FEAR. DOUBT. WORRY.
As business leaders and humans, we’ve all experienced fear, doubt and worry from to time but these three little gremlins can take a toll on our overall success. They are sneaky and pervasive if they go unchecked. They show up as that small, scared voice inside that holds us back from achieving our dreams and goals. It’s easy to let life circumstances knock us down and shake our confidence but with the right skills, tools and practice these little scoundrels can be tamed.
Let’s talk about fear, doubt and worry – whether its fear of rejection, failure, not doing it the right way (perfectionism) or even a fear of looking bad, fear shows up in business as procrastination, avoiding conflict, call reluctance or indecision. Fear has supervisors keep problem employees too long. Doubt has leaders spend too much time perfecting the wrong tasks rather than stepping outside a comfort zone to accomplish what really matters.
I have seen business leaders and sales people miss their goals because of reluctance to call a prospect. Self-doubt shows up and they are paralyzed by what “might” happen – a perceived rejection or fear of looking bad in front of the prospect they haven’t even called yet. The devious voice of doubt is also present when we second guess ourselves, engage in people-pleasing or fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.
Fear and doubt easily spiral into worry. More emphasis is placed on imagined outcomes and scenarios, or what “might” happen, rather than what actually is happening. Working together, fear, doubt and worry can paralyze even the most accomplished leader. The key is to be aware when they creep in and then tackle them head on.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
Skills, Tools and Practice
1) Awareness – When you are experiencing fear, doubt, worry and begin to feel immobilized, ask yourself how real is the imagined situation? What’s the worst case scenario? How true is this belief or how likely is it that the worst case scenario will actually happen and so then what if it does? What will you do then? I was working with someone who was experiencing major reluctance in sharing her new business endeavor with her network of previous clients and acquaintances. If the worst case scenario is that the prospect will resist, be uninterested and think less of you for the business endeavor you’re sharing, how bad would that truly be? Will you still be alive if they laugh or are not interested?
Can your business thrive without this prospect becoming a client? Will you still believe in your product or business? You have to be clear about your beliefs, stand strong – and keep going!
“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” – Unknown
2) Create a Plan – Get clear on what you want, why you want it and put together a plan that addresses obstacles you may have to overcome. I am a big believer in written plans. There is something magical and clarifying in writing it down, committing ideas to paper, that brings them to life. Include in your plan your vision of what you want and why you want it. For more information about vision read my blog, Is the Cheshire Cat Running Your Business. Your plan should also incorporate what you will do if the worst case scenario does come true (and again how likely is it that it would actually happen.) If you are committed to what you want and why you want it, your plan will help you keep going when the fears, doubts and worries try to sneak back in.
3) Get help – In reading my earlier blog, Business Growth – you’re not supposed to go it alone, you know I am also a believer in outside help – learning from books or classes, motivational quotes, talking things over with a friend or working with a trusted advisor or coach. Fear, doubt and worry typically reside inside our minds so stepping outside of that pervasive way of thinking and seeking new perspectives is important! Surround yourself with trusted allies whether they be colleagues, friends, or mentors.
4) Practice – and create a habit – Changing habits takes time and practice as does combating fear, doubt and worry. Simply tackling this once, does not mean these self-sabotaging thoughts won’t creep back in. Now that you have created a plan for overcoming your fear, doubt and worry, it’s time to practice. I recommend proactively practicing every day. Spend time focusing on your plan, reading your affirmations and uplifting quotes, and/or reviewing the strategies you’ve outlined with your trusted advisor. Focus on your successes and positive client feedback to remind yourself that you can do this and to quiet that small, negative voice. Create a routine, perhaps first thing in the morning, or a few minutes at the end of the day, to shift into a confident mindset. Practice, practice, practice!
Do not let fear, doubt and worry run your business. You and your business will be far more successful if you are aware when these thoughts creep in, you create a plan to address these negative ideas, and you routinely practice how to tackle business problems from a more positive and strategic mindset. Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference!
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson