The Six Ghosts of Fear Article by: Jim Rohrbach
In his classic success book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill mentions six basic fears that you have to be vigilant about or you’ll get spooked. He refers to them as “ghosts” — appearing real, but actually imaginary. I’ll walk you through these six with quotes by Hill transcribed from a Nightingale-Conant audio program entitled The Science of Personal Achievement, then give my commentary:
1. The fear of poverty “Now, why anybody should be afraid of poverty in a great nation like this where opportunity abounds on every hand is more than I can understand, but I do know that the vast majority of my students have to be treated first for the fear of poverty. They have to be made success-conscious, and youâ€™ll never be successful at anything until you become success-conscious. You have to get over the idea of self-limitation.”
Commentary: Napoleon Hill published Think and Grow Rich in 1937 as a response to The Great Depression of the 1930′s. Millions of Americans went unemployed and people’s money worries were at an all-time high, far worse that the current economic downturn. Hill wanted to address the negative psychological impact of not having enough money, knowing the devastating effect this has on an individual. He encouraged people to develop a “success consciousness” — the practice of visualizing their wealth in their own mind before it actually arrived. Failure to do so leads to a “fear of poverty” — a paralyzing state of mind in which you repeatedly think, “I’ll never have enough money.” And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to a downward mental spiral.
Question: Do you have a success consciousness or a poverty consciousness?
2. The fear of criticism “You’re lucky indeed if youâ€™ve come this far in life, all of you or any of you, without having suffered from the fear of criticism, the fear of what ‘they’ will say. And I have heard so many people say, ‘Well, Iâ€™d do so-and-so if it werenâ€™t for what â€œtheyâ€ will say,’ and I have never yet found out who ‘they’ were. ‘They’ are entirely imaginary beings, but youâ€™d be surprised how powerful ‘they’ are. They stupefy enthusiasm. They cut down your personal initiative. They destroy your imagination. And they make it practically impossible for you to accomplish anything above mediocrity.”
Commentary: In my opinion this is the most common fear that can hold you back — the fear of how other people might judge you if you were to do what you wanted to do, like succeed wildly in your own business rather than becoming just another “average Joe.” These judgments often come from well-meaning family members and friends who want to protect you from trying something out of THEIR comfort zone. What’s interesting is that these same people have most likely never taken on anything challenging themselves — if they don’t think THEY can do it, they’ll want to discourage you.
Question: How has the fear of criticism from others held you back?
3. The fear of ill health “The doctors know too well what that fear does. It results in a condition known as hypochondria, imaginary illness.”
Commentary: Some people run to the doctor at the sign of the first sniffle, always acting as if they’re “coming down with something.” The let poor health be their alibi for underachieving — what they’re really suffering from is “excuse-itis.” In order to succeed you need to develop and maintain healthy habits in three areas: Diet, exercise and rest — no secret there, huh? Eating right, making time for regular exercise and getting a good night’s sleep are all essential for staying healthy. Those who don’t, or won’t, practice these fundamentals typically have a cycle of sickness that robs them of the vitality needed to conquer the challenges of business.
Question: Are you taking great care of yourself to have the strength and energy to give your best?
4. The fear of the loss of love “Jealousy doesnâ€™t require reason. It can be just as violent or just as destructive where there is no basis for it as where there is a basis, but it is a motivating force.”
Commentary: Certainly jealousy can be destructive to people if they are not secure in their relationships. I want to expand this definition about the fear of loss of love to the concern that one will lose the approval of loved ones if they are unsuccessful. Dwelling on negative approval-seeking consequences rather than creating both a positive mindset and a clear plan of making it in business will guarantee failure. This is similar to the fear of criticism in that you might be obsessing on how bad you’d feel if someone left you because you couldn’t make a go of it in your chosen field.
Question: Whose approval are you worried about losing?
5. The fear of old age “I donâ€™t know why men and women should be afraid that they’re gonna dry up and blow away when they get to that nice, ripe old age of 40 to 50. The real achievements of the world were the results of men and women who had gone well beyond the age of 50, and the greatest age of achievement was between 65 and 75, so I don’t know why one should be afraid of old age, but nevertheless they are.”
Commentary: How many people do you hear say, “I can’t believe I’m xx years old!” Translation: “Man, I’m getting up there! I might be past my prime. Time is running out for me. Where did it go?” I’m of the philosophy that age is just a number — as long as I’m learning, laughing and loving, I’m young. I keep a relaxed attitude about the coming years — I have all the time in the world to get better. My thought is I’ll be that much more experienced as time goes by. In this way, I’m convinced my best is yet to come.
Question: How old do you feel?
6. The fear of death “Itâ€™s the rarest thing in the world to find a person who hasnâ€™t at one time or another been afraid of dying.”
Commentary: I don’t spend much time thinking about death because I’m too busy living. I submit this fear is about the death of anything: The end of a business or bankruptcy, the end of a job stint or getting fired, the end of a relationship via break-up or divorce. Going through traumatic times like these won’t kill you but you may certainly have the panicky feeling that they will. In Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill states, “Every adversity, every heartache, every failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” Everyone who’s ever made it big has had these kinds of disappointments, losses and rejections, yet used them as motivation to prevail. So in the aforementioned “deaths” you have the opportunity to be “reborn” to even greater success, a new career, a solid relationship.
Question: What “death” do you fear?
I hope these words have helped you realize the six ghosts of fear aren’t all that spooky, and that you’re committed to becoming the successful person you were destined to become despite them. Act like it’s Halloween every day, and when one of these ghosts confront you, just say “BOO!”
Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. To arrange a Free Consultation with Jim, go to www.SuccessSkills.com.