How to overcome the fear of failure

Fear and failure are a toxic combination. Both fear and failure have positive elements to play in our lives. Fear can be a useful self preservation mechanism and failure can help us learn valuable lessons. When the two come together they pose a crippling and destructive cocktail which will ruin your life.

As I write this post, I am embarking on a new journey which will see me leave regular fixed income and taking a financial risk. I am excited, terrified but I am not going to let me fear prevent me from stepping into my future.  Writing this post comes from my own experience and so it is a little bit of therapy for me and hopefully will help you too.

The fear of failure left unchallenged will keep you from reaching your potential. No if’s, no buts, it is one of the most important things you have to take control over.

Where does the fear of failure come from?

I am no psychologist but I certainly have experienced throughout my life the fear of failure. If you struggle with the fear of failure you will run endless scenarios in your head of worst case scenarios. These fears usually come from our own personal hierarchy of needs (of the Maslow variety).

If we have unfulfilled or uncertainty in one of the levels within Maslow’s diagram, it will usually mirror itself in the fear of failure.

New Career  – What if I am not good enough?  – Self-Esteem

New Business – Do you fear not being able to pay the bills? – Safety

New Clothes – Do you worry about what people will think? – Love and belonging.

So how do we overcome the fear of failure?

Extreme’s rarely happen.

In life it is rare that extreme’s happen. Fear usually paints an extreme outcome. Just like the optimist writing a financial plan or a pessimist writing plan for world peace. The best and the worst case never usually happen. Outcomes are often somewhere in the middle of the best and the worst.

Define your fear.

It’s really easy for a concern to become a worry and worry to become fear. The first thing you have to do is regain control. Fear causes panic, you are never at your best when you are in panic. Panic causes all sorts of things to happen in our body, importantly it makes it difficult for us to control our emotions and think objectively.

In times of fear and panic you need to take back control of your emotional and mental state. Stop crying, stop thinking it over and over. It sounds easier than it is, but it starts with you talking yourself down from the panic and fear.

When you feel a bit more in control, write down the specific fears you are feeling. Be specific and write them all down. What exactly are you afraid of?

I won’t be good enough because….

I won’t pay my bills because….

I can’t wear those clothes because…

Now write down the reasons. Your afraid you won’t meet a deadline because your diary is full, you won’t pay your bills because sales are slow. You’ll find that the reasons once on paper are not as big a deal as you think. Fear makes mole hills into mountains.
Create an action plan to address your fear.

Every fear and every reason creates a series actions. Take your fear mountain and break it down in to workable chunks.  Often we think being fearful about something means we should not do it, but fear generally is telling us to act to prevent the fear becoming reality. If you listen to your fear, accept its concerns and then create a plan of action to prevent fear being proven correct.

If you are worried about paying the bills, find ways to bridge the gap, redouble your efforts to earn more money. Every time your fear surfaces, redouble your efforts.

Remember actions driven from panic will not solve the problem. Stay calm and in control. Panic based action just creates more problems.

You are not the only one

We all grapple with fear so you are not alone. Just a quick google search and you will learn quite quickly that many are searching about how to fight fear. Don’t be crippled by it, use it, channel it and make it work for you. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, how together your life it, you’ll always have some degree of fear, the difference that you can choose is how much control it has over your life.

That’s the real answer, we can’t get rid of fear, it will always be there, but if we get control of our fears, use them to help us, the power fear can hold over us diminishes. As fear’s power diminishes in your life, you’ll find it easier to manage.

Three ways to keep inspiration flowing

Inspiration is one of those things that we all need, but cannot easily quantify. For me I get inspiration from reading quotes, articles and stories but I can never quite predict which story, which article or which quote will trigger that inspiration. We all need inspiration for life.

The dictionary defines inspiration as

The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

I was watching TV a few months back and I received a big dose of inspiration through a powerful quote

“If you want to venture on a new journey, you have to take a step”

I don’t know who the author was and the whole context was around train journeys, but this little line resonated with me so powerfully that I knew I had to take a step. A step into the unknown.

Inspiration is often a little thought about a big idea. Perhaps a new business opportunity, a new product or even a new career path. Inspiration often challenges about existing thought patterns and shows us an alternative approach or way of thinking. Inspiration helps us see a new way forward.

It’s so important that our minds absorb new ideas and concepts because often we develop limiting beliefs which hinder our future. Inspiration challenges self limiting beliefs and allows you to see beyond some of the negative talk in our heads.

I personally believe that inspiration is more critical than motivation. Motivation is much easier to obtain, inspiration is something you cannot work for, it simply comes to you at the right time. Inspiration can help you see how change the world, motivation can help you fight for it. Inspiration help you relentlessly pursue what you believe in despite the odds. Here are some of my tips for creating an environment where inspiration can happen.

