Napoleon Hill, in his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” addressed two fears that hold back many men and women: fear of poverty and fear of criticism. Both lead to fear of rejection and that haunts window fashions sales consultants.
FEAR OF POVERTY
Hill wrote, “The fear of poverty paralyzes the faculty of reason, destroys imagination, kills off self-reliance, discourages initiative, leads to uncertainty of purpose, encourages procrastination, wipes out enthusiasm, and makes self-control an impossibility. It takes the charm from one’s personality, destroys accurate thinking, diverts concentration, overcomes persistence, turns willpower to nothingness, destroys ambition, beclouds memory and invites failure in every conceivable form.”
That’s how powerful fear can be.
FEAR OF CRITICISM
The second universal fear is that of criticism, wrote Hill. The results are noticeable by negative traits:
• Self-consciousness—expressed through nervousness, timidity, awkward movement of hands and shifting of eyes.
• Lack of poise—limited voice control, poor posture, poor memory.
• Personality flaws—lack of charm, procrastination on decisions, inability to express opinions with confidence.
• Side-stepping issues instead of facing them squarely, agreeing with others without careful examination.
• Inferiority complex—self-righteous pronouncements, often expressed as appearance of superiority.
• Lack of initiative—failure to embrace opportunities for advancement, fear to express opinions, lack of confidence in one’s own ideas, hesitancy.
• Lack of ambition.
• Mental and physical laziness, lack of self-assertion, slowness in reaching decisions, being too easily influenced, habit of criticizing others, accepting defeat without protest, quitting when criticized by others, unwillingness to accept blame and accountability.
Conquer fear and you can overcome all these traits.
Courage is not the absence of fear. It is willingness to face fear. Fear is often more powerful as an intangible attitude than by actual dangers. For example, one person may fear being perceived as a coward, to the extent they will face genuine risk of death to protect family or country in time of need.
A decorator may fear losing status by passing out flyers or knocking on doors . . . or fear rejection making a telephone call even to the extent of going out of business rather than facing his or her fears to find customers.
No question, fear will defeat success unless you overcome it with conscious action. Here are 10 tips to help you on your way.
TEN TIPS TO OVERCOME FEAR
1. Be Proud of Yourself. You do not have to be perfect. Just strive to do your best. Count your blessings and give thanks to your creator for the wonderful talents and good fortune you have. People will respect your willingness to strive.
The more you meet people—customers, colleagues, role models and prospects—the more you will build confidence. Meet people every chance you can—especially people who can help you build your business.
2. Welcome Fear—It’s a Sign of Growth. Fear is your North Star for guidance. Fear tells you what you need to learn to be successful. The very thing you fear most is probably what needs to be done first.
When you face fear and overcome it, you generate confidence. Every fear you overcome is one rung higher on your ladder to success.
3. Admit Your Fear—Feel It, Get to Know It. The more you understand your fear the less it will control you. When you start to dial the phone and fear springs up, you will know it for what it is—a simple attitude of mind.
Your knowledge of it, your thoughts about it, will take command. “Nothing in life is to be feared,” said Madame Curie. “It is only to be understood.”
4. Be Willing to Risk. Failure is always a possibility, but fear of failure may be worse than failure itself. Failure is only a temporary setback to provide information about how to succeed.
If fear stops you, you stand still. If you’re still, you’re dead. Take a risk. If you want something different in the future from what you have had in the past, you must behave differently in the future than you behaved in the past. Just dive in. An icy pool is never as bad as the fear of thinking about it. Take the dive.
5. What If Your Fear Comes True? Ask yourself, What is the worst thing that can happen if my fears are correct? Will I lose my life? An arm? A leg? Will I lose my business, my home, my spouse, my children? If you will not lose something essential in life, why not take the risk to succeed?
6. Visualize the Benefits—Goals Defeat Fear. Visualize the reward—college savings, new home, dream vacation. Place a picture on your refrigerator. Then visualize the action you will take to overcome your fear.
Visualize yourself phoning past customers, distributing flyers
in a target neighborhood, controlling a sales presentation. If you
visualize what you want and how you will get it, your goal will
defeat your fear.
7. Confidence—The Opposite of Fear. Facing fear builds confidence when you succeed. Sure, you might fail, but if you don’t try you will never know. When you win you have even greater confidence to try again.
Replace fearful messages with positive messages. Athletes use this technique to shut down the internal voice of fear that hinders their performance. Sometimes they literally shout their fears away with “Just do it!” or “Go for it!”
8. Training, Preparation and Experience. There are three things that will give you confidence to overcome fear and build confidence: training, preparation and experience. Training can be from books, tapes, meetings and classes.
Don’t train on the things you like. Train the things you fear. If you fear bookkeeping, train on it. If you fear selling, start now to read good books on selling. Attend a sales class to learn better techniques. Professional selling is never arm-twisting and pressure, it is learning to ask the right questions and guide customers to decisions they really want. Sales training will build your confidence.
9. Preparation. Prepare yourself. You may lack training in product knowledge, decorating skill, sales skill, and business operation even after training. But if you prepare for an appointment by asking the right questions on the phone, reviewing your sample lines before you go and boning up on your selling technique, you will feel more confidence and less fear. You will know you have earned the right to close this sale.
10. Experience. Finally, there is only one true way to overcome fear: by doing. Only experience itself will ultimately give you confidence to chase your fears out the window.
Look around for the best designed window in your own home. Select that window to throw out your fears. Visualize them flying outside your mind, outside your home, to languish and die in loneliness. After every fearful experience, throw a bucket of fear out the window. Soon you will be the confident professional you always wanted to be.
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY
In closing, consider this helpful advice: Spend time with positive, courageous, risk-taking people. If you spend time around timid, fearful people, odds are you’re going to absorb their mind-set of timidity and fear. But if you associate with bold people, you’ll become a bolder person yourself.
Talk out your fears with successful friends. Fear loses its power to paralyze when you talk it through. A person who has achieved success can give you a reality check on your fears. Send me an e-mail about your fears, challenges and successes. I will share it with others and everyone will benefit.
Remember, conquering your fear is exhilarating! It’s an exciting experience to face your fear, attack it and conquer. What are you afraid of? Today is your day to master your fear. Feel the exhilaration and celebrate your victory.
This article is based on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience with sales and financial information working with hundreds of window coverings businesses. Whether you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage 50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million-dollar business, this series will help you manage sales better and increase your profitability. Bursten is the retired founder of Decorating Den Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, “Bootstrap Entrepreneur”, and is a leading expert in window coverings marketing, sales systems and sales management through his company, custEmers.com. Questions and comments welcome: email@example.com or call (888) 333-8981.