The best self-awareness exercises to aid your success

self-awareness

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” – Marcus Aurelius

Your inner self governs everything you do. Those frustrations you feel come from deep within. Your inner self can either afflict you or be the string in your bow of success.

Self-awareness is one of the most important skills for success.

Your behaviour and responses are governed by internal mental processes. Self-awareness uncovers any destructive thought-patterns and/or unhealthy habits.

If you find yourself lashing out, or frustrated then perhaps it’s time to get your self-awareness in check. Even if you feel fine, self-awareness adds indispensable value to your life and without it, you can’t possibly hope to be the best version of youself.

Here are the best exercises for self-awareness.

1. The three why’s

Before acting on a decision, ask yourself “Why?” Then follow up your reasoning with another  “Why?” And then a third. If you can find three good reasons to pursue something, you’ll have clarity and be more confident in your actions. Don’t go through your day being a bag of unreasoned emotions. Think before you act. It pays dividends.

Self-awareness is about understanding your motives and assuring yourself that your actions are reasoned.

2. Expand your emotional vocabulary

When we can’t explain how we feel we feel frustrated. Emotions hold a lot of power towards our actions. Putting your feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on your brain. Here is a great list of “feeling words” to help with describing and labelling your emotions.

3. Take responsibility for your flaws

Nobody is perfect. Being aware of your flaws means accepting responsibility for the things you do wrong. It’s very easy to criticise others but we can’t do that without turning the mirror on ourselves. We wouldn’t want to be hypocrites now, would we? Self-improvement only happens once you recognize a flaw. Create a habit of acknowledging your mistakes, rather than making excuses.

4. Practice saying ‘no’ to yourself

One of the most valuable aspects of self-awareness is self-control. Stopping yourself from doing things that will hurt you or others is a major part of what keeps us successful.

The ability to say “no” to yourself to put off short-term gratification for the long-term gain. It’s a core life-skill. The more you practice saying “no” to small daily challenges, the better you can withstand major temptations.

5. Monitor your self-talk

Be very aware of how you communicate to yourself. If you pass off your achievements as luck and crucify yourself after failures you are lacking in confidence and your self-talk could be making it worse. You need to put an immediate stop to it. How can you expect to be successful if your main supporter (you) doesn’t even believe in you?

A little bit of negative self-talk can spiral into stress and depression.

Balance tough talk with self-compassion. That’s a real winners mentality.

6. Improve your body language awareness

Watching yourself on video can be a cringeworthy experience, but awareness of your body language, posture, and mannerisms improves your confidence.

Slouching, or taking a “low-power-pose” increases cortisol and feeds low self-esteem, while standing tall or taking a “high-power-pose” stimulates testosterone and improves your performance. Using hand gestures helps with articulating your thoughts and affects how people respond to you.

7. Ask for constructive feedback, regularly

We all have blind spots in our thinking patterns and behaviours. Asking for regular constructive feedback cuts through any incorrectly perceived characteristics or blind spots we might have about ourselves. It gives us a rare glimpse of how other people see us and it’s invaluable to our progress.

8. Break visceral reactions

Last but by no means least. A person without self-awareness runs on auto-pilot and responds with knee-jerk reactions. Self-awareness allows you to assess situations objectively and rationally, without letting your actions overcome your chances of success.

Add space between your thoughts and actions this is the key to a life of self-awareness.

How to practice patience

patience

We all want instant gratification. We have all forgotten about patience.

In today’s fast-paced society where everything can be at our fingertips in seconds, waiting seems like such an outdated concept. Except that it’s not. It’s arguably one of the most important characteristics of a successful career and life. We can’t get immediate results in the gym and we can’t become successful overnight.

The most important things require patience.

So in light of that truth, maybe it’s time we slow down and practice, patience. It is, after all, a necessity.

1. Start practising patience

The best way to practice patience is to make yourself wait. Sounds hard but it does pay off. A study published in Psychological Science shows that waiting for things actually makes us happier. Start with something small like waiting a few extra minutes to eat your breakfast or eating your dinner, then move on to something bigger. You will start to train yourself to be better at patience.