Inspiration needs rest

To be inspired you need to be relaxed and clear headed. Inspiration doesn’t come under pressure or on demand. Your mind needs to be in a restful place. Do something relaxing, make sure you have had a good nights sleep. If you are run down your mind cannot function properly. In recent research showed 75% of Americans are classified as suffering from some form of dehydration. Even mild dehydration can massively affect your mind and thought processes. Dehydration can be a factor in low mood, low motivation and reduced productivity levels Not drinking for 4-8 hours can cause mild dehydration.

Inspiration can’t be hunted.

Inspiration cannot be found by hunting for it, it is something you stumble upon. In your journey inspiration will come to you when you are in the right place mentally, emotionally and physically. You can create a good environment but inspiration is when two mental cog’s click together, it can’t be engineered or manufactured. That ‘clicking’ process is when your mind slots two things together.

I’ve read stories of inspiration being like trying to solve a difficult maths problem without a calculator. Often, it cannot be solved by just working at it, you have to mentally process the question over and over again until something clicks. There are two levels of thinking in our minds, concious and sub-concious thinking. Inspiration comes from your sub-concious which works in the background, like a duck swimming on water, you can only see the calm and chilled duck on the surface, but underneath the water the rest of it’s body is working away.

The Duck can’t bring it’s legs above the waterline and keep swimming, so we cannot easily access our sub-concious mind.

Stay in the moment.

Sometimes you can find moments which have special meaning or a significance you can’t quite understand. Try to stay with those moments for as long as you can. Often we can experience something or see an object which is partially triggering inspiration but we move on too quickly.

I often watch Murder, She Wrote episodes. The stories are all similar but there is always a ‘clicking moment’ for Jessica Fletcher where facts slot together. Information already known collates itself into an order which reveals the murderers identity.

These moments of inspiration, which trigger revelation, are usually brought about by a random comment of someone or observing something around. Make time for these moments.

So, these are my tips for gaining inspiration, what triggers inspiration for you?


My application to be on The Apprentice TV Series

Years ago, I applied to be on the British TV Reality series The Apprentice. I was in my early twenties and I fancied myself as an Entrepreneur. The application process was quite easy, compiling personal information, career highlights and a bragging section. So, I applied, the result was I didn’t get through. My TV career didn’t quite happen for me as I had hoped. I wonder how things would have turned out if I had been accepted onto the apprentice? Would Sir Alan have said “Dean you’re fired” in the first week or would I have progressed to the final. We will never know. In some ways the application process challenged me to think about what I wanted to do with my life and also what skills I have. Despite not getting through the application was helpful.

The TV show annoys me a little because a lot of the contenders had an unfair advantage in that their backgrounds made it easier for them to excel in business, they had the right start in their business careers because of their background and their family connections. It’s easy to grow a business, if your family have money to help you. I realise that was a sweeping statement but to be honest, the only genuinely self-starters  I have ever seen on the The Apprentice was Ruth Badger and Michelle Dewberry.  Ruth was a self-made woman who took no-nonsense and got the job done. She is an example of someone who has fought and battled to get where she is, all credit to her. I remember watching her and whilst she didn’t waste time on heirs and graces. She battled with the other contestants who had affluent backgrounds and the right connections. Eventually she came second, to Michelle Dewberry who also came from humble beginnings, working on a checkout at Kwik Save. Michelle has seen developed a consultancy and media business and Ruth runs a sales and marketing consultancy.

Watching The Apprentice has proved to me that people with privileged backgrounds can get a head start in life. but it doesn’t mean that with a little hard work, determination and common sense you cannot make a better future for yourself, whatever your background.

It’s interesting to note, that Sir Alan himself was from humble beginnings who has worked hard and taken risks. He grew up in a Council flat in East London in the 1950’s and started in business selling car aerials out of the back of a van. Today, thousands of people from all backgrounds apply to go on a reality TV programme and fight against others, risking everything, to work for him.

How to achieve your goals.

I learned about this trick for achieving goals from a brilliant guy, Brian Tracy. Brian is an expert in business sales and self-development. You can find many of his videos on YouTube and I recommend them to you.

The big problem with setting goals is being able to remember to keep them. So here is my step by step guide learned from Brian.

My experience of goal setting has been amazingly productive and has focused my energy and mind to really work to achieve what is important to me.

Write don’t type.

There is something very powerful about writing your goals, aims and objectives down on paper. Evernote and other apps which help you note things down on the go are brilliant but writing things down has been proven to be a more effective way to be able to remember what you have noted down.Each week, try to re-write your goals.

Re-write them often.

When I learned to drive, I was taught the following rule “what you focus on, is where you will go”. This rule seems to apply to every aspect of life, not just behind the wheel of a car. Focus and make your goals a prominent aspect of you thoughts and it will influence your outlook and decision-making. I did this exercise in 2011 and wrote down my goals in detail, quantified and specific. I did this over and over throughout the year. The benefit of doing this, is that it firmly places these goals into our subconscious. Our minds behind the scenes are working away on these and this influences our daily behavior.

Make small steps daily.

