Emotional Intelligence

How to Understand – and Limit – Your Fears, continued

We’ve been discussing fears that limit or prevent a leader’s success: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection and fear of selling, and how these may have limited you.

Here we look at fear of rejection and fear of selling.

Fear of rejection. Inherent to the fear of rejection is the irrational belief that others will not accept you for who you are, what you believe and how you act. This fear blocks you from being all of who you truly are – your truest self.

Fear of rejection will also cause you to procrastinate and not do many of the things that will improve your business and personal relationships. This will lead to irrational thinking and self-defeating behavior. Part of overcoming fear of rejection is to understand that you are a human being of good character and good ethics; you are fundamentally a good person.

Fear of selling. Whether it’s a Fortune 500 CEO, a small shop owner, a military leader, a spouse or parent, a humanitarian fighting for human rights, this fear is prevalent in both men and women and at all levels of success. There are many variations and reasons for the fear of selling. As Michelle Nichols, a writer for Bloomberg Business Week, says, one can be afraid of approaching a new customer, entering an unknown environment, being ignored, treated unkindly, or embarrassed, or not having an answer to a question.

Perhaps you’re concerned that a failure to sell will result in the end of your career. What you need to ask yourself is: What is the worst thing that can happen if I try to sell this idea (or product or yourself)?

Chances are, you won’t be threatened with death or dismemberment and, even if you lose the sale, your life will go on. Besides, you may even succeed!

According to Dan Pink, we as entrepreneurs are always selling: influencing and trying to sell our ideas to get a result that will favor us.

In the corporate world, you must sell ideas up to your boss, down to your team, and across to your peers. As an entrepreneur, you not only lead the development of your company’s vision and strategies, you also have to sell them to your entire team. You may not realize it, but you are selling ideas all the time.

You will be more influential, more successful and happier if you are comfortable selling.

How do you overcome fear of selling?

  • Focus on serving. If you experience fear in the selling process you are being self-centered. All your fears about selling are “me fears”: me failing, me being rejected, me looking foolish, me not knowing enough . . . get your focus off yourself; be completely focused on serving others.
  • Resolve fear using a worst-case scenario. This fear-busting technique can be extraordinarily powerful, not only for fear of rejection, but also for almost all fears.

Consider the case of Alice, an intelligent, charming ophthalmic nurse who was afraid that her emotionally abusive husband was going to divorce her for a younger woman who worked with him. When asked to rate her distress level on a zero to 10 scale, with zero being no distress and 10 the most distressful situation she could imagine, she rated the possibility of divorce a 10.

Then Alice was asked, “What would you do if your worst-case scenario came true (being divorced)?” After a moment of contemplation, Alice said: “I would go volunteer with Doctors Without Borders. This has been a dream of mine for years, but my husband has always been against it.” Doctors Without Borders is a group of volunteer medical professionals who provide free medical care in developing or war-torn countries.)

With the realization she could live her dream if she was divorced from her abusive husband, Alice broke into a smile. At the end of our session, her level of distress was at zero.

Fear takes you out of the present moment, distorts your thoughts and changes your actions, all focused on what you fear. When you can accept the worst case, you no longer need to fear it, which keeps your mind in reality.

Next, we’ll go through a brief exercise leading you through the steps of a worst-case scenario. But in the meantime, I’d like to know if you could share your own – it might not be quite like that of Alice, above, but it could be equally illuminating about your own state of fear. Thank you for sharing.

For questions about this post or for information on becoming a fearless leader, contact Dr. Cathy Greenberg and The Fearless Leader Group at (888) 320-1299 or by email at hello@fearlessequalsfreedom.com.

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