When we caught up last time (yes, I am treating this like our face-to-face conversations), I extended the invite for you to step into the arena and to write down what you’ve been holding back on. For example, holding yourself accountable to create a new habit, become healthier or meet new people. Or it could be related to your work – a new idea, a different approach or stepping up as a leader to challenge the status quo. And, for you to list the reasons why you were holding back.
If you are like me and most humans, fear is the number one reason for what is holding you back. In particular, irrational fear. What I mean by this is the self-created kind – made up from assumptions we have about an imaginary future.
So, I’m going to step you through the 6 most common fears and their antidotes but first we need to reframe the whole concept of fear. This is because how you perceive fear will determine how you respond to it. My method? I choose to view fear as an opportunity for growth.
You see, fears highlight potential and when you choose to acknowledge and face into them, our fears can show us where our biggest opportunities for growth lie – the pathway to our potential, if you like. And here’s the thing, irrational fears are always there, just under the surface, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. So, let’s just acknowledge and overcome together!
1. Fear of failure
Typical manifestations: Refuse opportunities to try new things; don’t stick with things long enough; quit early in
Typical mindset: If I fail, I am a failure
Antidote: A good dose of persistence! Combined with reframing failure as feedback.
Mindset motto: Experiment to learn – the sooner I start, the sooner I’ll get feedback and, with persistence, the closer I’ll be to fulfilling my potential.
2. Fear of success (ironically!)
Typical manifestations: Hold back from opportunities; prioritise comfort over growth.
Typical mindset: If I succeed, everything will change and that feels uncomfortable because I will [be in the spotlight/lose control/feel inadequate or like an imposter] so I will avoid at all costs, usually by self-sabotage.
Antidote: A daily dose of ‘have a go’ to stretch comfort zone.
Mindset motto: Every day is ‘have a go’ day, where I will take one small step on my own pathway to potential.
3. Fear of not being good enough
Typical manifestations: Comparing against others; perfectionism; potential adoption of victim mindset.
Typical mindset: The gap between where I am now and where I should be is too great.
Antidote: Undertake an honest checklist of your strengths and areas for development. Then let go of comparing yourself to others and judging yourself too harshly.
Mindset motto: I am unique and I will use my unique strengths to fulfil my potential
4. Fear of humiliation
Typical manifestations: afraid of ‘looking bad’; exhibit defensive or protective behaviour; made-up stories to look good to others.
Typical mindset: What will I look like to others? How will others judge me?
Antidote: A good dose of self-love and reflect on your personal values – what you stand for as a person. The only person you need to impress is yourself!
Mindset motto: I will remain true to who I am and be proud of my personal growth journey.
5. Fear of loss
Typical manifestations: scared of change and any form of uncertainty; prepared to stay in a bad situation rather than taking a chance.
Typical mindset: It’s too risky, I can’t guarantee X so I will stay where I am.
Antidote: A walk in nature to gain perspective that the one thing in life which is guaranteed is change! The choice you have is whether you are proactive or reactive to change.
Mindset motto: I choose to be proactive in gaining control of my choices for change.
6. Fear of being wrong
Typical manifestations: avoid being wrong at all costs – being right is extremely important; unwilling to take on new ideas or concepts; strict adherence to outdated thinking.
Typical mindset: If I show vulnerability, others will spot a weakness and take advantage of me.
Antidote: A good dose of courage to recognise the ability to change your mind and adopt new positions/ideas is a sign of wisdom and personal growth.
Mindset motto: I am human and I choose to acknowledge that I am constantly growing which means I need to be flexible, adaptable and capable of adopting new ideas. This is healthy and what makes me human.
So, what fear or fears most drive you?
For me, it’s contextual but I am more prone to the fear of not being good enough. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it’s the driver behind why I’m ‘experimenting to learn’ with this In the Arena series – I’ve acknowledged that this is where my biggest opportunity for growth lies and now I’m taking action.
Now, some questions for you to reflect on:
- What fear are you most prone to? What fear is holding you back from stepping into the arena?
- How will you take action to administer the antidote for yourself? How will you hold yourself accountable?
Feel free to share your thoughts and responses below.
Welcome to the Arena!
I’m Dr Jess Murphy, Founder of Pathway to Your Potential Pty Ltd.
We collaborate with people and organisations at all levels, around the world, to enhance leadership effectiveness, drive more inclusive, higher performing cultures, and leverage difference in all its forms.
Want to challenge the status quo? Develop yourself, your team or shake up your organisation & industry? Join me in the arena as I share learnings, insights and importantly, dare greatly to take action.
Dr Jess Murphy – Founder
Having spent 20+ years in the corporate world holding various senior leadership roles, alongside her Adjunct Professorship in Business Leadership, Jess delivers a unique blend of pragmatism and cutting-edge insights to ensure immediate real-world application.
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