Question: I’ve made great progress toward becoming successful but I find myself feeling a great deal of fear at times. I know that I’m afraid of failure and all the consequences associated with it and I know it is holding me back. How do I overcome this fear?

Answer: Fear kills. It kills dreams, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Fear can be paralyzing. You are wise to declare that you want to overcome it. Some people say that fear can be motivating – that having a bit of fear is a good thing. I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I can find plenty of positive things to motivate me and the negativity of fear is not one of them. Removing fear from our consciousness is a process and should be treated as such. I realize that this may sound somewhat clinical but I’ve found that gaining a thorough understanding of the root of a fear is an important first step.

Over the years I’ve heard entrepreneurs discuss a myriad of fears including public speaking, losing a big client, encountering poor health, financial issues, entering into a romantic relationship – you name it and I’ve heard it. But overcoming these fears has one thing in common. The root cause of the fear must be identified before it can be resolved. Doing this may require some introspection and more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Thirty years ago I found myself flying on airplanes every week. I had a young family at the time and developed a severe fear of getting on a plane. My stomach was tied up in knots; I began to sweat; I’d feel faint, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was all I could do to force myself to walk down the jet way. I was convinced that the odds were against me and plane was going to crash. After months of trying to fight the anxiety I finally began to search for the root cause. I realized I was afraid of leaving my small children without a father – and to some extent I was afraid of death itself. I worked with my minister to understand where this came from and gradually the fear disappeared. Having always been fascinated with airplanes I began studying the mechanics of flight, started taking flying lessons and eventually bought a plane of my own. How’s that for turning the tables on fear?

My dad had a terrific saying, “Your troubles are like the clouds. Tomorrow they will be gone.” Our fears can also be like dissipating clouds if we don’t try to fight or suppress them. Instead we must go inward and find the source of our fear. Then gently and easily we release it to be replaced with confidence and faith.   

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

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