In John C. Maxwell’s legendary book, Failing Forward, the world’s #1 leadership coach shares a concept he calls “The Fear Cycle”.
It describes what typically happens to someone who is unable to overcome their fear of failure and gets caught in the cycle of fear.
It is a circle of events that continuously repeat themselves in this order: 1) Fear 2) Inaction 3) Inexperience 4) Inability; Once you get to the fourth link in the cycle, you go back to beginning (fear), and it gets worse each time.
This may sound a bit scientific and confusing, so let me explain.
Something happens, such as you experience a bad failure. Maybe you are shut down by the girl of your dreams. You thought for sure she would say yes to your date offer, but when you ask her out, she rejects you and does it carelessly. This incident is going to cause fear to strike whenever you are put in similar situation later on in life.
As all men realize, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but the fact that you experienced a bad failure that really struck your emotions, is going to stop you from trying to ask many future interests out on a date. You don’t want to be rejected.
That fear of rejection causes inaction.
And because you don’t act, you miss out crucial experience that would have helped you overcome future obstacles in the dating world.
The lack of experience breeds an inability to handle these types of situations with women, which ultimately causes your fear to increase; more and more as long as you don’t break the cycle.
Something like this can take a deadly toll on your attitude, and it will cause you to be stuck in rut. This cycle applies to all walks of life and it is something you definitely want to be aware of so you can recognize if you are in this cycle.
If you find yourself going through these 4 milestones and really feeling uncomfortable, unhappy, and scared about it, this means you have a fear that has not been conquered.
You definitely do not want too many unconquered fears. When you fear something so much that you cannot act, and do what you need to do, you are experiencing an unconquered fear and need to understand the consequences.
Here are 3 deadly outcomes of not conquering your fears and breaking out of the fear cycle:
John Maxwell describes this as “when you are satisfied because you made it through the day without screwing up”.
You are scared to fail so you allow yourself to be satisfied with keeping things from falling apart, even if it means not moving forward at all. This leads to boredom and you have no sense of purpose because you are so afraid to fail.
Everybody in this world is in deep search of a purpose; a reason for living. We want something to strive for and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We want this thing to be bigger than ourselves.
Striving for a purpose that is bigger than yourself and achieving the goals that fulfill that purpose takes a lot of action; a lot of bold action.
Not conquering the toxic fears that inhibit you is going to eventually lead you to a life of caution and a life that is stagnant. You will be so afraid to fail and be afraid of these fears that are living in your head, that you will not be able to move forward and take the necessary risks to start working towards your dreams.
That’s what we all need in our lives.
Something to always be working towards and a reason to get up in the morning.
Too much fear causes lack of purpose. And lack of purpose causes boredom, hopelessness, and even depression.
Identify these toxic fears before they get too ingrained in your mind, and tackle them so they don’t stall your progress and take away your sense of purpose in life. (Here’s a 5-Step Process for Overcoming Your Fears)
When you live within your fears, you will always be putting off the things that you know you need to do to succeed.
For example, back to the dating example above, you may be scared to death to ask another girl out after that first incident where you were horribly rejected. You probably tell yourself that you will “get back into it” eventually; you’re just not ready. You need more time.
What you are doing here is procrastinating and we all do it. But it’s a deadly outcome of living within The Fear Cycle. It falls into the ‘inaction’ stage and is cheating you from gaining necessary experience.
Procrastination only gets to your head if you let it drag on. Which most people do. The longer you put something off, the harder it will be to actually act and act confidently when you do try to break out of this rut.
“Procrastination is the fertilizer that makes difficulties grow”
It is very dangerous to fear something so much that you are paralyzed by it. You literally cannot do anything to move forward because the fear is so great and you are so scared to fail.
Someone in this situation stops trying to do anything that might lead to failure. The problem with that is, this means they are stopping themselves from doing anything that might lead to success.
This is a deadly outcome of letting fears get to your head too much, and living within the Fear Cycle.
People whose fear paralyzes them give up any hope of growing or moving forward.
Feel the fear and do it anyways.
The motivation to overcome a fear and get what you truly want is not just going to come to you. The whole idea of finding motivation is a trap. Just do it.
Don’t look for any outside forms of motivation. Just do something, without the motivation to do it. Once you start doing that thing, that is when some motivation will start to inhibit you.
You must get yourself actively engaged in doing something and then the motivation to keep working hard will start to grow inside of you.
Don’t wait for the feeling of motivation to come to you before you start acting. It doesn’t work like that. Start acting, and then you will start feeling the motivation.
Start doing, and you will start to break out of the Fear Cycle.
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