Speaking to an audience is quite arguably one of the scariest endeavors one can face. Many say, ‘I have a fear of public speaking’, but I contend ‘they have many fears of public speaking’. One such fear is the fear of failure. The following paragraphs describe what the fear of failure feels like to me.
It’s a huge rock. A boulder if you will. Dark grey, cool to the touch and heavy. So heavy I am straining to hold it and I pull it close to me for better leverage. My breath is restricted as I shift under its weight. My shoulders all knots. I cannot seem to put this musty, dirty thing down. I can’t see around it and I’m losing sight of my path. I wander this way and that and look up to try to gain some clarity. I’m even more disoriented now.
When I first grabbed hold of it, (the fear of failure) it was just a pebble. It felt nice to have something to hold on to. It grounded me and made me feel safe. Over time it grew, but by then I felt secure and comfortable with my familiar rock. Others would comment on how nice it must be and I hugged it with appreciation. Eventually, it got too big to take outside with me. I decided it was best to stay home and set it on my lap. It was more comfortable then having to carry it.
I didn’t realize that staying indoors only made it grow bigger. I wanted to leave it behind to go out for walk, but I couldn’t move. Panic set in and, again I stayed put. The bigger the rock got the more I shrank.
One day my favorite client called to talk about a presentation he wanted me to deliver. My excitement turned to dread when reality sunk in. How would I present while holding onto this huge fear of failure? I was scared. What if the person they remember is no longer here? What if I traded all that I was for the safety this rock provides? What if the part of me that is being called forth has been crushed beneath its weight?
I cling even tighter knowing I have a decision to make. Either I must face fear completely exposed and vulnerable on my own or I continue to embrace the crushing comfort of safety until I am unrecognizable.
We are human and we will fear failure. At times it will be easier to succumb to failure than to embrace expansion. To give up or to give in can be easier than stepping out into the unknown with all the world’s possibility in front of you. So, I ask you, is it really a fear of failure or a fear of expansion that haunts you?
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Sara Cross' background in corporate sales has allowed her the privilege to connect with people at all levels within organizations. She's had the opportunity to hear the struggles and challenges many face on a daily basis. Constant pressure and expectations can steer us off course and have us abandoning our purpose. Sara believes with confidence we can make the difference we were meant to make in life and is devoted to evoking courage in others through speaking and coaching.