Are you suffering from undiagnosed fear?
Feeling stuck? If you’re not moving the needle in your business, fear is often the culprit. But you’re not suffering from clichés such as the fear of success, or the fear of failure. Listen to this episode to learn THE FIVE FEARS that are really at work, and what you can do about them.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
When you’re stuck, fear is almost always the culprit. In this show, you’ll learn:
- Why fear of success isn’t really a thing
- Why fear of failure isn’t, either.
- What’s really at issue? Five separate fears. You may never have heard of them, but if you’re stuck, they’re the reason.
- You’ll also learn what to do about them
- (hint—it’s not about “feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Because that never works)
LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE:
Welcome to Episode 2 of HOW TO MAKE MORE MONEY, a podcast that helps you get seriously good at the game of making serious money.
I’m your host Kelly Hollingsworth, and I’m so glad you’re here. Today we’re going to discuss a big topic for entrepreneurs, and that is FEAR.
Where does fear typically come up? Usually it’s right at the starting line. Before you’ve even left the house. When it comes time to going out and attracting an audience, making an offer, or asking for the investment, this is when it’s so easy to get tongue tied and interminably busy doing other things that don’t move the needle in your business. Why does this happen? Because this is when the terror strikes. We may not be aware of what’s happening, or what flavor of fear we’re experiencing, but if you have a big juicy line of new business on your horizon, but can’t never seem to get it out of your head and you’re continually feeling paralyzed in getting it going, undiagnosed fear is probably the reason.
So today I want to talk about fear. And the first thing I want to say about fear is that the way we think about fear is not helpful.
“Fear of Success” isn’t a thing. Neither is “Fear of Failure”
When we feel stuck and we know that fear is the culprit, what do we typically say?
What we typically say is, , “I have a fear of success.” Or, “I have a fear of failure.”
None of this is true.
Think about “fear of success” for a second. If you had your sweet, seven-figure plus income, would you feel afraid? Just imagine it. Money worries are a thing of the past. There’s not a single thing at Nordstrom that you might want but can’t buy. Mortgage paid off. The Tesla is in the garage. The kids’ college is secure. Financially, everything is fine. And when everything is fine financially, pretty much everything else is fine. Because the truth is, there are very few problems that money can’t solve. And the problems it doesn’t solve go down a lot easier with all that money can do to make life easier. So when you’re enjoying that big income, your reality looks pretty amazing.
Just imagine yourself in that place. What I just described is your reality. Would you feel afraid, or delighted? I’m going to guess delighted. Not afraid. Because there’s nothing scary about “everything is fine” and a whole lotta money rolling in the door.
Can you picture it? I definitely can, and it is delightful. So what does this exercise show us? That when you’re stuck in the unhappy “before” picture in your business, fear of success is a wholly inaccurate description for what is holding you back.
The same thing goes for “fear of failure.” If you’re not where you want to be right now, technically, you’re in the “failure” right now. And it’s not that bad, is it? You’re fine. You had your coffee this morning. Clean water to brush your teeth. You probably went to sleep and woke up in a warm, dry bed with a roof over your head. Even if you didn’t, you’re probably still doing okay, and the way I know that is because you’re listening to this podcast right now. Not fighting lions and tigers and bears. So how bad can life be? So even if you’re in the “failure” right now, I’m going to guess that right now in this moment, you’re fine. While you’re theoretically sitting in the failure, everything is fine. Nothing terribly scary going on at all. So fear of failure isn’t really a thing, either.
“Fear” isn’t one big thing. It’s a collection of five different types of fear.
So what’s really going on, as far as fear is concerned? The truth is, there’s no one “big” fear that comes up when it’s time to go out and get our businesses moving. When you’re feeling stuck and unable to do that one simple thing that you must do to make more money, the cause isn’t just one fear, but rather a tapestry of five separate and distinct fears. Each of them is a pathogen, and collectively they contribute to the disease of underearning.
So today let’s talk about the five fears that are really keeping you stuck. These fears, not fear of success… Not fear of failure, are the reasons that we so often feel scared when it comes time to going out and doing the things that really make you money. These fears are the real reasons that we so often feel paralyzed when we think about “putting ourselves out there” and getting into the game in a bigger way.
Today I’m going to tell you what these five fears are, because the first step to knocking something down and getting it out of your life is stringing it up in the broad light of day and taking a good hard look at exactly what it is. The monster under the bed is scary until you turn the light on and you see what’s really there.
So now let’s dive in. Let’s take a look at these fears one by one.
