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Letting Fear Control Your Career

It’s kind of amazing to watch little kids barrel through life. They have no fear. They have no concept of what would happen if they fell off the tallest ladder on the play set or if that adorable dog didn’t like children, and they just don’t care. They run at both of them, full tilt, jump on and enjoy the ride. When did we stop doing that? When did we stop living life and chasing our dreams, or those moments of joy? When did we decide that we were too afraid to embrace everything life has to offer?

I’m amazed at how often adults make decisions because of fear of the unknown. Fear that they’ll fall, fear that someone will laugh, fear that they’ll fail. So what? I have failed so many times in life I’ve lost count. I failed at high school softball when I spent a season (or two) sitting on the bench. I failed at the lemonade stand I set up on the highway. I failed at being patient. And from each of those failures I had success. Instead of following the crowd and playing softball I found a sport I was really passionate about, I learned the importance of marketing and location, and I discovered meditation for patience. Success. Success. Success.

I see it all the time with authors. You’re afraid to try something new. You’re afraid you can’t before you even try. You’re afraid to have your agent ask for more because you’re afraid your publisher might say no, or get mad. So what? Publishers get mad at me every single day. They still like me. There was a time I too was afraid to ask for what I thought might upset the publisher or editor, but I couldn’t be afraid. I had a client to take care of and my job was getting her the best I could get. That means I had to put that fear aside. Sometimes I was told no, but never did it create anything so tragic that I needed to feel that fear. Don’t you have a responsibility to fight that fear for yourself?

Next time you find yourself backing away from something new or a suggestion from your editor or agent take a step back and really look at why you’re backing away. Is it because your chest has tightened and the fear makes it difficult to breathe? Excellent! That means you go for it. Instead of looking at the fear as a warning of what you shouldn’t do, look at the fear as the driving factor to why you should. Because we shouldn’t live life in fear, we should climb that ladder and experience the joy of seeing the world from a new height.

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15 comments

  1. Well, you’ve gone and inspired me to address the subconscious reason I’ve been avoiding my author website. It’s been *almost* done and ready for action for far too long. Time to finish.

    Thank you for the push..

  2. I think of fear and bravado in balance, both essential in our make up. The trick, as in all things, is finding the sweet spot.

  3. Fear can be both negative and positive. The positive can be utilized as a tool to navigate negative fears into a positive mental attitude. It can provide hope that not only encourages us to pursue a goal, but to go for it! Make fear work for you.

  4. It’s funny how some failures we experience growing up turn into fear while others into perseverance (and then hopefully success).

    Love your last sentence!

  5. Great advice… although I must confess, I was a horribly fearful little kid. I was terrified of everything and always worried about getting hurt, both physically and emotionally. While I’m braver than I was then (it’s taken decades), I’m still working on it. Which is the point, to keep forging ahead.

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