2. Remove from your day what isn’t important 

We all have things in our lives that take time away from what is important. So, one way to get more of what we want quicker is to remove the things that are not important. Take a few minutes and evaluate your week. Look at your schedule from the moment you wake up to when you sleep. Take out two or three things that are time wasting but take time. This can be anything from scrolling on social media to spending time worrying.

3. Know your triggers 

Sometimes certain tasks can trigger our impatience. If we know we need to spend more time on something due to our lack of knowledge or skills we are more likely to get frustrated when it takes more time. It is better to be mindful of what makes us impatient. Write them down. This will help you deal with your impatience before it strikes you unexpectedly. Impatience is ok, it just means you really want something. Learn to accept it, deal with it and don’t let it remove your focus from what is important.

4. Breathe 

Most of all, just stay calm and focus on your breathing. It sounds simple but it is often overlooked. Taking slow deep breaths can help calm the mind and body. This is the easiest way to help ease any impatient feelings you are immediately experiencing. If you want to take it a step further

If breathing doesn’t help I find taking a walk to clear your head The point is to find some time for you each day to let go of all the frustrations.

Lifes frustrations have a way of creeping in on us without us realising. Give importance to your mental health. Give time to letting go of your stressors.

How to be aware of and master your mental states

mental state

If you’re tired or feeling down, there’s a good chance you’re not physically sick. But, every chance you are neglecting some meaningful part of your life and your mind can no longer stand it.

Our mental states will usually affect whether we exercise, socialise, eat well, educate our minds (or not), drink alcohol, have low moods, are happy, irritable or open-hearted with the people that matter to us most.

So, for obvious reasons, it’s really important to monitor mental states. It’s an incredibly powerful skill to determine the mental state you need (or don’t need) for any given moment.

The power of mastering your mental state is limitless.

However, what if you have neglected part of your inner self and now you have to deal with a bad mental state when you’re really busy at work?

You need to overcome your mental state and fast.

Well, here’s how.

How to change from a bad mental state to a good

Firstly, you have to want to do it.

You have to show commitment.

Leo Babauta from Zen Habits suggests the following practice to initiate the change from one mental state to the other.

1. Recognise that your mental state needs to change (recognition) 

For example, if you’re tired or frazzled and you need to focus on work.

2. Make it happen, despite the mental state (acceptance) 

Here you carry on with your task, regardless of your mental state.

If you’re truly committed to your task then a bad mental state certainly won’t impact you.

If you’re tired. That’s ok. Just make sure you take extra care so no mistakes are made.

If you’re frustrated simply be kind to yourself and others. You shouldn’t ever show your signs of frustration – and if you act with kindness – this would never happen.

Show generosity to whatever mental state you find yourself in and give it the extra attention it needs.

3. Take actions that contribute to a better mental state (action)

We all agree that if you’re not in a good mental state (i.e tired, distracted, anxious etc) this is a negative place to be. Therefore, the answer is clear, inject some positivity into your life and that will instantly help to lift your mood.

For example, some common actions that help you move into a better mental state:

  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Exercise
  • Talk to someone (if you’re worried about something).
  • Have a cup of tea (or your favourite soft drink).
  • Getting into a quiet, clean and uncluttered environment.
  • Disconnect yourself your computer, phone and/or tablet.
  • Playing calm (or your favourite) music.
  • Read your favourite (or current) book
  • Do something fun

There are many other possibilities, of course, but you get the idea.

This practice allows you to carry on with any task, regardless of your mood.

It’s a simple process of recognition, acceptance and action and it makes the world of difference when trying to push through negative feelings.

For more information on this topic read the very helpful blog by Leo Babauta for Zen Habits, here.

When greed takes over…

greed

The most ambitious want a slice of everything life has to over.

They want the biggest challenges in their job.

They want to be highly paid.

