Last week, my CorporateCulturology blog topic was “Do you know your own WORTH?” In my post, I listed self-evaluating questions recommended by Napoleon Hill in his inspirational book Think and Grow Rich, based on Hill’s interviews of Andrew Carnegie and over 500 masterminds of his generation. One question begs further discussion: Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears to decrease my efficiency?
Fears you ask? We all have fears that affect or control us. According to Napoleon Hill and his mentors, the six basic fears that may control us are:
- The Fear of Poverty
- The Fear of Criticism
- The Fear of Ill Health
- The Fear of Old Age
- The Fear of Death
- The Fear of the Loss of Love
Uncovering which of these fears (may) affect you can free you. There are of course more fears than those above, but most others are considered minor compared to these life altering and controlling fears.
The biggest thing to know about fear is FEAR is simply a state of mind. Fear is the conscious mind trying to pull you back into your comfort zone. However, everyone knows you don’t learn or grow until you step out of your comfort zone. Fear often manifests itself as negative self talk. And negative begets negative.
One of the most important things you can do in your life is to learn how to control and overcome your fears and eliminate the negative talk. The best way to reverse negative self talk is to write down the negative beliefs, consider them from a practical view, assign it ‘logical’ or ‘illogical’ status, and dismiss it. Many people call this creating a CRAP board. Write down that crap and forget it! But hang onto your list so you’re mind doesn’t forget about it or forget that it is CRAP. As Bridget Jones, while donning genuinely tiny knickers and sneakers in the snow, famously reminds us, “Everybody knows diaries are just full of crap.” See there? Another Bridget Jones Diary reference! (PS. See my “This holiday season, don’t be Bridget Jones!” blog post.)
“Nature has endowed man with absolute control over but one thing, and that is thought.” Napoleon Hill
Fear of Poverty
The fear of poverty destroys initiative. It undermines your progress, promoting procrastination and allowing self-doubt and negative self talk to cloud your thoughts with clutter eliminating the focus which is required for success. It is the most destructive fear. Napoleon Hill shared the following symptoms of the fear of poverty;
- Indifference or the lack of ambition and self-control is a willingness to tolerate poverty.
- Indecision is a lack of discipline, imagination and focus.
- Procrastination, related to indecision, is a refusal to accept responsibility to ACT and shows willingness to compromise.
- Doubt shows up as excuses used to explain away our failures. (Fear of failure is really a fear of poverty at the core.)
- Worry manifests as a tendency to spend beyond one’s income, neglect one’s appearance, alcohol or drug abuse, and lack of poise.
Fear of Criticism
The fear of criticism steals your initiative, erodes your power of imagination, and damages your self-reliance. Fear of criticism may have roots in early childhood by parents criticizing children. (Parenting tip – don’t criticize or make what could be self-fulfilling prophecies! Keep on the Sunny Side!) Criticism creates fear or resentment but rarely love. But fear of criticism, due to our basic human need of wanting to belong, is a primal human characteristic. We are tribal, after all. Symptoms include;
- Self-consciousness expressed as low self-esteem or nervousness.
- Lack of poise and indecision.
- Inferiority complex acted out by showing off, putting others down, or bragging.
- Extravagance or trying to buy acceptance.
- No initiative or a failure to embrace opportunities.
- Laziness or lack of ambition and scapegoating blame.
Fear of Ill Health, Old Age, and DEATH
Fear of ill health, fear of old age and fear of death are all related. At the core is the fear of losing one’s independence, both physical and economic freedom. Symptoms are when people say they need to slow down because of their age. Using excuses of being old kills initiative, imagination and self-reliance. And, you know this is CRAP! You’ve seen the memes countless times now. Colonel Sanders created Kentucky Fried Chicken at 65, Ray Kroc started McDonalds at 52, and Mary Kay Ash built Mary Kay at 45. Be bullish! Age gives the gift of experience! (I’m not just saying this because there is an AARP card with my name on it coming soon!)
The Fear of the Loss of Love
The fear of the loss of love creates jealousy, fault-finding, risk-taking or gambling, nervousness, weak self-control, or a lack of self-reliance. Napoleon Hill theorizes this is as old as cave man days when men competed for mates. I propose this fear may be partially responsible for fewer women in leadership roles. The fear of the loss of love manifested as a desire by women to be liked and not rock the boat – something often required in leadership roles. (Hmm, maybe there is a study on this out there!? If you know it, share it!)
Regardless of the flavor of fear, all create destructive thinking. All break down focus, motivation and ambition. All result in crippling inaction. However, one weakness trumps all these fears, “Without doubt, the most common weakness of all human beings is the habit of leaving their minds open to the negative influence of other people.”
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