What Does Your Fear Cost You? - Common Sense Living Newsletter
Common Sense Living India

What Does Your Fear Cost You?

May 14, 2014


There's an incredibly addictive smart phone game called QuizUp. You can play quizzes on any of hundreds of topics on their list...anything from Bollywood to Ancient Greece.

There are two ways to play:

You pick a topic and 'challenge' a friend on your list. You answer the questions first and then send them the challenge ... and QuizUp then tells you whether you won or lost.

Alternatively, one of your friends challenges you - and as you play you can see how well they are doing... and whether their score is higher or lower than yours.

I found myself playing it for hours last weekend and noticed a curious pattern in my game stats.

Most of my wins came from games where I challenged others. Where others challenged me I tended to lose more.

The topic didn't matter ...whether it was my strongest subject...or weakest ... the pattern held.

I decided to pay closer attention to what I was going through as I played the games...to figure out what skewed the statistics. And this is what I found...

When I played first - before sending the challenge out to someone else - I could only see my own scores. I had no one else to compete with at this point...just myself. No opponent was watching me play ... I was calm and answered with clarity of thought. Even in cases where I did not know the answer I ended up guessing right. I was in top form. And I kept winning.

When I played second, my opponent had already answered. I could see their scores as I played. I was nervous. I made bad guesses, sometimes answering wrong even when I knew the right answer. My thoughts kept turning to my opponent... waiting to find out if they had beaten me, waiting to judge me.

When you're afraid of being judged, you can't be your best.

We all have naysayers in our lives - people who nod when we fail and say 'I knew he would not be able to do it'. These people can have more impact than we realize.

You may think you don't care what others think of you. But the nagging voices of judgers and the potential bruising of egos have a way of sneaking into your decision-making.

Ask yourself where you are faltering in your life... Are you inhibited by fear of what others might think? What have you been afraid to fail at for fear of losing face? And instead have lost so much more.

As I pondered these questions, a recent example came to me:

The fear of starting a business I cared about.

I had wanted to bring a great new brand of kids' shoes to India. I devised a business plan, interviewed mothers about their children's shoe needs, examined the market, and identified my suppliers.

And then abandoned the whole project.

I told myself I had lost interest...as it turns out, I had lost courage.

Wealth coach Mark Ford says that 'sometimes people take themselves all the way to the 20-yard line of some goal and then stop there, paralyzed by fear'

Fear is an obstacle to success. To overcome fear, you need determination and action.

You must identify where fear inhibits you from realizing your dreams. Is there a business idea in your head, waiting to materialize? Have you been considering joining a gym/writing a book/climbing Mt. Everest/___________ (insert your dream here)?

Then take action, build momentum, and break down the barriers that fear builds.

Here are four ways to ensure effective action, and not lapse into a state of indecisive inaction:

  1. Evaluate your decisions as you face them. For each, outline a course of action - with time frames - that you put down on paper... When you have a limited number of specific decisions and tasks your project will become more manageable.

  2. Set small goals. Each victory builds momentum, instills confidence, and keeps you going.

  3. Enlist the guidance of an advisor, mentor, or even just a confidante. Every time you feel your spirits flagging or plan faltering, make sure you have someone who keeps you motivated and on track.

  4. Prepare. If you don't prepare, you are setting yourself up for failure. The more prepared you are the less fear gets in the way. If you want to lose weight, create a nutrition plan, research it, stock your house with healthy foods, throw out tempting foods, etc. Make sure you know everything that can go wrong and prepare for it.
This is the most important step in overcoming fear. If you are prepared and you know what you're doing, no amount of uncle/aunty/accountant disapproval can get you off track.

This time, as I start my business, I am better prepared. Mark Ford's advice for entrepreneurs is my preparation tool of choice. Mark has started tens of multi-million dollar businesses, and failed several times along the way. His teachings are practical and accurate, and that's what will help me succeed.

Giving in to fear... or embarrassment...or the worry of what others will think ... is too costly. I have lost enough time already.

As Mark says, 'The cost of failure, is very modest, compared with the cost of inaction. Failure means you are smarter the next time. Inaction means there is no next time'

How do you overcome your fear when trying something new? Please write in to us with your ideas to help readers move along toward our goals.


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6 Responses to "What Does Your Fear Cost You?"

Nirmil Shah

03 Jul, 2015

Dear all I was running a manufacturing unit for plastics. A few years ago i was faced with a decision to either upgrade my existing machine one component at a time which would have required small investments or go for a brand new machine requiring a larger investment . My fear of being unable to repay the loans made me choose the former option. Alongwith time overruns in getting the components , commissioning them sorting out quality issues resulted in a higher cost of production whereas competitors with new machines were able to enter the market quickly with reduced costs. Ultimately i had to shut down my unit. Moral being fear of being unable to repay a bigger loan lead me to lose a business in which i had invested 18 years of my life.

Like (1)


16 Jun, 2015

Dear sir, it gives great courage me. now i am success in my profession. every article is very excellent .you very great intellectual person


31 May, 2014

So true. Many of us have ideas, but it never materializes or even reach the drawing board. As you have rightly mentioned, having a mentor or some one to support you, give you those words of encouragement is very important. The clarity of thinking here in WBC is phenomenal. Its so simple, and most of the advise given, like the one in this article can be applied immediately. In my case, one example i remember is preparing for exams during my engineering semesters, the fear of failure made me go nuts, and that's where the guidance and calming words of my parents made the difference.Every one needs a shoulder to fall on, especially when the going gets tough. Ultimately, i have realized that all said and done, its up to you to become the person you want to be! Learning lots of valuable lessons here, cheers for that!

Jose Paul Martin

30 May, 2014

Anisa, really great article! I think people should stop associating failure with "end of world" - it isn't. It's merely a test, treat it like a set back and you can move forward. This stigma of failure has to be removed from our minds... education definitely is a start.


29 May, 2014

So true Pravin! And we're really glad to have you on board - I just know that getting access to Mark's mentorship, and having each other's support, is going to lead to a great experience for all of us.


28 May, 2014

Rightly said - fear of failure is a significant hurdle. The inaction that comes out of it is the biggest bane. An example I can quote has to do with the UPA2 govt. Several large development projects and policies were put on cold storage due to the fear that it could lead to potential corruption charges. If only they had gone ahead and acted on them on time, the results of this election would have been different. Often times, I have found, what one needs to surmount fear, is the advise and support of someone who has gone through similar experiences previously. Talking to a mentor can really give you the confidence needed to take the plunge. I have had such experiences at my work place. On wealth building, that mentorship and experience-sharing is exactly what I am expecting from Mark and the team at Common Sense Living.


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