They want an active social life.

They want an active life; gym, yoga and dancing.

They want to watch all of their Netflix recommended shows.

They want to make all of their kid’s school plays.

They want their cake and to eat it too.

Sound familiar?

The term for this is “greed”. This word might sound a little aggressive. But it reflects the truth. If you want more than you presently have and you know that having it all, is probably impossible, that you are suffering from greed. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. We are discussing greed not to berate the human condition but to understand how greed undermines our happiness.

Why greed makes us unhappy

If we are always wanting the next big thing, then we don’t appreciate what we have, right now.

We get lost in the “want” and forget the “haves”. It’s that simple.

It makes us rush through our precious lives. Eager to get to the next step. Without pausing to focus on the beauty of the step we are already on.

How to let go of greed

1. Identify the feeling of greed

Recognise when you urge for something new. Feel is as it pulls you in another direction. Notice how it distracts you. Be self-aware when greed strikes you.

2. See the impact of greed

Next recognize what the greed makes you do. Notice how suddenly nothing is good enough until you have the “new thing”.

See how it makes you feel stressed, overwhelmed and unsatisfied.

Feel how it clouds your happiness for what you do have. 

3. Try to refrain 

You always have a choice.

You can choose to not indulge.

You can choose to not let greed take over your mind.

You can refrain.

First, when you feel the urge of greed, try to pause.

Rationalise and understand that the greed is just a feeling and you don’t need these desires, you just want them. There’s a difference.

4. Replace the greed with generosity 

Instead of trying to do everything, choose just one thing.

Ideally, choose something that’s important and purposeful, that will add value to the lives of others.

It doesn’t have to be something big.

Let go of everything else and just for a few minutes be completely at one with this thing.

Generously give it your full attention.

This practice enables you to find the value in giving and see the negative impact of greed.

What you will learn is that adding value to others will pave your pathway to success, far more efficiently than greed ever could.

 

You can still be successful without letting greed take over your entire life.

We can’t have our cake and eat it if we also want to be happy.

Stop indulging in the future and start focusing on the present.

 

Don’t let these bad habits damage your happiness

happiness

We all strive for happiness. Happiness, however, has no universal definition. Instead, it depends on you and whatever it takes to get you to the bliss, content, utter euphoric state of happiness.

Unhappiness, on the other hand, is easy to identify; you can see it, feel it and you definitely know when it’s wrapped its arms around you.

Happiness, rather satisfyingly, has little to do with financial circumstances. A University of Illinois study found that people who earn the most (more than $10 million annually) are only a tiny bit happier than their employees.

Psychologists from the University of California found that happiness makes up of only 50% your life circumstances and genetics `9i.e things outside of your control). So, the remaining 50% is up to you.

Unhappiness can catch up with you. It grows, following a long period of time, not being self-aware. During this time your thoughts and actions have been unhealthy for you. You have failed to look after your needs, properly and you are left feeling unhappy.

The good news is that this state of unhappiness is not permanent and resolvable. So much of your happiness is determined by your habits (in thought and actions) and once you are aware of the unhappiness traps – they are easily avoided to ensure you a future, filled with happiness.

1. Not being true to yourself

If you’re anxious, say it. Don’t pretend you’re not feeling something when you are. Suppressing feelings is unhealthy. It doesn’t let you deal with anything. Instead, by pushing your feelings down, and not dealing with or accepting them, you are vulnerable to them coming back and attacking you, when you least expect it.  The height of emotional intelligence is, respecting your feelings and allowing yourself to experience the consequences that come from embracing them, for what they are. Only then, can you express and use your feelings, in a manner that helps (rather than undermines) your ability to reach your goals.

2. Too much tech, too little nature

Everyone enjoys binge-watching a TV show and checking up on social media. The real question issue is how much of your time do you give to that TV show or social media pages, avoiding the real world? Does it make you feel good or numb? Most times, it doesn’t make you happy but just passes your time. Is that what you want your life to be? Did you know that taking a walk in nature is a natural anti-depressant? It can boost your flat mood far higher than any tech, ever could. Monitor your tech time and make sure you’re spending more time with nature, than tech, for a happier life, it’s that simple.

