Cutting down road blocks to success

It is  common adage that courage is not the absence of fear but rather overcoming fear. The same is true for success. It is not about not being worried about the risks that you are taking, it is about having the wisdom to take the right risks and above all else, believing that you can and will succeed if you try hard enough. Check out these tips to using your fear in a useful way and accepting it. 

1. Fear of criticism

Many people are afraid to live their dreams for fear of what others may think and say about them. Recently, I received a letter from a college student. “My parents want me to finish my master’s degree, but I’m ready to start my business,” he wrote. “They would think I’m crazy if I dropped out now. What should I do?”

This is a common theme from many people. But making decisions based on what people think — even your closest friends and family — will debilitate you for the rest of your life. Instead, think about what these same people would say if you did achieve success. To this college student, my advice is to think about what your parents would say if your business did succeed — would they be proud of you? What if it was the best decision you’ve ever made? It very well could be.

2. Fear of poverty

Many people are stuck in “survival mode.”

“I’m 26 years old and I’m trapped in a cubicle for 40 hours a week,” a man recently wrote me. “I pay the bills and live an average life, but I know I can have a better job and reach my fullest potential. I’m tired of being bored and I want to use my gifts. However, I’m afraid that I’ll run out of money. What do you suggest?”

The fear of poverty is crippling. However, this young man did express in his email that he had $10,000 in savings, which would be enough to help him quit his job for a few months and look for his dream occupation or business. Too many people settle for mediocrity because they think they must “survive” instead of “thrive.” The fear of poverty should never hold you back from your dreams.

3. Fear of old age (and death)

There’s a certain age where many people quit at life. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Most people die at 25 and are buried at 75.” For some people, this metaphorical death — when they decide to settle for a mediocre lifestyle — comes earlier than 25. These people figure they can’t make it happen, so they end up quitting in advance.

Fear of old age can also be harmful when a person has to go through a major career transition. The thinking often goes something like this: “I’m 46. How do you expect me to learn about real estate if I’ve been in health insurance all my life? Plus, it has to work out perfectly, otherwise I won’t be able to support my family.”

In the end, however, age is far less important than your belief in yourself.

4. Fear of failure  

This is when most people ask the “what if” question. Except typically, they phrase it in a negative way such as: “What if it doesn’t work? What if no one likes it? What if it fails?”

These are the wrong questions. Instead of thinking about all the ways you may fail, concentrate on all the ways you may succeed! Even if you fail or make a mistake, it gives you a chance to reflect and correct. You must fail before you succeed. Every master was once a disaster. So go ahead and try!

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