The Five Fears that are Keeping You Stuck
To do this, picture your money-making journey as a road trip. Right now, you’re at home, safe inside your house, and if you want your money you’re going to have to get in your car and get yourself on the road so you can collect it.
Visualize your business as a car. It’s in your garage. And where are you? You’re standing beside the car, wondering if you should go out there and go get your money, or not.
Fear #1: The Fear of Desire
If you’re going to drive down the road towards your big business success story, what’s the first thing you need to do? You’re going to have to get in the car. To get in the car, you have to WANT to get in the car, and you have to be okay with other people KNOWING that you want to get in the car.
Wanting is key. The first step to having a highly profitable business is wanting a highly profitable business. When you want it, that’s the equivalent of getting in the car. You’re not standing beside the car, wondering if you want it or not. You actually get in the car.
And this is where so many entrepreneurs get stuck. They talk about business. They listen to podcasts about business. They read books and buy courses and collect certifications and learn as much as they can. Maybe they even talk to lawyers and set up LLCs and open bank accounts. They do all the things, except for going out there and sharing the message about how they can help actual clients in exchange for actual cash.
All of this is the equivalent of buying the car, but never getting into the driver’s seat. Why does this happen? Because of what I call The Fear of Desire. This is the first of the Five Fears that prevent so many of us from spreading the word about what we do.
To see if you have the fear of desire, here’s a little test: Imagine your friends’ businesses. They do a great job delivering people to their happy ending, whatever businesses they happen to be in. Your friends’ clients get exactly where they’re going, and everyone is happy. Do you have any problem showing up on social media and recommending your friends’ businesses to people who might need their services? My guess is no. Do you have any problem telling people in person about your friends’ businesses? Again, my guess is no.
But now think about your own business. Let’s assume you are as good as your friends, in creating results for your clients. If that’s the case, can you show up and recommend your own business with the same degree of comfort and enthusiasm as your friend’s business? If not, that’s the fear of desire.
With the Fear of Desire, it’s okay to want money, to the extent that if someone gives it to you, you’ll accept it. You’ll joyfully accept it. It’s also okay to help people. That, you’ll gladly do all day long.
What’s not okay is to want the money in exchange for helping people. When we have the fear of desire, we don’t want people to know that we want money in exchange for our help. Why? Because so many of us have been led to believe that we’re supposed to help people for free. The discomfort around helping people for money is what shuts us down.
And this means failure in commerce. Because what is commerce? It’s a world where you help people in exchange for money. If you’re struggling to promote your business in any way, this is a concept that feels uncomfortable, helping people for money. Why? Because you have an internal rule that says, “Nope. I’m supposed to provide help for free.” This internal rule sets you up to fail, because it kills desire, and desire is the emotion that gets you in the car. If you’re afraid to want money in exchange for your goods or services, or to let people see that you want money for what you do, you’re not going to create it, because you’re not even going to get in the car. This is a big reason that so many talented entrepreneurs get stuck at the starting line.
When you acknowledge and embrace your own desire, that’s when you get in the car. So desire is one of the emotions you need for a highly profitable business. If you’re afraid of revealing own desire, you’re not going to go out and collect your money.
Fear #2: The Fear of Autonomy
The second emotion that creates a highly profitable business is engagement. Desire is the feeling that gets you in the car. Engagement is the feeling that gets the car out of park and puts it in drive.
Without engagement, what happens? Visualize a little kid sitting in the front seat of mom or dad’s car. Hands on the steering wheel. Going through the motions. Playing at driving the car. But the car is in park, so it’s clear to everyone that this car isn’t going anywhere. All of this activity is just pretending.
Now let’s look at what happens when you get in the car and you intend to move forward. The transmission is engaged. Your car is in drive and positioned to move forward.
The engagement equivalent in your business is that you are mentally and emotionally involved. You are committed to moving your business forward. And this presents a sticking point for many entrepreneurs. Why? Because we’ve been indoctrinated into believing that when our brains are engaged in thoughts of business, we are harming the people we care about.
We’ve been taught to believe that, if I’m thinking about my business, that’s going to harm someone. We know the harm isn’t physical. No one’s going to lose a leg if you’re thinking about your business, probably. So what exactly is the harm? It’s emotional. We’ve been indoctrinated into believing that if we’re thinking about our business instead of our babies or other stakeholders in our lives—it could be parents, grown children, employees and clients from another line of business. Whoever it is, if you have the fear of autonomy, you’re holding back because you’re thinking your mental and emotional engagement in your business is going to make them feel bad. And if they feel bad, then you’re going to feel even worse.