3. Waiting for the future

Telling yourself, “I’ll be happy when …” is one of the easiest unhappy habits to fall into. Future imagined circumstances don’t lead to happiness. Happiness happens, right now. Even if you get everything you want for your future, happiness comes from within. You can’t be happy, even if you have the husband/wife, car, job of your dreams if you haven’t worked on your internal happiness. Don’t spend your time waiting for something to change how you feel. Instead, be in control and focus on improving your happiness, right now.

4. Fighting change

Change is an inevitable part of life, and if you fight it it’s because you are struggling to remain in control. The problem with this is that you remain on edge, constantly fearing change and actually put up a barrier between yourself and the actions you need to take to improve your situation. You must remain adaptable for change. Be flexible. Your brain needs challenges to survive. Your brain craves adversity. By avoiding adversity you become mentally weak, which leads to unhappiness. Embrace change, live an interesting life and reap the happiness rewards.

 

 

 

The art of choosing; how to increase your self-awareness around choice

choice

The world famous expert on choice and decisions, Sheena Iyengar, wrote her book titled, “The Art of Choosing” to explain years of her cumulative research on human decision making. What makes her book so interesting (and a global book chart dominator) is that she combines psychology, politics, technology, business, and culture to understand what influences choice, how external factors affect us and what we can do better.

External factors and choice

Learning how to make choices is more important today than ever. We live in a noisy world, where choices are in abundance – being self-aware around our decision making cuts the complexity (and bias) out of our choices. Iyengar became one of the world’s most prominent researchers in this field following her famous jam study, whereby shoppers could sample 6 or 24 different varieties of jam at a supermarket. The study found six times more purchases when fewer jams were available.

How to be more self-aware around decision making

1. Understand your culture and how much choice you need

Cultures that focus and protect individual freedoms and rights, for example, Europe, and the U.S produce people who want autonomy and independence. Eastern cultures are typically more focused on community and feel more at ease with collective decisions being made on their behalf.

In a study where Asian-American and Anglo-American children were either given a toy to play with by their mothers or allowed to select a toy to play with themselves, the Asian kids played longer when their parents chose their toy, whereas the American kids played longer if they self-selected.

This kind of environmental bias can determine our overall happiness and career satisfaction. Be mindful of how much choice you need in your life and try to negotiate a career that can give you what you need.

2. A lack of choice, if left unresolved, can impact your health

Typically those in higher paid roles, with higher responsibility have better mental health. Studies show this isn’t due to more money but due to the increased freedom to structure work and tasks experienced by those in higher responsibility roles.

Feeling like you have a choice is so important that even the perception of choice matters a great deal. For example, when new residents of a nursing home were given a schedule of activities, along with instructions stating they were “allowed” to visit other floors, they felt like their health was the staff’s responsibility, and they gave up on it. Telling a second group that everything was their choice made them much happier, even though technically both groups were free to do as they pleased. This is something to remember if you lead a group of employees, choice is key to employee morale, innovation and productivity.

3. Sometimes delegating our freedom of choice is better for us, but only if we’re properly informed

Sometimes in life, we have to make really, really hard choices. This can range from life or death situations for example, deciding to keep a loved one on life support or big business choices for example, deciding how many employees you have to make redundant. In these situations, it’s often better for your mental health to delegate to an expert however, it only makes you feel better if you’re well informed about the entire decision making process.

In a study where participants read about the following three scenarios, the group that didn’t have to make the decision but was well-informed felt best about it:

  1. The parents aren’t informed about their child’s survival chances, the doctors stop the treatment and the child dies.
  2. The parents are told there’s a 60% survival chance, but with severe neurological disabilities, before the doctors stop the treatment and the child dies.
  3. The parents are told the chances and have to decide themselves.

