Fear is personal.
Fear can upend success; hold us back, stop us dead in our tracks. Prevent us from moving forward. We know this. But what makes us tick (or explode) is different for each one. What we fear, exactly, is personal (and revealing!). There are Five Kinds of Fear that speak to our would-be, should-be successes in life.
For instance, only some of us fear failure, finding it positively paralyzing; while others easily embrace failure as a means of growth. Some people assume everyone is insecure, refusing to put stock in the confidence others exude. Some people have nightmares about dying in obscurity, with no one knowing their name, leaving no legacy behind—while their counterparts couldn’t care less and value privacy to the point of obsession. What’s going on? Don’t we all fear the same things? Dream the same dreams? Answer: no, we don’t.
There are 5 Kinds of Fear that threaten us, vocationally:
- fear of failing (a bad grade or report: ouch!)
- insecurity (a bad opinion rendered: ahhh!)
- obscurity (no credit given: oh.)
- inadequacy (didn’t have what it takes: sorry!!)
- and being ignored or overlooked (invisible, inaudible: sigh.)
These are all real fears, but they’re not real for everyone.
Each of us has only ONE KIND OF FEAR that makes us truly shake; the other four we can handle. Only one hits us where we live, causing us to buckle and have to buck up. This is because we don’t all value the same thing: we don’t hold the same dream-goals, hopes and desires. What we value speaks to what we fear: so, what we fear should speak to what we value… and is an excellent indicator of where we need to press in, and PUSH past the fear of X.
FEAR #1. The teacher- or Scholar-types among us fear FAILING, more than the rest of us do. They hate being wrong! A failing grade/report/finding of any kind makes their skin crawl. They can’t stand it. It really is an existential crisis for them because… being found trustworthy, accurate, able to build solid foundations of knowledge in the world is their purpose, dream and driving force. Failure hits them harder than others. If you’ve ever tried to correct a teacher-type, told them where they were… Wrong(!), then you know this to be true. Failure is the Top Fear of a Scholar. If they fail too many times at one thing, they may just quit!
FEAR #2. Social Connectors wrestle with feelings of INSECURITY; how others might be perceiving them is often in question, even doubt. Having the good opinion of others matters to them. This is because group approval is a sign of worth to the larger community. Social Connectors are called to build open, affirming communities; to foster belonging. They thrive as the multi-tasking, communicative hub of their circles. So if they feel insecure, like they might not belong or be needed, valued and cherished, it hits them where they live. To mask prolonged insecurity; they may put on a happy face or become a people-pleaser; they may even be masking feelings of despair or profound doubt about who they are and what they have to offer in their fear of self-expression, or insecurity.
FEAR #3. Change Agents fight to feel significant. They fear INSIGNIFICANCE or OBSCURITY; fading into the background, not making a difference of leaving a mark. They are willing to fail 1,000 times to get where they’re going; willing to make enemies in the process. They do not fear failure or feel insecure. Instead, they fear dying before they make their mark. They need to leave something of value behind, a legacy of note. This is because they think big and live large. They are risk takers, visionaries, pioneers and entrepreneurs. They are Change Agents, so they need to make an impact; and it needs to be tangible, measurable, concrete. These are not pie-in-the-sky dreamers, these are real-world movers and shakers. Obscurity, insignificance: these are their nemeses. When not publicly acknowledged for their efforts, Change Agents can feel useless, impotent, ineffective—and worse.
FEAR #4. Adventurers are skilled, personable and confident, but fear falling short; being found, in any way, INADEQUATE. They loathe the idea of not measuring up; not having what it takes to meet the challenge at hand. They are the people others call on in time of need. They have what it takes! So, they fear showing up and not having the right tool for the job; or being found unprepared, ill-equipped or unreliable. This is a real pain point for an Adventurer because they feel called to come alongside others facing challenges; to encourage them to reach for the summit; and be the ones to help them get there! If they don’t feel up to a job, it will hit them where they live; and may cause them to give up altogether.
FEAR #5. Finally, the Mystic types among us fear BEING IGNORED, overlooked, dismissed out of hand. This is because they are all about hearing God and giving voice to their gleanings, inspirations and contemplative insights. Not be heard, seen or received by others—to bridge heaven and earth—is their worst fear, vocationally speaking. They will shut down in the face of blithe unawareness or crude non-responsiveness.
FIVE FEARS; five types of people seeking to navigate the world in their own way—the way they were designed to navigate it. The Scholar, Social Connector, Change Agent, Adventurer and Mystic: each one fears something different; for a very good reason. The common denominator is that we all fear losing what matters to us. We want to protect it, grow it. Whether it’s personal or professional, we are called to guard our heart’s treasure. To face up to whatever may threaten it; undermine our success as good stewards. Fears are personal; but that doesn’t mean we don’t have in our person whatever it takes to face it; to give it a name and to challenge it head-on in the name of the One who made us to Succeed.