If we can all make one tiny step each day towards achieving one or all of our goals, by the end of the year, we will have made huge progress. If we can make huge progress in a whole year. Very often people at this time of year set very ambitious goals but then try to make giant leaps toward the goals in a small time span. We are creatures of comfort and whilst taking massive action can be good, it takes enormous willpower which often cannot be sustained over a longer period of time. Little steps every day will be easier to achieve and you a setback can easily be overcome.

Milestones and the Snowball effect.

The snowball effect we have all seen at some point. You start with a handful of snow and roll it around on the ground until it gets bigger and bigger. This is true for our goals. It starts with little steps but then momentum begins to work for you and your progress accelerates, so that day by day for progress is more significant.

If you are trying to grow your income, it could be really tough to gain the first £5000 of extra income, but the next £10,000 could be much easier. Using the snowball analogy, eventually that small piece of snow might get really big and heavy. It’s at those times you have to muster every bit of strength to move that snowball. By this time though, your progress has been so significant, you are achieving 10 times more than you were when you started out. Sometimes there are glass ceilings you have to just smash through. In business there are milestones and challenges which seem tough barriers to break. Some of the barriers you have to break require huge amounts of energy, drive and determination. Some goals get easier to achieve as you pass certain milestones. It’s easier for a business turning over £100,000 to grow their sales by £10,000, than for a start-up business to get their first £10,000 of sales. Some Milestones seem to have an Ogre with them that doesn’t want to let you pass.

Shoot for the stars and land on the moon.

I listed my goals down in January 2011, after about 6 months or so, I forgot about the routine of writing my goals. Over the Christmas period of 2011, I opened up my notebook and began looking at the goals. As I went through them, I realised that, despite neglecting the goals after a few months, I had hit or came close to achieving them all. Sometimes it makes sense to shoot for the stars, because we know, at the very worst we will hit the moon. Remember, what you focus on is where you will go. If we are not fully focused, we may make incredible progress but fall short of the actual goal. Sometimes it’s good to set the goal a little higher.

Good luck.

Forget instant results…it’s all about the journey.

With all the personal connectivity we have these days it’s impossible to keep up with the posts, tweets, private messages, friend requests, connection requests, emails, sms, phone calls and letters. We all exist in an age of communication overload.

Because the world has become instant, it is easy to get offended if someone doesn’t reply to your SMS, call you back or email. I am guilty of this myself, getting frustrated when people don’t respond fast enough, but more so, I am just as guilty of not getting back to people. Sometimes there is just too much going on to keep up. Anyone else get that feeling sometimes?

I think history will look back on this time as the Instant Age. Just like our communication, our expectations have become more immediate, requiring instant gratification and immediate results.

Instant messages, instant emails, same-day delivery we even have instant meals. Our society has come to value and demand things faster and in some cases does not appreciate things which take time. I was in a fast-food restaurant recently and I was feeling dissatisfied after waiting 3 minutes, when did things get so instant?

In times gone if someone wanted a new item of furniture or to make a significant purchase, it would be expected that they would save for it. Today, we buy it on credit with convenient monthly payments. In it is the same in achievement, many people who have built successful careers have worked hard for many years, struggled and battled through to achieve success. Reality TV series like X Factor and Britain’s got Talent are all offering instant success further perpetuating the instant results, quick fix culture we seem to be developing.

There are good and bad aspects of the progression and development of a quick fix culture. The downsides are that we diminish the value of a journey. It can be good for us to work and struggle to reach or obtain something can build inner character and help us value achievement.

Saving is a discipline which will prove fruitful in your life, if you can master it. Instant results and instant fixes can short cut us to our destination but at the same time can bypass the necessary things we need to learn to make that destination a home, rather than just a two-week holiday.

Jayson DeMers in his article ” 7 Reasons You Won’t Ever Be Succesful” says….

Tasks that you can complete in a day or two, and that have immediate payoff are AWESOME. Addictive, even.

But every successful entrepreneur knows that in order to build something strong and sustainable, you have to invest time now; and the results often don’t manifest themselves for years.

If you can’t deal with that, you simply aren’t thinking long-term enough. If you can only think about short-term rewards like what your next paycheck will look like because of work you did this week, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals.

I strongly recommend you read his very interesting and insightful article.

2 reasons why the Journey is important.

  • The person you are at the beginning and the person at the arrival point are completely different. Your journey grows you and prepares you for arrival.
  • Easy come, easy go. What we come by easily, we tend not to value as highly.

A famous speaker was once asked “How did you become an overnight success?” the speaker replied graciously “I had been working to become an overnight success for 30 years”.

Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.

Most long-lasting businesses, projects or achievements take time. The journey is the training course for your successes to have longevity. Enjoyable or painful, make the most of your journey.

What I have learned about debt

financial-debtHaving been through the mill of having the shackles of debt. I thought I would write-up my experiences of debt so that it will give you some pointers about when to use it and how to handle it. My experience with debt on the whole has been unpleasant, when I started my first business, I didn’t understand money or debt very well.

I have made all the mistakes, borrowing to get a new car, borrowing for luxuries and borrowing to fund a lifestyle. I have made most of the debt mistakes and borne most of the consequences.

Here is what I have learned…

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