I was reading some blogs a few days ago and found one that was talking about fear and the ability to overcome adversity.
This particular topic really struck a chord with me as I started to reflect on how fear has impacted my life. I know many people, including myself, at times let this four letter word “Fear” paralyze our ability to progress and grow.
I can recall a few times in my life that I have let fear alter my path.
When I look back one major event that fear caused a change in the course and direction of my life was when I left a Full Football Athletic scholarship.
I remember that day I walked away from my dreams and aspiration of playing Football Collegiately. It was a devastating decision all based on fear of failure. When I say fear of failure you would assume it was the fear of failing on the football field! No, it was not even close to the truth. On the field and in the realm of athletics was where I have excelled. Athletics have always come more natural to me and I have always felt at home and at my best when competing.
The real fear that was clouding my mind and ultimately caused me to walk away from a love and passion that I had worked all my youth and young adult years trying to accomplish, was the fear of failure in the class room. You see, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was in the third grade. This diagnosis and stigma that I was labeled caused that self-doubt to creep into my mind at a young age. I let this stigma and the negative belief control my thoughts during my youth and into my college career.
When I walked away from my Athletic scholarship I transferred schools and dedicated my time and effort to become the best student I could. The fear of failure turned into a real motivator for me and I was determined not become a failure. With the added pressure of being the first in my family to pursue higher education this new environment was really unexplored territory for me. I spent countless hours and endless dedication with my studies during my undergraduate work.
Those fears of failure and that stigma of having Dyslexia changed my path with athletics but I used that fear as a motivation to drive me, and I graduated Cum Laude with my degree in Exercise Science. At that time in my life having graduated college and addressing the fear that changed the course of my life you would presume my personal growth and self-confidence would have kept my fear at bay.
Not long after I had graduated with my undergraduate degree I had to make another major decision in my life with deciding to pursue my master’s degree. All the hard work and dedication to my education allowed me the opportunity to complete my master’s degree with an assistantship.
I was offered the assistantship and you would assume I would jump all over the opportunity, but that four letter word had crept back into my mind again. The fear of failure was back and I remember contemplating whether I was smart enough to complete a master’s degree. The self-doubt and fear was so strong I really needed some positive reinforcement. I decided to speak with my Exercise Physiology Professor to ask her if I was smart enough to complete the graduate program. I, to this day, still remember the conversation and the way she laughed when I questioned my own intelligence. My professor reassured me that I had the skillset and intelligence to complete the master’s degree program.
You see, I let fear totally alter my mindset and confidence so much that I was discounting my previous accomplishments. If I would have let fear win once more I would have walked away from another scholarship. At that moment in my life, I decided to take fear on and I was okay if I experienced failure. I did not want fear to win another battle and change the course of my life without a fight. Deep down, I knew effort and consistency would help concur the master’s program.
The topic of fear and failure will continue to be a battle in my mind and I have to develop and change my mindset towards fear and failure. I talk with individuals on a daily basis that are struggling with fear and they let it hold them back. As a coach, you see the potential in every individual and most of the time it is your obligation to help develop that positional. You see people let fear control their actions and most of the time they will start to build barriers around success and develop the mindset of not being worthy. Then, they typically self-sabotage and mentally beat themselves down if they cannot accomplish the simplest of challenges.
If you really evaluate and peel back the layers on fear, you will be surprised to find what is deep inside this scary word. I challenge you to look at fear and try to understand it for what it is. Fear is an unpleasant emotion that is caused by a belief. You see, most of the time you create your own fear and you build the story in your mind that something bad will happen. You can 100% control your own mindset and thought process on fear and the aspect of failure. I am not saying that you should ignore fear! Especially if you are hiking a mountain trail and a bear is spotted 100 yards away, you should use fear to get yourself away from that bear. What I am saying is understand your situation and the mindset and thought process of fear and failure before you let it totally paralyze your actions.
When I started to reflect back and understand how my growth, development, and experiences helped me understand fear appropriately. I came up with a few strategies that can may help you:
- Strengthen your knowledge base by reading books and networking with people who are going to force you to grow.
- Join a Mastermind or Accountability group to create a positive environment to challenge you and help push your mindset
- Hire a coach to help guide you through the process.
You will continue to face fear and challenges in your life. Sometimes you might fail at that challenge or you let fear control your mindset. Try not to beat yourself up over the fear of failure, and continue to understand the situation. I let fear hold me back early on in my life and it will continue to challenge me, but I will not let fear control me.