If you have this going on, you have what I call The Fear of Autonomy. It runs rampant among parents these days, and not just for women who are wives and mothers, but also for men who are in that role of primary caretaker of children.
If you’re in this role, and you want to know if you have The Fear of Autonomy, think about this: if your kids are hovering about and you’re thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner, do you feel bad? My guess is no.
But if they are hovering about and you are thinking about what you’re going to make in your business, do you feel bad? If you have the fear of autonomy, then yes, you do feel bad. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But whatever the degree, the fear of autonomy arises from the idea that your mentally engagement in your own commercial pursuits, rather than constantly thinking about and acting on behalf of your family members or other stakeholders in your life, is causing damage to them.
I call this the fear of autonomy because “autonomy is the right to self-government. Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political, and bioethical philosophy. It refers to the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, uncoerced decision.” We fear autonomy because our brains have been coerced into believing that us thinking about anything related to our own interests is harmful to those around us.
When you have this rule in your playbook—that you will harm your family, or others, by growing your business–you have the fear of autonomy. It’s the feeling that keeps your business stuck in park. You may be doing things in your business, that creates a fear that keeps your busines stuck in park. You may be doing things in your business, but without mental and emotional engagement, you’re just going through the motions. You’re not positioning the car to move forward by putting it in drive.
Fear #3: The Fear of Visibility
The next thing that happens in your entrepreneurial journey is yet another place to stay stuck. You’re sitting in the car. The car is in drive. But you have your foot on the brake and the garage door is still down. so you’re still not going anywhere.
What is the thing that keeps our feet on the brake and the garage door down, so we’re sitting alone in the dark? For way too many of us, it’s that we’re terrified to be seen. This is The Third Fear—the Fear of Visibility.
This one goes way back for many of us, including me. I will never forget standing in my mother’s living room when I was just beginning to get traction and create some business success. I was in my early thirties. Home from New York for a visit, and she said to me, “Well, save your money, sweetie, because once you looks start to go, it’s all over.”
And I remember feeling incredulous. When she said this, I laughed and my eyebrows shot up to the room. I asked her, “What do you think I do for living, Mom? Supermodel???”
Clearly, the answer was no. I’m not (and have never been) a supermodel. But the fact that my own mother asked me that question is evidence that we are all swimming in a brine of “if you don’t look good enough, you can’t make money.” We can laugh at it on the outside, but in reality, we’re crying on the inside. Because we’ve collectively and often unknowingly, bought into this idea that business is a game for the most beautiful, but not for us. Most of this is unconscious, so in this respect, we’re like fish in the sea. We don’t even realize there’s water there. But it is there. It’s invisible to us, and we are DROWNING in it.
This is the fear of visibility. If you have it, your foot is on the brake and the garage door is down until you lose 20 pounds and get your hair done and get your nails done and get your Botox done and maybe even get that facelift once and for all. And this is one of the fears that really ticks me off, because it keeps amazing entrepreneurs out of the game and from making amazing money. It keeps your foot on the brake of your business.
Fear #4: Fear of Confrontation
When you get past the fear of visibility, the next thing that you must do on your entrepreneurial journey is get your car out of the garage… The door is lifted. You’ve opened the door. The sun is shining on your face, and it’s time to step on the gas.
This brings me to power. The gas in your business is your power. Specifically, your superpower. When you step into your expertise and show the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else, that’s when your business takes off.
Showing up as an expert to show your people how you can help them is one super obvious way to make more money. But so many lower-earning entrepreneurs hide the expertise they’ve developed while they’ve been hiding at home suffering from the first three fears. Why do they hide it? Because of The Fourth Fear—the Fear of Confrontation.
Showing the expertise that sets you apart from everyone feels like it puts you at risk for confrontation, because it means calling things into question. It means sharing your opinions that may contradict the opinions of others. It means killing the sacred cows and shaking up the status quo.
In short, if you want people to see you as the expert, you are and start making money from your expertise, that means disagreeing with others. Because what do we know about experts? If you’re an expert, your knowledge is comprehensive and authoritative. Expertise flies in the face of conventional wisdom. That’s why we value it. It enables us to rise above what’s normal, what everyone else is doing, and get to an elevated version of our happy ending. That’s why the world needs your expertise. This is why we love experts. It helps us get where we’re going faster, quicker, and to a better happy ending that we could have gotten to on our own.
