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How to Recognize and Defeat the Top 5 Professional Fears

  • David Sanford Contributing Writer
  • Updated Sep 20, 2023
How to Recognize and Defeat the Top 5 Professional Fears

For more than 15 years, I have had the privilege of getting to know and working with some of the most interesting and successful people in the world. You may be an entertainer taking home $35,000 per hour. You may be a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. You may be a Wall Street corporate merger guru.

And, not surprisingly, most (not all) successful individuals initially assume they are the exception: “Fear? Who me? No way.” The truth is that all of us would do well to understand, quickly recognize, and know how to defeat the top personal and professional fears.

“No fear” isn’t just a motto for the adventurous. It’s a way of life. I know all this, yet the other day I got hit with 1 of the 5 professional fears and responded 180 degrees opposite of what I know to do in such situations.

I still believe “No fear” is a way of life, but it’s an imperfect way. Every time we give into fear, we need to humbly acknowledge it, remind ourselves what to do next time, and then move toward that “next time” as quickly as possible.

It begins with a biblical understanding of who God is and what He has to say about fear. It’s clear: He hates cowardice, but He also despises bravado. Let’s look at the top 5 professional fears:

1. The Fear of Silence

This fear is seen in our obsession with all things digital. Ironically, without silence, we can’t truly know ourselves, let alone tap into our amazing gifts of intuition, deduction, creativity, and more.

The fastest test? Ask a room full of people to put away all things electronic and all reading materials. Then have them stop all conversations and stop looking around. Then ask them to simply remain silent for 5 minutes.

Often, you will discover that waiting out those 5 minutes can be excruciating. Test yourself over and over until you can do it. Then move to 10 minutes. Then to 15 minutes.

If you master this in front of a room full of people, you’ll be well on your way to mastering it when you’re alone. In time, your natural gifts of intuition, deduction, and creativity will begin to take flight. Enjoy!

2. The Fear of Sharing

This fear walks us all the way back to grade school. In kindergarten, we freely and sometimes enthusiastically shared our artwork with the teacher, our classmates, and our family. By third or fourth grade, however, we lock in on the fact that our sharing isn’t always received the way we expected.

That’s okay when you’re a kid. Now, blink twice. You’re back in the real world. Don’t give into irrational fears (“a friend may steal my idea if I told her,” “a colleague might think it’s stupid”). The biggest and best ideas thrive in an atmosphere of camaraderie.

3. The Fear of Selling

This fear is seen in our reluctance to invite others to teach, mentor, assist, encourage, strengthen, and open doors for us.

I highly recommend Leaders Open Doors by Bill Treasurer. Without ever using the word “sell” or “selling” or “sales” or any version, Bill Treasurer takes his in-depth research, shows how it’s applied in his own life, and then invites you to do the same.

4. The Twin Fears of Rejection and Failure

These fears are well-known and covered extensively in other great Crosswalk articles here and here, so I’ll keep moving...

5. The Fear of Success

When I bring up this fear, people laugh almost every time. Yes, it sounds completely backward. Then again, that’s what fear does most of the time: It causes us to fight, flee, or freeze up. So, tell the truth: Do we want to be successful? If so, great! If not, what are our other options? I’ll take success any day. I hope you will too! 

So What Is God Calling Us to Do about Fear?

God wants us to live unchained by the fears that steal our hope and faith. Here are three biblical directives, backed up by the Scriptures, to conquer your fears and thrive:

1. Fear the Lord Alone.

The Bible instructs us to fear the Lord, which is the beginning of true wisdom (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 15:33, and Ecclesiastes 12:13).

As Christians, we’re encouraged to fear the Lord and do what He says (Genesis 22:12, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 10:20, Psalm 122:1, Ecclesiastes 12:13, and Philippians 2:12).

2. Keep Trusting the Lord. Don’t Fear Anyone or Anything Else.

As Christians, we are to trust the Lord continually without wavering or doubting (1 Kings 18:21, Psalm 17:5, Psalm 26:1, Matthew 21:21, Mark 9:24, Romans 4:20-22, Hebrews 10:23, and Jude 1:21).

We trust the Lord by continually doing what is good and right (Genesis 22:1, Psalm 106:31, 2 Corinthians 1:24, Galatians 5:6, Philippians 1:25, Colossians 2:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and James 2:14).

We trust the Lord so that we do not fear what others might to do (Joshua 5:1, 2 Chronicles 20:15, Nehemiah 4:14, Psalm 118:6, Isaiah 8:13, Isaiah 40:9-11, Isaiah 41:10, and Matthew 10:28).

And we trust the Lord no matter what is happening (Romans 5:3, 2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 2 Timothy 2:3, Hebrews 10:35-36, James 1:3, James 5:11, 1 Peter 1:5-7, 1 Peter 5:8-11, and Revelation 2:10).

3. Take Courage in the Lord and Encourage Others.

Take courage in the Lord again today (Joshua 1:9, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Psalm 27:14, Haggai 2:4, John 16:33, and 1 John 5:5).

Encourage others to continue trusting the Lord (Numbers 14:6-9, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, 1 Corinthians 16:13, and 1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Why not print and post this article to remind you to trust when you’re tempted to fear? Review it often. Remember you’ll give in to your fears from time to time. That’s okay. Just promise yourself that you’ll always get right back to doing what the Lord has called you to do.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Deagreez