In his bestselling book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams (creator of the Dilbert series) says that the most important trait in successful people is:
“Lack of fear of embarrassment.”
Let that sink in for a second.
What would you do if you just did not care about being embarrassed?
Would you start a YouTube channel? Speak up more in work meetings? Launch that side hustle as a business coach or a marketing consultant? Blog your heart out? Ask for a raise?
What could you be, do, or have?
Successful people remove the fear of embarrassment so anything – anything — becomes possible.
But fear of embarrassing ourselves manifests itself in a million ways, doesn’t it? It shows up as excuses. Or procrastination. It shows up as practicality: “Oh, I’d love to be a musician, but I can’t make money that way.” It shows up as confusion or ignorance: “I have no idea what my purpose is.”
Fear of embarrassment stops us from getting to where we want to be.
Here’s the skinny on fear:
According to Dan Baker, Ph.D., and Cameron Stauth, author of What Happy People Know, unless your fear is the protective force that stops you from doing something dangerous (like hitching a ride with a total stranger, for example) all fears belong to two groups. Yes, just two groups! All fears can be attributed to a belief in one of the following:
1. I’m not enough.
2. I don’t have enough.
As humans we haven’t evolved. Back in the day of the caveman, these fears were real. The result of them being actualized was certain death. If you weren’t fit, healthy, and strong, the tribe would leave you behind in order to survive. And if you didn’t have enough—meaning if you didn’t collect food every day and have the materials to give you shelter and warmth—you would perish.
Being enough in today’s world means being educated, connected, charming, smart, good-looking, thin, interesting…the list is endless—especially when you are busy comparing yourself to your peers.
Having enough means possessing the luxuries that we enjoy but that can also trap us—large home, fancy car, great closet, keeping up with our friends and dropping cash we don’t have on stuff we don’t need.
The circumstances are very different, but the two innate “reptilian brain” fears remain. Observe any fear in your life, and you’ll be able to attribute it to one of these two fear groups.
“I can’t tell that person I like them; he or she won’t possibly be attracted to me!”
“I can’t ask for more money at work, it’s not like I’m perfect at my job.”
“Who am I to start a business?”
“I can’t start a blog—no one wants to hear what I have to say.”
“I don’t want to go to that party. I’m not good with new people.”
These are all examples of the fear I am not enough.
What about these:
“Money is hard to come by.”
“John comes from a better family than I do…I’m embarrassed to introduce him to my parents.”
“Better to stick to the career I know than take a risk doing what I really would love to do and go broke.”
“Tom makes a lot more money than I do and always has nice things. I feel like he’s better than me.”
“I won’t buy those boots/that laptop/a gym membership—I worry about money.”
They are all examples of the fear I don’t have enough.
Not all of these examples will come down to fear for everyone.
Perhaps you’re more of an introvert than a party goer.
Maybe you’d rather save for a vacation or a down payment on a house than go shopping for clothes.
But only YOU know the true motivation behind statements you make or think. If your soul is stirred with a reason for not doing something that feels right and fair, great. If not—if your decisions leave you feeling insecure, small, and unsatisfied—fear has got you wrapped around its little finger, my friend.
Often, at the highest level, we avoid this introspection. We just want to fit in. We want other people to like and respect us. Our self-esteem is built on what other people like and respect—and that’s not necessarily what we really want. But we’re afraid to be different.
Once we start to identify these two beliefs that our fears are based on, they start to lose their paralyzing power over us. We can use our energy to work out what we really want and move forward to start the life that’s waiting for us without fear dragging us backward!
Where do you want to be in 2018? What dream are you waiting to actualize? Maybe there’s an idea, a thought, a small business inside of you, just waiting to bloom. It’s patiently waiting for you! Could it be time to discover it?