Groups 1 and 3 felt equally as bad, for being robbed of choice and for having to deal with the circumstances, while group 2 felt glad to know what was going on and that the choice was inevitable.

Choices are everywhere and we make them multiple times a day. Our objective should be to increase self-awareness around the most important areas of our life. Why am I making this choice? Is there any external factors that may make this choice less objective? Small, probing questions can increase self-awareness around your external biases and allow you to make decisions that best serve your long term goals.

 

 

 

 

How to create your own reality

reality

 

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe – Albert Einstien

The phrase “you can create your own reality” has been buzzing around the self-development world for a while now. Without really understanding it’s significance it can seem like a vacuous, self-righteous statement when the truth is, it’s so much more. In fact, it hasn’t just been made up by an enthusiastic life coach, others have expressed the same thought for centuries: Buddha said, “What you dwell upon you become.” Hindu teachings from Shankaracharya says, “Whatever a person’s mind dwells on intensely and with firm resolve, that is exactly what he becomes.” Mahatma Gandhi says “Your beliefs become your thoughts and it says in the Talmud, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Your thoughts control your reality

So what does all of this mean? In simple terms, it means that your system of beliefs, whether conscious or subconscious in their existence, actually control the reality you experience. This rather bold statement is also supported by science.

If you think you’re incapable of something, it’s very unlikely that you will ever prove yourself wrong. This in psychology, is called the “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  A widely accepted principle that your own beliefs, shape your behavior and therefore directly influence your reality.

On a subconscious level, our beliefs have a stronger influence on the reality we perceive. Dr. Leonard Mlodinow explains it in his book, “Subliminal—How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. “The point is that we are not like computers that crunch data in a relatively straightforward manner and calculate results.  Instead, our brains are made up of a collection of many modules that work in parallel, with complex interactions, most of which operate outside our consciousness.”  Mlodinow goes on to make a very interesting point about our memory in that we “smooth out memories”. This describes the process of us adding information to, or self-editing past memories when they seem incomprehensible to us so that those past memories can fit in with our current realities. In short, we are making stuff up!

What does this mean for us? Well, it’s an important reminder that our life experience is constantly being shaped, motivated and influenced by our existing beliefs. Our belief system is a collection of the memories/experiences we have absorbed from our past. It impacts our reaction to new situations as our unconscious will automatically search our belief system for easy and automatic responses and fill it in.  If our belief system is primarily negative, in relation to a certain new experience—the experience will automatically be filled in with negative responses.  If our belief system sways to the positive— then the circumstance will be created with a positive spin.

How to create your own reality

  • Have a concrete idea of what your core beliefs systems are
  • Try to be self-aware about how past experiences can shape future reactions. It won’t be easy to dip into your subconscious but writing a timeline of life events and gaining an understanding of how these could impact your future reactions is a great start
  • Work towards eliminating any negative beliefs such as insecurities and fears – this is not an easy process but you cannot hope to achieve the reality you desire if you carry all of this baggage.
  • Enlist the help of someone who believes in you. The most successful people have done this by hiring professional coaches. There are coaching and mentoring providers in every industry from legal coaching providers to communication and performance training coaches – for more information read here.

Becoming more self-aware is no easy task and in fact, it’s a lifelong lesson but every day we can make progress and become the best version of ourselves.

To read more about the science of creating your own reality, read here

 

15 affirmations that will immediately change your mindset

affirmation

We are an embodiment of our thoughts. Whilst external factors do have influence over what we think, how we construe those external factors, is the most important part of our thought process. I’ve written extensively on how failure has driven many to success, well, affirmations premise on the same principle – we can’t control what happens in our life but we can control our reaction to those circumstances, it’s all down to our thinking. Life truly stems from our thoughts – we are what we think and affirmations help us to craft the life we want.

