I want you to be honest with yourself. Are these two types of fear holding you back?
- Fear of Judgement
- Fear of failure
Chances are they are holding you back or they have held you back in the past.
Fear of Judgement
Looking back on history, it is evident that many individuals that are admired now, were ridiculed during their time. Take Galileo for instance, now glorified for all of history, when he suggested that it wasn’t the earth that was the center of the universe but the sun, he was publicly mocked and mercilessly condemned. The church turned society against him and branded him a crazy lunatic. Harsh.
We all fear being judged and exiled but sooner or later I think it’s healthy to come to the realization that there is no escaping judgement from at least someone. No matter how talented, how kind, how considerate, or how intelligent we are, our perspectives and lifestyles are unique and are going to be at odds with how some individuals choose to live their lives. There will be no point in your life where you will be praised by everyone.
Think about it, even the most powerful leader of the free world experiences judgement. Judgement escapes absolutely no one.
If we know this is the case, then we should learn to cope with judgement. While many of us cope with the idea of judgement by trying to please everyone else: society, our friends, our family, our parents, our neighbors, and acquaintances. I’ve begun to realize that the only real opinion that matters is our own. As soon as you have this realization you experience sweet freedom.
Beginning in my late 20s I started to move away from focusing on judgement. Here are three reasons why:
- Imperfection is relatable and endearing. While I have traditionally always been about putting “my best foot forward”, impressing others, or appearing as close to perfect as possible, I’ve started to realize the flaws with taking these approaches. You may make a good first impression, but I’ve realized that ultimately imperfection is refreshing to others. In other words, no one can relate to a human being that appears perfect all the time. What’s even more interesting is that no one really likes to be around humans that appear perfect all the time. Ever sat down for dinner with someone who has PERFECT dinner etiquette? You may be impressed with how “classy” they appear but for GOD SAKE if they start using a fork and knife instead of picking up their chicken wing you immediately feel like they’re being uptight or like you can’t be yourself around them.
- Vulnerability is powerful and can help us form deeper connections. Sometimes it can be hard revealing our weaknesses, but I found that humans are more empathetic than we give them credit for. The other day, I was watching The Bachelorette and one of the contestants, Colton revealed that he was a virgin. It was a very difficult moment for him, especially since he is 26, grew up an athlete, and experienced a lot of talk centered on sex in the locker room. Watching him have the courage to speak his truth, no matter how painful and humiliating, made me root for him even more. This is true in real life scenarios too.
- Living in your authentic truth is effortless. Sometimes we spend so much brain power overthinking and over analyzing. Time spent stewing in your own thoughts is time wasted. It’s exhausting always trying to “look good”. No matter how much effort you put into being this way, you won’t always look good. Be yourself. This will be enough to the people that matter.
Fear of Failure
Now that I’ve lived on this earth for 30 years I’ve realized that failure is not as uncommon as we think. Three things have helped me cope with failure:
- Failure is part of success. Every “great” that you can think of has experienced SOME set back and has failed at some point in time. I know this because, this is the precise reason why they are great! An important distinction for me was learning that failure actually contributes to success because it contributes to detailed learning. It makes you more creative and more strategic towards your goals. In the past, I thought that failure only contributed to growth in that it made you mentally tough. In other words, I thought failure was just a hurdle that we had to learn to jump over, that we had to push through, not that we could directly benefit from. Now, I see that failure itself can actually teach us to “jump higher” and work smarter. For example, when I was a senior in college, I wasn’t one of those students who secured a full time job during the year while I was still in school. This frustrated me. I thought I had failed. Then, I had to start looking for a job after I had graduated in the middle of an economic recession. I used to think that this situation made me stronger because it helped developed perseverance, which is true it did. But the real value for me, came from the practice of job seeking. I had to interview over and over and I learned a valuable skill set because I didn’t get the first job I interviewed for. I learned how about the power of storytelling and networking. I learned how to be strategic about my career and eventually (after years of experience) I landed a job at a great investment bank.
- Realizing failure is not a personal problem. “The truth is there is no such thing as a personal problem. If you’ve got a problem chances are thousands of other people have had it in the past.” I love this quote from The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. When you fail at something it can leave you feeling incompetent, less confident, and out right dumb – depending on how self critical you are. Sometimes it helps to understand that the same things that have happened to you have happened to someone else and will happen to someone else. Not because you want other people to be miserable but just because it helps you to realize that you are human. The bottom line is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and skills to develop and improve upon. No one who has accomplished great things escapes failure all of their life.
- Hearing detailed accounts of other people’s failure and how they coped with it. It’s helpful to hear other stories of failures people experienced because I like to learn about how they bounced back. People overcome failure differently. I like to examine what strategies they employed and how they spin their situations and find the silver lining. It’s also interesting to learn about how far they’ve come. It is inspiring to hear that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and that J.K Rowling was rejected by tons of publishers. It helps you to understand that you should never undervalue yourself or let rejection define you. Instead it teaches you to recalibrate, work hard, and then go for the gold!