Dr. LiposkyThe top two fears that people have are the fear of flying and fear of public speaking. Before we had airplanes, the fear of heights was the number one fear. Before we had airplanes, there wasn’t a lot of recorded public speaking either. Yet millions of people fly each day, people speak at meetings, concerts, and in the media. And people climb mountains, clean gutters, jump off bridges on a budgie cord.

The baby has two innate fears … fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. As we mature, we learn to interpret loud noises and that fear dissipates. Fear of falling is also dissipated thru nurturing of the mother. So where did all these fears that we have today come from. They were learned.

Think about the fears that people talk about. How could you be afraid of flying if you never flew before? Because you saw a crash on TV or someone told you of their experience or their fear. Once you’ve heard of the event, you put it in perspective. That means that you will either discount it or seek to reinforce it.

If you have never presented a talk in front of an audience, how could you be afraid … and what are you afraid of? Usually, it is the fear of making a mistake or embarrassing yourself. I’ve had that same fear. As a young piano student, apparently I showed some real promise. I could play for the teacher, my parents and my self. At a recital, I was paralyzed.

Even though the audience wouldn’t know that I missed a note, I knew. Should I go back and play it over or keep going? What do I do? At one recital, now a teenager with 10 years of training, my teacher introduced me to the audience. I refused to come out and play. All that practice and preparation wasted. I could play drums in the band, cello and piano in the orchestra but no, no, no solo. The fear was real to me.

I wasn’t born with this fear but somewhere along the way, I not only learned it, I practiced it. Even when I tried to move forward, practiced and practiced, my subconscious reminded me that I might make a mistake. The closer I came to the stage the louder my subconscious would proclaim. Mistake. Wrong note. Miss a beat. Watch out! It was a fear of failure. But who would know? Me.

I think the fear of failure is probably the most subtly paralyzing fear that we must deal with each day. We see changes in society as we coddle children so they can’t experience failure. Don’t keep score in the little league game…every one wins. Everyone passes in the classroom. That’s not what life is about. Life is a series of successes and failures.

Fear of failure can paralyze but mastering the fear can energize. It took nearly 40 years before I mastered playing in front of an audience. I actually put down the instruments for most of that time. What I did do was become confident and skillful in public speaking. I realized that I did have a gift and that I could help people when using my gift.

Lets apply this to business and success. I believe that there is a lot of potentially successful people back stage with great ideas. They won’t come on stage because they are afraid they might make a mistake. They are afraid of failure

There are two things that are so important in business. First, there is nothing wrong with failure. Treat failure as a learning experience. Work to prevent failure but if it does occur, see it as a learning experience…part of the foundation for future success.

Second, failing does not make you a failure. You are not a failure until you quit. Remember that you must be bad at something, before you are good at it. The worst feeling is to have someone pick up your idea after you gave up on it, and achieve great success.

I love the old story of the gold miner who went in to an old abandoned mine, only dug another foot, and found the mother load. Why did the first miner abandon the mine? He failed to find gold … so he quit.

If you believe in your dream, your idea, your mission in life, all you need is the road to get there and the commitment to make the journey. Like any journey, you may have hills, detours and even meaningful people offering direction. It is up to you to stay focused on your destination.

We like to hear stories about success…stories about overcoming obstacles. Stories of success are simply stories of a completed journey. “It’s Not What I Know…It’s How I Learned It” is my story and stories of others who just would not quit.

Make it a great day

Dr L