How To Turn Your Biggest Fears Into Opportunity
The fear of failure
The most common fear is a fear of failure. We all fear not being good enough. Not being good enough to start a new business, or take a class, or try something new. If you let it, fear of failure will keep you from trying, period. And it will keep you from doing your best. You won't give 100 percent because you're too afraid of giving your all and failing. Instead, you won't put very much effort in at all...because then, if it doesn't work out, it's not as if you really put yourself out there anyway, right? If you are afraid to fail so much that you don't even try, then you are holding yourself back.
Don't be afraid to take a risk. Don't be afraid to follow your dreams and your heart. If you are passionate about a project or new venture, go for it. If it doesn't work out, you'll use that experience to learn, grow, and get stronger.
One of the most valuable lessons my dad taught me was to follow my dreams and to be persistent. If I didn't achieve my dream on the first try, then he'd encourage me to try again. He'd always say, "Keep going; keep trying; never give up." It doesn't matter whether you're first or last as long as you're headed toward the finish line.
I tell myself, "You don't fail until you stop trying." If you have a goal and you're moving forward and getting closer to realizing it, then you're not failing. There may be some setbacks along the way. It may not be a straight path to the finish line, but with each obstacle, with each challenge, you're growing and getting stronger.
Once we look at those situations that challenge us as opportunities for growth, then we can never fail. You have to think, "This challenge is not me failing; this is me getting stronger."
The fear of judgment
I was bashed along with others on social media because I'd chosen to work with a company that was accused of behaving badly. Lots of people said I should sever my ties with them and criticized me for my decision not to. Anger-filled messages came from every corner. I didn't budge or go low. I was confident in my choice, and I stood up for myself, my friends who had also decided to keep working with the company, and my community of followers who supported me. I would not have been able to do that a couple of years ago. Back then, I was too scared—scared I would get hurt if I spoke up, scared I wouldn't say the right things. Back then, the fear of judgment kept me quiet.
Today I know that I'm not always going to say the right things, and that's OK. I'm speaking up, making my voice heard, and that alone makes a difference. The goal isn't to be perfect. It's to make progress, to get better and better along the way. To put yourself out there regardless of what people think—and let the chips fall where they may.
Speak your truth—even when your voice shakes.
Deciding which athletic scholarship for college to choose paralyzed me with indecision. What if I picked wrong? The stakes were high for me. This was the most important step toward my goals of getting a degree and qualifying for the Olympics. I was so afraid to choose. What if I didn't get along with the coach or the program didn't fit my needs? What if the other athletes were much better than me, and I flamed out and got cut from the team? What if I couldn't handle the academics and lost my scholarship? What would my friends and family say if I messed up this amazing opportunity? I could hear them already: "Why did you do that? That was so stupid." It was the most pressure I'd ever felt.
Eventually, I had to make a decision, and I did. We fear being judged for making the "wrong" decision just as much as we fear failure. But wrong to whom? Better to make a decision, even if it turns out to be the wrong decision for you, than to not make any decision at all. At least by making a decision, you're moving forward. If it turns out to be a mistake, you can learn from it. If you don't make a decision at all, you don't have a chance to grow.
Nothing is worse than having someone else make a decision for you. We are each unique spiritual beings. We each have a unique purpose in life. When you let someone else dictate what that purpose is, it's impossible to live your own truth. Advice, even if well meant, is really someone else telling you what's in their heart and soul. You're not living from your spiritual heart if you just mindlessly follow them. Don't let the fear of judgment take that away from you. Follow your heart.