the kind of work I did to hit 7 figures within 18 months in my own business, and I support clients to help them make millions of their own.
- Instead of saying “I can’t” (painful, or victim vocabulary), try saying “I won’t, because I’m not prioritizing it” (powerful, or hero vocabulary).
- Instead of saying “I should”, try saying “I would” or even “I will”
- Instead of saying “it’s not my fault”, try “I’m totally responsible”
- Instead of saying “it’s a problem”, try “it’s an opportunity”
- Instead of saying “I’m never satisfied”, try “I want to learn and grow”
Do you feel the difference?
“I hope” is another victim’s phrase. Try saying “I know”.
And “I don’t know what to do”. Try saying “I look forward to finding out how to handle this”.
The more empowered you feel, the less fearful you’ll feel, and the easier it’ll be for you to build your business. Because here’s the thing, Lovely—fear will always be with you, for every single ride through life. You just have to be in control of it enough such that it never gets to drive or even touches the radio… (As taken from Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing book Big Magic.)
5. Prepare practically for the ‘worst’.
And finally, now, with all that being said, I don’t want to end this post without saying that whilst internal work is great, it works best in tandem with something external, like bulletproof strategies that ensure you win anything you battle—from marketing to hiring. The more you fail to prepare, the more you prepare to fail, as the old adage goes, so make sure you put plans in place that support your goals, and surround yourself with people who will support you, too like in the I Heart My Life Membership.