Career Confidence Life Lessons Personal Growth

Do Not Let Fear Hold You Back

Nothing holds people back from unleashing their full potential and becoming the best version of themselves more than fear. Fear paralyses dreams, prevents firms from achieving major milestones and is the root cause as to why so many end up going to their grave with all of their talents, hopes and wishes still unexpressed. However, what makes all the difference as to whether your fears paralyse you or catapult you to new heights depends on your reaction and response to the fear.

“Fear can be good when you’re walking past an alley at night or when you need to check the locks on your doors before you go to bed, but it’s not good when you have a goal and you’re fearful of obstacles. We often get trapped by our fears, but anyone who has had success has failed before.”

Queen Latifah

Fear is a strange emotion; those of us who are being held back due to fear of failure are most likely the ones who will actually fail in the end because we are not courageous enough to try something different. Failure would be irrelevant if we are not afraid of it in the first place. Some fears are easier to overcome than others. If you are looking for a magical pill that could erase all the fears you have today, you are just wasting your time and energy. However, there are ways you can follow to beat your fear.

For starters, always remember the phrase, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Seeking perfectionism in everything you do can inflict more harm than good. Now, I am not saying that it is wrong to climb to the mountain peak. I mean, who would not want to receive a commendation for their stellar performance at work or an award certificate to commemorate their exceptional contribution to a charitable cause?

However, your insatiable hunger to be the best of the best has to live synchronously with your ability to deal with it when you underperform. Your ambition to succeed must be greater than your fear of facing setbacks. Otherwise, your failure will get the better of you, and once it has a firm grip on your state of mind, it is difficult to move on to another chapter of your life.

The Nirvana Fallacy

Have you heard of this informal fallacy before? For those who do not know what it means, the Nirvana fallacy refers to the tendency to assume that there is a perfect remedy to a given issue. Rational human beings would understand that if a perfect answer is non-existent, it is pointless to pursue a solution entirely.

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali

Here is an example: once could assert that having seat belts in cars is pointless because people will perish in car crashes. Yes, seat belts cannot make driving completely safe. However, it neglects the fact that the objective is reduction, not complete elimination of the danger–seat belts reduce one’s likelihood of being killed in a car crash. At times, your remedies to a particular problem will fall short of perfect. However, that does not mean you have wasted your precious time and effort.

Fears of failure, being insufficient, or rejection have held me back from numerous opportunities in my life. I will never discover the outcomes because my fear of the unknown has forced me to remain inside my comfort zone. I decided not to apply for scholarships or jobs outside of my field of study because I believed that I am an unsuitable candidate for anything. What is the point of me pursuing a new career opportunity elsewhere if I know I will never be perfect? The Nirvana fallacy is definitely a pain in the buttocks.

Failing deliberately

This may sound weird to some of you, but one of the most compelling ways to beat your fear into submission is to fail on purpose. Fret not, I am aware that there is a massive stigma around failure itself. When an opportunity to share our success stories comes, we are more than happy to take it. However, we do not share our failures because they are viewed as embarrassing and demoralising. However, what if we can turn it around? What if we could perceive failures for what they indeed are: essentials of life? Failure means your endeavour took a wrong turn, but your drive to experiment your way to success remains the same.

“Every failure is a step to success.”

William Whewell

One of the most compelling approaches I have ever come across is a person whose aim is to fail each day. That person’s name is Jason Comely. He recognised that fear was holding him back from the things he wants to have in life. So one day, he made the decision to make a game of failure, an exposure therapy of sorts. He would ask favours from strangers, knowing very well that most of his attempts would fail. To weaken the sting of failure over time, he committed himself to fail each day. The more failures he encountered, the less failure could bite him back. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from him – failing frequently perhaps is a step in the right direction.

You saw this approach from a mile away. I am confident. However, *adds Nike slogan.* Remove the bandage. There is no denying that the fear of exploring a whole new dimension is often worse than the fear while doing it, especially if you get into it swiftly. Make no time to overthink it – you got ample time to do that later on after applying for your dream job.

In the meantime, suit up and present your best self. If the worst that can happen does happen, you just earned yourself a pearl of wisdom on writing better cover letters. Again, get a move on first, think later.

Final 2¢: The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

If you have been waiting for the right time to do what terrifies you to the core, whether it is overcoming your fear of swimming in the ocean or it is joining a group fitness class, or it is something I did not mention in this article (but you have been pondering about it for some time), then this is your moment. Seize it.

Pro tip: any time is the right time.

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