We all know them. Fear Gremlins: those pesky doubts that run through your mind like little green men.
They often show up when life is at its best, when for example, sudden wealth arrives through stock options, an IPO or a business sale.
Often my clients are business leaders who have planned for success by working hard, and when they are hit with the reality of dreams coming true quickly without time to process the change, they sometimes encounter these insidious creatures.
Change, even the good kind, can disrupt us, and this can be scary. Many times Fear Gremlins wear disguises called assumptions, false interpretations, and regret to hide their true identity.
And while a certain amount uncertainty during times of joyful change is to be expected, chronic doubt can become a big problem, undermining your life by chipping away at happiness and turning you into a person you don’t want to become.
Fear can sound like, “you don’t deserve this success,” “you aren’t working hard enough,” and “what if this all goes away?”
Four years ago, I started a new chapter in the quest to evolve my personal and professional life. I wanted to create a life more congruent with my gifting and purpose, and to do that has required faith in something, or someone, greater than myself. I call it God, but you may describe it differently.
For the part of the journey within my discretion, I needed to get a clearer understanding of who I was, where my passion and calling resided, and then focus on bringing my unique contribution to the world.
The ripple effects of this introspection naturally flowed into my business outcomes, and led me to realize the sense of purpose I felt when working with my wealth management clients on some of their life questions and deeper concerns.
I’ve gone on to gain additional executive coaching skills around life purpose and have found joy in providing this service every single day.
Going from frustration and uncertainty to complete clarity in a relatively short period of time has been like a recent turbulent Alaska Airlines flight I was on that descended into a dense fog.
Just when I was hoping the pilot had some solid instruments beyond his own vision to get us to the tarmac, the fog and clouds parted and I could see the Seattle skyline and the surrounding water and trees taking shape and felt much more calm.
During my faith journey, I knew there was a greater purpose to my life but I couldn’t yet see it.
Yet when the landing strip came into view, clear and crisp, I started feeling fear and worry instead of calm.
What would barreling toward this desired outcome of increasing my coaching skills actually mean?
What if I failed?
I started to notice those Fear Gremlins, clinging onto the wing of the aircraft, popping up out of the overhead storage bins.
While talking with my business coach about this phenomenon, I wondered why it was so hard for me to enjoy clarity and success without fear, and accept the positive outcomes that have blessed my life?
If I shot a birdie on the first hole, a little green guy would whisper, “it’s only downhill from here.”
Why in fact, do we feel more secure when we are chasing our goals, matching up the pieces in pursuit of the picture, than we do when we achieve them?
I’ve counseled many business leaders who have come into sudden wealth and face big life transitions who suddenly find Fear Gremlins parading around the house with abandon.
I believe there are a couple of reasons why business leaders let the Fear Gremlins in:
The Problem: Connecting success with worthiness.
Achievement can feed a constant need for external approval and can become an addiction like any other coping behavior; a requirement to feeling good about yourself. You become only as good as your last victory or success.
The Solution: Recognize the source of approval and worthiness must come from inside yourself and from your spiritual core.
Disconnect performance (good or bad) from who you are, and look at the world through the lens of abundance instead of scarcity.
The Problem: More to lose and farther to fall.
I believed I didn’t have much to lose or as far to fall when I was pursuing my dreams. Once I achieved them, or receive clarity of direction, I had plenty to lose and a long way to fall. In a weird way, striving is much safer than succeeding. The proverb “be careful what you wish for because it might come true” applies. The fear of losing all that you’ve achieved is very real, particularly if you started with little or nothing to lose.
The Solution: Have faith that you are right where you are supposed to be regardless of the circumstances.
Enjoy the moments of life through a focus on gratitude instead of fear and worry. Unfortunately, if left unattended, Fear Gremlins can smash the joy out of any new opportunity or exciting moment, amplifying the fear of the unknown and controlling, self-sufficiency behaviors.
Like a good babysitter, listen to the Gremlins’ desire to stay up past bedtime, be curious about the story they are telling, then send those pesky critters straight to bed.
Let me know how you handle Fear Gremlins.
I’d love to hear from you.
A Guide to Maximizing Your Return on Life and Money
The Wealth Creator’s Playbook is the must-read, go-to guide for individuals who are chasing financial success and all the richness of a deeply fulfilling life.