I remember working with a young woman who wanted to start her own business. Things weren’t going well and I was working to help her figure out what was holding her back. I asked her to do a brief beliefs exercise and list the qualities of the type of person who would own a successful small business.
Here is a partial of her list:
I mulled over the list and had to agree that these were all very positive qualities. I expected that she may have some negative beliefs that were holding her back. Oftentimes, people will use words like greedy, selfish, workaholic, or other terms that could have a negative connotation, which would give me something to work with.
What I discovered, as I questioned her more, was that in her mind she was intelligent, hard-working, talented, but when it came to fearless, she said, “I'm afraid all the time. I'm afraid to do this. I'm afraid to do that. That's why I can never be a successful business person.”
Her belief was, in order to be a business person or successful, you had to be fearless. I explained that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, most people in business, successful people, have just as many fears and doubts as anyone else, especially in the beginning. By overcoming those fears, by facing those fears, they begin to diminish and take control of them. I reminded her too, that new fears would arise, every time something changes, or something new comes along. That's just the way it is; it's part of life. We can't deny it. We have to learn to accept it. Change creates situations where we feel uncomfortable. It's part of the unknown. It's the anticipation that something may happen or go wrong which creates the fear.
We need to understand and learn to accept a couple things. 1) Most fear is in our imaginations; fear is the anticipation of something. 2) Everyone feels fear, from the person just beginning to the person who's at the very top.
We need to acknowledge our fear, even if it’s only to ourselves because that is the first step to conquering them. As Emerson said, “Do the things you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
We become successful for being persistent, especially with our fears. Success is certain to those who are persistent with their fears. And of course, who could forget Aristotle who said, “I count him (or her) braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.”