There are two F words that I have removed from my vocabulary since completing my 6 month life coaching journey back in March; they are Fear and Failure. In her article, “Reframe Your Fear of Failure,” my life coach, Terri Cole writes “fear is just a feeling and not a fact.” She also writes, that “if we want to stop being fearful of failing all the time, we than need to figure out what is driving our behavior to think this way.” To help figure out the root of your fear, Terri provides her readers with 5 thought provoking questions that will help gain clarity on exactly where the fear is stemming from.
1. How is this fear of failure holding you back?
2. What would it be like if you did not have this fear?
3. Who are you afraid of disappointing if you fail?
4. How strong is your desire to release this fear?
5. If there were one step you could take to overcome this fear, what would it be?
How has fear of failure held me back?
They say during your first year as a professional you will learn things about yourself that you never knew before. You will be pushed in many directions, good and bad. You will have to learn how to adapt in an unfamiliar culture, possibly adapt to a new life style and/or different environment, and you will eventually need to ask for help. Actually, you should ALWAYS ask for help.
During my first year as a professional, I learned a lot about myself, both personally and professionally. Not only was this my first professional job, it was also the first time I was on my own managing my learning disability. I no longer had special accommodations, or support from the wonderful staff in office of Disabilities. It was finally time for me to spread my wings, and figure out how to advocate for myself, determine what my system would look like and to accept that my diagnosis does not define who I am. To be honest, I was scared. It was only a few years prior, that I was diagnosed. In graduate school, I constantly struggled with figuring out a way to stay organized, how to process the large quantity of information I received on a daily basis, and how to be confident enough in myself that I could accomplish all of the above. I was fearful what my new colleagues would think if I told them. Would they think I would use my diagnoses as an excuse for more time? Or that I am hard to work with? Or even worse, that I was incapable of doing my job?
Well, to make a long story short, I failed. Miserably. I let the fear of failure take the driver seat and take me on a long dark road where it enabled me to function as a person. I lost control. I was in denial, I lied constantly to cover my butt, I hid information from my boss, and I never asked for help. I knew I could only continue down this dark road for so long until my boss would notice. And she did. She sat down with me and called me out on everything. My face turned white, my jaw dropped to the ground and I had a blank stare on my face. She had finally figured out my secret. “Crap” I thought to myself. “What do I do now? Come up with another lie to cover my butt or finally admit I need help? ” After a few minutes I finally asked for the help I so desperately needed. Looking back, I am ashamed and was foolish on how I handled this situation. These are not qualities that I value, these are not qualities that I want others to remember me by; I was not living authentically.
What I’ve learned:
1. Do not be afraid to ask for help -“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it,” Unknown author. Thinking about the fear quote stated above, my fear of asking for help is rooted in my Italian upbringing. No one in my family ever asked for help. I learned through their behavior to: hide information of others, never speak about your struggles OR show you were struggling, and fake it until you make it. After this experience I have realized that asking for help is not hard, painful, or a negative thing. I am proud of my growth since that day.
2. Never lose control – “If you don’t learn to control your thoughts, you will never learn how to control your behavior.” Joyce Meyer. The moment when I lost control was the moment when I turned into the person I never wanted to be. I felt stuck; my system on how I managed my work and my life was not working. Everything I tried failed. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was unhappy; I did not like the person I was becoming. And lastly, I was frustrated, because with every thought and decision I let my disability define who I was instead of accepting that it is just a part of who I am.
3. When you don’t like your behavior, CHANGE it– “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.” Unknown author. During my class I learned so much about the art of communication, how family upbringing can factor into the many issues I was experiencing, the power of positive thought reinforcement, and so much more. Together we broke down my fears and traced them back to the behaviors and dug deep on why things were happening. It was an amazing experience.
As a Terri stated above “fear is just a feeling, and not a fact.” Figuring out the behaviors to your fear is the first step in conquering it. If you want to get to the root of your fears, take some time to answers the questions above. Like me, you will be amazed at what you come up with. How will you reframe your fear of failure?
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin on SA Work-Life Balance