If there’s one thing I hate, it’s two-faced scumbags.
And there’s one particular scumbag I hate.
It’s slick. It’s scheming. It’s manipulative. And it casts illusions before your eyes like a magician with smoke and mirrors, leading you further and further away from the truth.
That scumbag is fear.
The 2 Masks Of Fear
In public speaking, we often attribute our anxiety to the fear of failure – the fear of blanking out, being rejected, embarrassing yourself or not being good enough.
These are legitimate and healthy fears to have.
Fear in this form is simply your reptilian brain kicking its survival mechanism into gear, and rather than seeing it as a threat to your growth, you should see it as a signpost that you’re on the edge of your comfort zone.
But sometimes there’s more to it.
Sometimes we justify our fear of failure and avoidance behavior with seemingly selfless explanations. Let’s call this Mask #1.
And sometimes, you don’t actually fear failing. You actually fear succeeding. We’ll call this Mask #2.
I know. It doesn’t make any logical sense. But we do it as human beings.
And because it doesn’t make any logical sense (imagine telling the average person that you’re afraid of being successful!), we often end up bashing our heads against the wall, trying to figure out why we’re not making as much progress as we’d like.
Take for example, the fear of failure…
Mask #1 – The Fear Of Failure
You’re probably most familiar with this form of fear.
You’ll be up on stage giving a talk, and your mind starts churning out thoughts like:
- “What if I screw up?”
- “What if I embarrass myself?”
- “What if I get in front of this audience and I blank out?
- “What if I ruin my reputation?“
You’re so nervous, so stressed out and so shy that it takes away your power.
And as a result, you avoid speaking opportunities. Or, you push yourself to speak but don’t end up doing well so you beat yourself up thinking “I should have done better.”
It’s okay to have these fears. You can work on them.
But it stops being okay when you don’t acknowledge these fears as your own and your mind conjures up a seemingly selfless explanation that justifies your avoidance behavior – you might not even be aware that you’re doing this.
A classic example of this is a client I had who owned a very well established business.
When I asked him what his big fear was, this is what happened:
CLIENT: “Lucas, my big fear is I get invited to talk at conferences all the time, but I really love my staff. They’re so meaningful – it’s like a family to me. And I have over 100 employees. If I get up there and I bomb a talk, it’s going to have a negative impact on my reputation. And if that happens, my business might suffer. And I might have to start letting people go and laying them off. I couldn’t live with myself if I did that. That’s why I avoid them – because I don’t want to ruin my company by doing this.”
Could you imagine how much pressure he must’ve been putting on himself? Here he was, thinking that if he gave just one talk, his entire company, which took him 15 years to build, could disappear overnight.
So I threw him a curveball.
ME: “Why do you think you’re so important?“
CLIENT: “What?”, he said, looking puzzled and clearly caught off guard.
I stuck to my guns.
ME: “Who do you think you are, thinking that you’re going to do one talk and it’s going to be so bad that this entire company is just going to blow? What are you possibly going to say?“
He started thinking it about it.
CLIENT: “I don’t know. I don’t know what I would say.”
Digging deeper into his fear of this failure, we later discovered it was a reflection of his own insecurities and his own judgments.
These insecurities and self-judgments carried a lot of shame and guilt, and in an effort to mask this, he had built up a false belief that he was protecting his employees by choosing not to speak in public.
Eventually, he realized and said “Wow, okay. Maybe I am really hard on myself. Maybe I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that it’s unrealistic and it’s leading me to not take action.“
From there, we got him on camera, built his skillset up, and re-programmed his mind so that he’d see he could speak well, and that speaking wouldn’t harm his reputation, nor his employees. Rather, it would actually enhance his company’s reputation.
Mask #2 – The Fear Of Success
The fear of success is something I still struggle with sometimes.
It’s a weird one.
It’s when you think to yourself:
- “What happens if I get really good?”
- “What if I get really famous? How could I deal with it? I like my privacy. I like the fact that I can go to yoga class and nobody knows who I am. I just want to go there and recharge – I enjoy that.”
For me, I see other business owners who tell me they get 200-300 emails a day, and I think to myself “That’s terrible. There’s no way I would want that.”
That’s where this fear of success comes in.
It starts off really simple but quickly grows to monstrous proportions if you’re not careful.
You’ll go from “What’s going to happen if I succeed?” to “Maybe my family is going to treat me different. Maybe I’m going to lose my friends because they’re going to think, ‘Oh, you’re a successful person and I’m struggling, so we can’t hang out anymore.’ ”
As humans, we’re very complex, and these fears can have many layers behind them, so oftentimes the fear of success is not obvious.
If you’re in one of those weird spots where you’ve worked on your fear of failure and become quite confident at your craft as a result, yet there’s still something holding you back, it might be a good time to take a step back and ask yourself:
If I became really successful, what would change in my life?
What would have to change?
What would be different?
Would people treat me differently?
Because it could be that there’s a bit of self-sabotage going on in your mind, stemming from a deep underlying fear of your own success.
When you can be honest with yourself and address that, you’ll soon realize how you’ve been holding yourself back from moving forward as quickly as you can.
Let’s Face Your Truth Together
To quickly become a confident communicator requires only one thing.
And that’s running towards the truth as fast as you can.
The quicker you can confront the fears, the anxieties, the hesitations, and the insecurities that are potentially holding you back from achieving your dream, the quicker you get the freedom to start doing something about it.
But like I mentioned before, it’s not always obvious where your fear is really coming from.
It’s like going to the doctor to cure an illness – to treat yourself effectively, you must first diagnose yourself correctly.
So, perhaps you’re struggling with facing your own insecurities. Or maybe it’s the fear of success.
Whatever it is, let me know by commenting below, and I’ll shoot a video to help you out. Just answer this one question:
“What are your biggest fears and insecurities when it comes to public speaking?“
I look forward to reading your comments!
Level Up Living
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you speak with confidence:
- Grab a free copy of my ‘6 Steps To Speak With Confidence’ guide
It’s the 6-step process I use to take clients from anxious on stage to rock-solid confidence. — Click Here
- Join the ‘Art Of Confident Speaking’ and connect with leaders who are improving too
It’s our new Facebook community where smart leaders learn to level up their insight, impact and influence. — Click Here
- Join my 3-day ‘Speak With Confidence Program’ and become a Case Study
It’s the fastest way to become a confident communicator… If you’d like to work with me and a small group of highly motivated leaders like yourself… Click Here