So as an entrepreneur, if you want unconventional success in your business, your own elevated happy ending of your own, so to speak,, YOU are going to have to do that, too. You’re going to have to fly in the face of convention, and show us what you know, that’s contrary to what the rest of us think we know and that is causing us all to bumble about and struggle. We will stop struggling when you show us your superpower, by showing up as the expert that you are, and sharing your valuable expertise with us. We need it.
And here, I can almost hear so many listeners saying, “But I’m not an expert.” We’re going to talk a lot more about this in upcoming episodes, but for now, suffice it to say that every entrepreneur who’s ever told me, “I’m not an expert,” was in fact an expert. The fear of confrontation is strong that it literally blinds us to the reality of our own expertise.
This is a coaching opportunity when it comes up. I help my clients see the truth about themselves. And once they do, they see what’s really going on behind, “I’m not an expert.” When they acknowledge their own expertise, “I’m not an expert” inevitably morphs into, “Okay, so I am an expert. But what if there’s someone out there who knows more, or who thinks they know more, and they challenge me? What if they come at me? I hate confrontation.”
This is the fourth fear that keeps entrepreneurs stuck in the metaphorical garage, hidden from the world, and not making money because you’re not out there spreading the word. If you have the fear of confrontation, you know it because you’re playing small. And you’re playing nice. And here, I don’t mean “nice” in the sense of not biting the heads off of baby bats. I mean nice in the sense of, never saying anything that anyone could possibly disagree with.
But here’s the magical thing. When you dissolve the fear of confrontation in your own life, then what happens? You find yourself out on the open road, serving your people and making more money than you ever imagined. And what happens then? Then there’s only one more thing in front of you that plagues underearning entrepreneurs everywhere. It is the Fear of Equality.
Fear of Equality
With the fear of equality, the question is, are you going to hold your speed down so that you can remain “behind” other people in your life, as far as money goes? Or are you going to push down on the gas and take your income as far as you can take it?
So many of us like the idea of really pressing on the gas, but when push comes to shove, we feel trepidation This is the fear of equality in a nutshell. If you have it, you are artificially slowing the speed of your own success because you don’t want to surpass someone else.
How do you know if this is you? You may hear yourself saying things like “My kids come first.” “My spouse comes first.” “My friends come first.” “My family comes first.” If you’re currently employed, you might say, “This is just a side hustle. My employer comes first.”
These are the loveliest-sounding thoughts in the world, aren’t they? That someone else comes first? It sounds so altruistic. So unselfish.
But implicit in these lovely-sounding ideas of putting someone else first, is the unspoken part that isn’t so lovely. And that feels so frustrating. It’s you putting three other very important things last: 1) yourself, 2) your business and income, and 3) the people your business is intended to serve.
The fear of equality comes in different flavors—I’ll get to that in a second—but often, this particular fear falls on gender lines. Women are generally the clients who tell me that someone else comes first. And this isn’t by accident.
The other day I was talking about this very issue at an in-person training I was doing, and one woman said, “I just can’t get past what I learned in church. Women are supposed to submit to men.”
I also hear, “My husband is the breadwinner.” Or, “I don’t really need to make money. I want to, but I don’t need to, because someone else does that for me.” This isn’t from women who are housewives, who don’t have a business and who have no interest in entrepreneurship. I hear this from women who are high six and even seven figure earners already. They’re already making a significant income, but they are still taking a mental backseat to their husbands, and their husbands’ incomes.
The fear of equality is in my mind the most fascinating of the fears we’re discussing today, because for women while on the one hand we want equal rights, and equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity in every sphere of life, on the other hand, often we’re internally conflicted. And this is one of the only places where we realize that we have that deep internal conflict still—around money and earning money. And this internal conflict is the driving force behind women’s diminished earnings.
To quote a famous hedge fund manager named Ed Seykota, “Everyone gets what they want. Some people want to lose, so they win, by losing.”
And this is what fear of equality does to us, my friends. On some level, it makes us desire to take a backseat to someone else. Maybe to everyone else. And when that’s what we want, that’s exactly what we get.
This is the primary reason in my mind, men are still making more than women. When you fear equality, that keeps you moving slowly, and I think this is another of the five fears that falls sharply on gender lines. This particular flavor if it anyway.
But it also comes up in other contexts. Many of my clients—both male and female–often feel uncomfortable surpassing a mentor or a colleague or even a competitor. When it comes time for many entrepreneurs to take that big leap forward, and to really make their mark, they hold back, to avoid surpassing someone else in their same business. They say, “No. That’s their business. It’s what they do. I don’t want to infringe on their turf.”