Why affirmations offer so much value

Affirmations help to purify and clarify our thoughts so that we stay aligned with our internal values. Affirmations are very powerful and actually restructure the dynamic of our brains because they raise the level of positive hormones in our brain and create “positive thought” neurons (http://www.arlenetaylor.org/brain-care/953-affirmation). This process creates, new, positive thinking channels allowing us to permanently change the way in which we think, for the better.  The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.

Why we should practice self-affirmation

Affirmations strengthen us by helping us to believe in the potential of an action we desire to manifest. By saying our dreams and aspirations aloud in our heads, we instantly feel empowered and reassured by our own words. This is because we actively discount other (conscious or unconscious) negative thoughts or doubts we have attached to our goals and we finally allow ourselves to truly believe our dreams can and will become a reality. Affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement, not only do they re-wire our brain, as discussed,  but they play a crucial role in crafting our future. Thinking positively and ultimately believing in yourself opens you to a world of opportunities, one that could easily be closed, with a more negative mindset.

15 of the most impactful affirmations

So, on days when you feel clouded or bogged down because things may not be going your way, here are the most impactful thought affirmations to help you instantly change your mindset, for the long-term;

1) I am superior to negative thoughts and ill-intentioned actions

2) My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite

3) I acknowledge my own self-worth; I have no need for external validation

4) I am confident and I can handle any obstacle thrown in front of me

5) I am calm, peaceful and want the best for everyone around me

6) I am right where I am meant to be in my life, I trust in my path

7) I am intelligent and capable of accomplishing anything I desire

8) My positive attitude, confidence and hard work naturally brings me to new opportunities

9) I am grateful for everything I have in my life

10) I always make other people feel important when I am around them

11) I accept people for who they are and believe they are doing their best

12) I attract success easily into my life

13) My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is plentiful with prosperity

14) Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life

15) Today, I wake up with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind

For more about affirmations and how they can benefit your life read this comprehensive blog here for affirmations for every area of life read here 

 

The two types of self awareness and why leaders need both

self-awareness

Self-awareness is the not so new leadership buzzword. Science suggests that when we are more self-aware we are more confident, innovative and empathetic, it even enhances our communication and decision-making abilities. All of these aforementioned qualities are the hallmarks of a good leader. Those with enhanced self-awareness are more effective leaders, fact. Bold statement but it’s reflective of decades of leadership research. So, how can you enhance your self-awareness? The first step is to understand the concept of self-awareness.

Self-awareness

There are two types of self-awareness. Whilst the definition of self-awareness is not set in stone, all schools of thought identify its internal and external characteristics. Self-awareness is the clarity in which we see ourselves “internal” and also our ability to perceive how others view us “external”.

It’s easy to assume that being high on one type of self-awareness would mean you are high on the other but, this is not the case. Research suggests that leaders tend to focus on internal self-awareness and this could be their biggest downfall. Leaders who practice external self-awareness and see themselves as their employees do have a better relationship with them, feel more satisfied with them, and typically execute more effective leadership over them.

Leaders must therefore actively work on both elements of self-awareness – seeing themselves clearly and getting feedback to understand how others see them.

The self-awareness traps

To ensure you don’t inhibit your self-awareness development here are some common traps, leaders have been shown to fall into;

1. Over-confidence

An interesting statistic shows that more-experienced managers are worse at assessing their self-awareness abilities in comparison to less experienced managers. This is the over-confidence trap that many leaders fall into. Believing you know everything closes your mind to new knowledge and increases your chance of mistakes. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap, regardless of your level of experience you can always learn more and be better.

2. Introspection is not the path to self-awareness

Contrary to popular belief, people who practice introspection – the examination of our own thoughts and feelings – are actually less self-aware than others and even report worse overall job satisfaction and well-being. Why? Research shows that we don’t have access to many of the unconscious thoughts, feelings and internal influencers we seek to find through introspection. So, much of the information surrounding self-awareness is trapped outside of our conscious and if we can’t find the answers we may invent answers that feel true but are often wrong – leading to false conclusions.

How to increase self-awareness

In her new book, Insight, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich reveals her analysis of people that have drastically increased their self-awareness.

