Overcoming the Four Fatal Fears in Life and Business

Four fatal fears help define the most common fears of business owners and leaders. What if you fail, say something wrong, are rejected, or become uncomfortable? This will help propel your growth if you can use them to your advantage. 

Fear of failure in business is expected. After all, you are starting a business to be successful. When you intentionally confront your fears, they lose power over your actions.

You’ll be able to read on to learn more about the four fatal fears, how to overcome them, and how to improve your mindset for the better.

A young woman sits behind a desk biting her fingernails depicting the four fatal fears.

What Are the Four Fatal Fears?

Psychologist Maxie Maultsby’s concept of the Four Fatal Fears includes:

  • The fear of failure – The inner critic tells us, “If it’s not perfect, it’s wrong,” when there are different ways to find the path.
  • The fear of being wrong – The inner voice that makes sound decisions on bad intel forgets this can be a lesson in the making.
  • The fear of rejection – The internalized head trash that tells you a “No” invalidates you when it frees up your time to find your “yes.”
  • The fear of facing uncomfortable emotions – The pre-programmed reaction to step back with fear in the face of discomfort when stepping up helps you gain control and confidence.

Although these are four fatal fears, some professionals may add dozens. Fears in business are normal. How you react in the face of fear will define your leadership style and the success of your business. In Play to Win by Larry and Hersh Wilson, we learn that ego is tied to many of the above fears. “I don’t want to be wrong, so I must be right” leaves little room for reflection and thought adjustments.

How to Overcome Fear

Consider your younger self and your older self. What advice would they give you? What would you do if you didn’t have fear?

The four fatal fears are just names for emotions and scenarios that likely aren’t true. If you can pick up a fear, you can also put it down. 

To overcome fear, consider these exercises:

  • Failure: Overcome the fear of failure by doing something brand new to you – like a painting or pottery class. It’s unlikely that your piece will be featured in the MoMa anytime soon, but the expected failure and potential delight may help alter your definition of failure.
  • Wrong: Overcome the fear of being wrong by talking to a close friend who is a professional in their field and asking question after question. Then, repeat what you learned to them. You’re likely going to mis-hear some of the key takeaways. Being wrong equates to a learning opportunity.
  • Rejection: Tim Ferris suggests asking the cashier for a discount the next time you order a coffee or lunch. They will likely say “No”; however, sometimes they’ll say “Yes.” Intermittent positive reinforcement will make you forget the rejection.
  • Uncomfortable emotions: Overcome emotions foreign to you by listing emotions that make you uneasy, what sparks that feeling, and how you believe you would react if you have the time to consider it in advance. Preparing your nervous system for emotions can lessen their impact in the future.

Is Fear a Good Motivator?

Sometimes, entrepreneurs have a fear of being unsuccessful, but they also have a fear of being successful. 

Asking “If I succeed, what will my friends think of me?” has as much influence as “If I fail, what will my friends think of me?”. This slight shift in perspective can help change your perspective of the four fatal fears. Fear can be a good motivator initially, but you cannot live in fear without it negatively affecting you, your business, and your relationships.

We all harbor fears, and my coaching clients have heard me refer to it as “head trash.”  If you would like to explore solutions for your fatal fears in your business, click here for a complimentary video meeting with me.  I am an expert at exorcising your head trash fears.

Coach Dave

Dave Schoenbeck
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