How I let fear stop driving the bus

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One of my biggest frustrations is not knowing what I don’t know. It has kept me from taking risks because, well, I might not get it right the first time.

What if I fail? This thought terrified me for too long.

It turns out that this vague fear of failure is based on my protective childhood upbringing, and realistically doesn’t make sense.

Have you ever been afraid to follow your dreams because you might fail?

If so, you’re not alone!

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Maybe you always dreamed of owning your own restaurant, but played it safe and became an accountant instead because you’re good with numbers. Or perhaps you’re settling for an empty relationship because it seems safer to stay than being alone.

I became a life coach to help superwomen let go of feeling like they have take care of everyone else, let go of the overwhelm and begin living with more peace. I went to back to school, became certified and started my own business. I always had the support of my husband and kids. Yet I hesitated.

So why did I end up frustrated and afraid?

Because I listened to the voice of fear. The what-ifs. Making mistakes. Not knowing everything.

You see, I grew up in a home where my family loved me and wanted me to be safe, successful and happy. They meant well. I know that without a doubt. But starting a business means taking risks.

So why did I let their well-meaning concerns make me hesitate to believe in my abilities?

Worrying is big in my family. It’s one of the ways they show their love. As the thinking goes, when you love someone, you worry about them.

People don’t make it in their own businesses, they said. Corporate jobs are safer, they said.

But, here’s the thing I’m realizing for the very first time, as I type this blog. Both of my grandfathers immigrated to America, leaving their families and their lives, to pursue a dream for a better life. They spoke little or no English. Yet, both started up businesses that supported their families. They took risks.

One owned a shoe and hat repair shop in downtown Manhattan. This store made it possible to provide for four daughters. Rich? Maybe not. But well loved and cared for, with plenty of food on the table.

My other grandfather owned a corner grocery store in Passaic, New Jersey. He supported his family until he passed away as a young father. Back then, women rarely held jobs outside the home. My widowed grandmother bravely went to work for her brother, a successful furrier who dressed many wealthy socialites. His generosity to my father’s family was possible because of the business that he built.

I’m actually shaking my head as I type this. How did I not realize that, in fact, my family who came here from Greece brought their strong, successful entrepreneurial spirit with them. With enough ambition and the willingness to take a risk on your dream, it’s possible to be successfully self-employed!

About half of all businesses fail within five years. Which also means that about half of all small businesses survive for five years or more, according to the Small Business Administration.

It’s a case of the glass being half-empty or half-full.

Do you see taking a chance as a risk or an exciting opportunity?

There are no guarantees in life. However, one true thing is that if you don’t try, you’ll never know whether you can or you can’t.

Give it your best shot and go for it!

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How will you know if it’s the right decision if you never make it?

Change and risk can be scary. Yet living life without passion and fulfillment is scarier.

To make your dream a reality, put together the resources and team to support you. Ask yourself what you want your life to look like. It could be as simple as creating a new resume, or it may mean going back to school. Maybe it means working on your relationship. 

Whatever you need, create the strategy and get the coaching or guidance you need to push beyond your comfort zone.

The turning point for me was when my coach helped me realize that I allowed my well-meaning relatives to drive the bus for too long. I thanked those little gremlin voices for keeping me safe until I was ready to get out of my comfort zone. I know that they support me while they sit (usually) quietly strapped in the back seat.

Life is too short to spend worrying about the what-ifs. If you never try to do what you love, is that success? If you settle for being something less, something that you don’t feel passionate about, is that success?

If you’d like to learn more about how coaching can help you to let go of fear so that you can stop dreaming and start doing, contact me today to set up a time to chat!

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Denise Fountain is a Life Transformation Coach and Certified Professional Coach. She works with women going through transitions to rediscover themselves and create lives that are happy, healthy and whole again. Together with her clients, she explores the connection between stress, health and happiness, and guides her clients to move forward to make lasting and sustainable changes.

Denise is passionate about helping women live their best lives. Denise provides coaching for clients living anywhere by phone or Skype, and is available for speaking engagements and workshops. Sign up for updates. Contact her at to learn more about how Denise can partner with you to create the life you dream of.