Fear of failure
This fear goes beyond the common dislike of failure. No one likes to fail. And, although good things can come from failure, it’s never a good feeling when you do fail. But, the fear that I’m talking about here is the one where you obsess about the possibility of failure. Rather than immediately thinking about what could happen if you succeed, you’re consumed by what will happen if you fail.
Ever been there? You’ve been given a promotion or a new assignment at work and the only thing you find yourself thinking about is what happened to the last guy and how he failed. Or you stay awake at night thinking through “what if” scenarios that all end in you being fired or causing the organization to go bankrupt. The fear of failure makes you stay where it’s familiar a little too long and prevents you from reaching new heights and accomplishing greater things.
Fear of criticism
This one is tough for me. Other people’s words and descriptions about me matter to me. Not to the point where I think I’m a people-pleaser, but they do impact me more than they should. When I am criticized, I can remember every word spoken and every nonverbal action exhibited. I can remember, specifically, criticisms that I received over 20 years ago (I know, I need to let it go). But because of this, in my leadership, I find that I am paralyzed when faced with the possibility of criticism.
Do you connect with that idea? You’ve just been put on a team with the most critical person on the team—you know, the person who is critical of every idea that isn’t their own It doesn’t matter what you suggest or do, you will be criticized. But, as leaders, we can’t allow others’ words to keep us from leading our team forward. The fear of criticism forces you into a place where you only recycle old ideas and limit your creative output.
Fear of inadequacy
Maybe my story is unique, but I’m guessing that it’s not. I don’t think I’ve ever been the leader of a group or organization in which I felt I had what it took to succeed. When faced with something new, I immediately feel this comparison game start to creep in and how others could do it much better than I could.
Do you compare yourself too? It can be someone we work with or a peer in the industry. We look at them and we immediately think that they have it all figured out and we don’t. The reality is that the fear of inadequacy is a no-win proposition. There will always be people doing it better … and there will always be people that appear to be doing it better. The fear of inadequacy diminishes the gifts and skills you have and hides them away until they die and are no longer useful to you.
Fear of success
I’ve seen this one over and over. I have seen people at the point of graduating from college who fail a class just so they don’t have to leave the comfort of what they’ve come to know for the last few years. And, that’s how this fear manifests itself most often—comfort.