I’ve also seen the fear of equality come up with parents. Recently I was interviewed for Miriam Schulman’s’ amazing podcast, The Inspiration Place. It’s for artists and creatives who want commercial success. And in that episode, Miriam said, “Listen Kelly. You’ve worked with women. And you’ve worked with men. But the men you’ve worked with are generally the highest earning men on the planet. Maybe there are other men on the planet who suffer from the fears that women suffer from, and you just haven’t seen it.”
And I thought, yeah, maybe. We talked about that. And on the fear of equality, she mentioned that some male artists who are her clients often don’t want to surpass their parents’ income, because the parents are working so hard, whereas making art is easy for the artist, so it doesn’t seem right for the artist to make more money doing art as opposed to the hard work that the parents do.
So that’s another example of the fear of equality. It’s what’s happening anytime you’re artificially holding down your speed because it feels uncomfortable to “pass” someone else along the way.
Summary of The Five Fears
So this brings to a close our discussion of the Five Fears that are really at work and keeping you stuck and preventing you from making your mark in business, and making the money you want to make.
Now let’s recap quickly.
- There is the Fear of Desire. You’d be happy to have more money, if someone handed it to you. And you’re happy to help people. You just have a hard time connecting those two things, because then people will know you want money in exchange for helping people.
- There’s the Fear of Autonomy. With this fear, your brain is disengaged from your business based on the idea that if you’re thinking about your business instead of your babies, or some other stakeholder in your life, you’re harming them in some way.
- There’s the Fear of Visibility, which has you hiding and playing small until you look more “acceptable.” This one is huge. If we just kicked this one fear to the curb, we might save the world, because so many experts are hiding at home until they “look” acceptable enough to come out and play on the field of commerce with the rest of the entrepreneurs.
- There’s the Fear of Confrontation. With this fear, you don’t share what you know, and you don’t say the things that need to be said to help those whom you serve, and possibly even save your corner of the world, because you’re afraid if you openly express your expertise, someone might come at you. Someone might confront you.
- And last but not least, there’s the Fear of Equality, in which you artificially slow your speed of growth because you don’t want to surpass someone else in your life. Often this fear is evidenced by an ongoing personal mantra of, “So-and-So comes first, and my income comes second.”
Collectively, these fears form the blameworthy pathogens that lead to the disease that of underearning for entrepreneurs.
These, my friends, are the real reasons we feel so stuck and scared about getting clients and doing the other things we need to do to really move the needle. They’re the reasons that those of us who are rock stars at what we do make less. Not fear of success. Not fear of failure. We’re not afraid of those things. What we’re really afraid of is violating the rules that have been handed to us that cause these fears, and that are preventing us from getting in the game and winning the game.
So now the question is, what do you do about them?
What to do about the fears that are shutting you down?
The prevailing wisdom is: NOTHING. This is why we get advice from all sides to, “Just plow on ahead, no matter how afraid we feel in commerce.“ “Just get comfortable being uncomfortable.” “Plan on failing a lot.” “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.” “Just put it out there, no matter how scared you feel, and see what happens.” “Success is found outside your comfort zone.” “Discomfort is the currency of your dreams.”
This is not what I teach my clients. If it works for you, great. Go forth and prosper. But imagine you want to climb Mt. Everest. You hire a coach to help you, and the best they can offer you is, “You’re scared? Who cares? Get climbing. GO!”
Not super helpful, is it? In many cases, it can even be dangerous. What would a good coach actually do? In my mind, they would help you DEVELOP YOUR SKILL so you are NO LONGER AFRAID.
Makes perfect sense, right? The solution is just the same in business. It isn’t to disregard your fear. Fear gives off a smell, and it’s not one that attracts anyone. And often, when you’re feeling fearful, there’s a good reason. You know something is wrong, and you should clean it up before you just plow on ahead. So they key isn’t to pretend that fear isn’t there. The solution is to dissolve it, and the way you dissolve fear is with SKILL.
This is why I teach my clients the seven skills that will take your income to seven figures and beyond. The seven skills will make you feel powerful and capable, because when you acquire and apply these skills in your business, you are powerful and capable. They dissolve the fears that are keeping you stuck on the sidelines. They put you in the game. And you don’t just PLAY the game when you have these seven skills. You WIN the game.
Want to know what they are? Join me for the next episode and I’ll tell you, and thank you so much for being here today.