In a series of surveys, Eurich found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% truly are.

Eurich, thankfully for us, states to become more self-aware there only two points to address, each focusing on internal and external awareness;

1. Building internal self-awareness 

Eurich cautions against writing lengthy journal entries, these can force you to go deeper than required and attach meaning where you don’t have the answers. Instead, Eurich suggests a more practical approach of looking for themes and patterns in your work. Try to replace the “Why?” of introspection with the “What” of practicality. For example, at the end of every day, Eurich recommends asking yourself, “What went well today? What did I learn that I might do differently? Whose perspective can I get if I’m having a particular challenge?”

2. Building external self-awareness 

Eurich suggests finding a “loving critic” at work. Asking all your colleagues for feedback is overwhelming. Instead, find one person who wants you to succeed and is also unafraid to tell you the naked truth. Take them out to lunch, letting him or her know in advance what you’re looking for. To lead the conversation, Eurich suggests asking things like, “What do I do that adds the most value to our team? What’s the thing I do that’s detracting from our success?”

The self-awareness path isn’t easy but with your focus on the right things, you can be on your way incredibly effective leadership and higher overall work/life satisfaction.

 

If you are interested in finding out where you are on the self-awareness scale an incredibly useful test by Harvard Business Review can be found here.

What could your career look like without fear?

fear

Whilst typically understood as a negative emotion, fear has a purpose. It penetrates our thoughts for a reason and the more we ignore it, the more we are at risk of suffering from its undesired consequences.

Fear has become a great method of influence for many areas of society. We are continually faced with “fear ultimatums”. Politicians incite fear to win votes, governments use fear to keep society in check and parents use fear to discipline their children. Fear plays a big role in our lives.

In a career context, because we are so used to co-existing with fear we forget to monitor it. Fear-driven thoughts can sabotage our careers if left unchecked. This is because fear can alter our perceptions and reduce our desire to chase opportunities because we mistake them as “threats”- when in reality we are just scared.

Imagine what your career would look like without fear? Who could you be?  In order to break down your fear barriers, you must understand your particular fears and triggers.

Breakdown of common fears

Fear of success

Did you know that fear of success is just as common as fear of failure? Many of us have been conditioned to believe that success exists with risks such as disappointment, financial loss. competition or envy.These terms create a mental picture that success comes with negative baggage. Fear of success can lead you to unconsciously sabotage your goals. This type of fear is harder to identify than the fear of failure, mainly because it is less understood. Success is unknown territory, you might feel like you’re on a stage but you don’t know the script and that is scary. But when you really boil down your fears – fear of embarrassment, disappointment or even competition, is it really so scary? What’s the worst that can happen? Is it better to stay safe in your comfort zone, never making anything of yourself? Only you know the answer.

Fear of Failure 

This is the most commonly understood fear which inhibits the success of many. The fear of failing is often driven by perfectionism. A need to always have a perception of intelligence, control or beauty. The need to never come across as a human. The truth is that the energy spent worrying about what others think, is almost always a waste of our time. This fear prevents you from learning important lessons from mistakes, lessons that created our leaders of today. You can’t pay for this type of personal and professional growth – it’s invaluable – but your fear of failure can prevent you from paying attention. You can box yourself into being average if you decide your failure is a sign of incompetence. How you choose to react to failure will make or break your career. It can either be a lesson or a barrier, the outcome is your choice.

How to break away from fear in your career

  1. Identify every fear you have when you vision your ultimate success. Name each fear, for example, Nelson or Wilfred. Make your fears less intimidating, befriend them. Use their names to identify them when they show up, “Nelson’s back!” This will help you to consciously separate your fears from your mind when it matters most.
  2. Identify your triggers. Really dig deep and find out why you have these fears. Are you lacking in confidence? Did someone talk down to you and you let their words become your reality? Only when you face your fears, can you truly be free from them?

For more advice about how to break away from your career fears, read this useful blog @Forbes

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