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Overcome self-doubt, fear of failure, and fear of rejection

Mon, August 25, 2014 12:54 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

Tips you can use to help you overcome self-doubt and a fear of failure and rejection

We are going to take a different path today. Instead of looking at processes, scripts, or technology, I am going to discuss some psychological and emotional issues that cause many businesses to fail or at the very least, not be as successful as they should be. These issues are self-doubt, fear of failure, and fear of rejection.


The word rejection stems from the Latin word rejectio, meaning throwing back. Isn't that the perfect way to look at the act of rejection? Someone is simply tossing the ball back in your court to take the next steps. The ball could be an objection that you have to overcome, or a broken promise. The next step could be handling the objection, or moving on to the next prospect. I was always taught that NO was an abbreviated form of Not Right Now, so I have no problem with you telling me no at least once a year. I have not always had that level of self confidence; it was learned over time and experience.

Unfortunately, many business leaders don’t see it that way. They see every failure or situation that didn’t go the way they expected as proof that they are losers in their chosen business field.

They see every prospect that does not answer the phone or return their call as a personal rejection, and worse yet, they see other people’s perceived success as more fuel to throw on their burning pile of self-doubt.

I often get credit for being a great business mentor, but I believe that I see my greatest success when I help others to see themselves and their business in the same way that I suspect God looks at us as children. We are born innocent and ignorant, just like most business ideas. We see people around us walking and talking and we too want to experience these awesome things, just as we see successful business ventures happening around us. We sit there in our wet diapers planning and scheming how we are going to take our first steps until finally we decide to take our shot. In this analogy a wet diaper could be a lack of money or knowledge. Of course the first time we try to get up we fall on our butt. We didn’t know it, but our parents did, which is why they usually try to coerce us into taking our first steps while they are holding our little fingers in their big hands.

Who are you reaching out to that helps you in business? Who is holding your hand in business?

We learn what to do and how to do it from the people we trust to teach and protect us. The safer and more protected we feel, the more challenges and risks we take on, until we fall on our butts. We cry for a little while, and then when we see our parents (or feel the presence of our God) so we feel safe again and we get up and try it again, but this time being a little wiser we might try it differently because of our experience.

Life and business will always throw things back at you, and often they will knock you on your butt. The real question you have to answer is what do you do when you have another chance to get it right? Do you focus on how you got it wrong the first time and you don’t try it again, or like that baby I discussed earlier, do you cry for a little while and then get off your butt and give it another shot? Imagine if we all stopped trying to learn how to walk because we fell on our butt?

How do you know if you have self-doubt and a fear of failure and rejection?

Note: The following 5 statements come directly from Marla Tabaka of Inc. Magazine (One of my personal mentors)

·         You make excuses. When opportunity comes knocking, you are too busy, claim that it's bad timing, or dismiss it as not a big deal.

·         You hide your true self. You feel safer if you take on a phony persona so that the real you isn't rejected. It's as though you're living behind a mask.

·         You complain. You feel so frustrated with yourself that you blame others, complain about your circumstances, and feel negative emotions toward others because it seems easier than assuming responsibility for your lack of assertiveness.

·         You're a people pleaser. The fear of confrontation or, worse, losing someone is so disconcerting that you place the needs and desires of others ahead of your own. You have a difficult time saying no, even if it's not in your best interest.

·         You don't seek opportunity. You may have great ideas and many opportunities to connect to the right people, but you put it off until tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow rarely comes.

OK, Back to Billy’s words

Here are some tips that will help you overcome self-doubt and a fear of failure and rejection:

1. Watch what you say to yourself.

Some psychologists say as much as 90 percent of self-talk is negative. Pay attention to the words you say to yourself. Do you criticize yourself? Do you have a negative outlook on the future? Do you value yourself today based on your past? Do you let emotions guide most of your decision making?

 (Remember emotions are current feelings that are usually based on your history) Your history is a combination of your passions, hopes, dreams, failures, successes, and insecurities. If you aren’t saying positive things about yourself, surround yourself with people that will. A good mentor, while being honest, will try to address issues in as positive of a manner as possible.

2. Don’t let your history control your future.

Do you know when your psychological challenges began? Often you can trace your feelings back to certain life events and people. Did you have a parent that constantly berated you? Did you have a spouse that tried to control you through negative words? Did you struggle in school so you felt dumb compared to the other kids? Did you try a business venture that failed? Whatever the cause or causes, those things were in the past. You have to commit starting today to base your viewpoint of yourself on a “What did I accomplish today?” plan.  This means if you are struggling with a bad attitude, do your best to have a good attitude today. (Remember your attitude is usually a reflection of what you think about your future, and your future is looking better just because you decided to make it better!)

3. Designate a specific time to get one important thing accomplished

If you don’t make the time to be successful, all of your time will be spent fighting off poverty. 

I have said these words a thousand times to almost anyone that would listen, and yet they never get old or outdated. Just like learning to walk, learning to be successful in business requires you to take baby steps, and just like a baby, you will probably have to hold onto to someone or something before you can do it on your own. Even that baby had to decide on a time to take the first step. A good mentor will help you select which baby steps and times are best for you. As you get one thing accomplished, you will find that you have more confidence to try the next thing on the list.


4. Surround yourself with people that will help keep you positive and focused

People such as mentors, role models, spouses that support your vision, and friends that are positive influences should consume the majority of your time that is not spent enjoying your family and your God. Make sure the people closest to you are energy makers, not energy takers.

5. Get your resources in order

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation plus time management. Bad luck is when opportunity meets a lack of preparation plus bad time management.

Preparation includes resources such as educating yourself about your business and your chosen field, controlling your credit and your debt so that money is available if a good opportunity comes along, aligning yourself with good mentors and role models, creating business associations that can benefit you today as well as in the future, creating and protecting your business reputation by giving exceptional customer service, and most importantly aligning yourself spiritually with a group of like minded individuals that look at the positive aspects of who we are, and espouse good values.

 I am a Christian and while I would love for everyone to be a Christian, I do understand that people of every religious background and culture subscribe to my blogs and podcast, so regardless of what you choose to call God, honor your God in business just as you would in everyday life. That doesn’t mean you will be perfect, but when you get knocked on your butt spiritually just as you do professionally, grab a hold of something such as the bible, or someone such as a church leader or member, and pick yourself up.

I hope these words of inspiration and encouragement have added value to your day!

Billy R. Williams, PhD

President – Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring


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