What’s The Great Confidence Killer? FEAR!

By Nancy Fredericks


Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.thrivewithnancy.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

My Thrive@Work MasterMind community launched last week. The women who joined are extraordinary. All have successful careers. They have a heart committed to personal development and growth.

They collectively focus on eliminating every stumbling block standing between them and their dreams. Our rich, candid conversations began the process of generating personal shifts and “Aha’s.”

Our MasterMind conversations sparked ideas in my mind as well.  

Despite all the achievements and triumphs these women experience, in our in-depth, truth-filled revelation discussion, the longing for confidence emerges.

At its roots, lack of confidence is a connection to fear.

No question about it. Organizations expect far more from future leaders than ever before. Executives need and want to stretch and expand. Establishing confidence in your ability to triumph against all the chaos charging your way is an inside-out affair.

It is at this level of your being where your authentic leadership power emerges. Trust and belief in self have you fully embracing and fully realizing self. Such a foundation leaves you secure, standing powerful, and resilient no matter what you face.

Please don’t allow fear to tell you you’re not enough. 

Many of us attempt to fill our insecurity gap with more education, trying harder or working longer hours to prove to the company we are a high-potential executive with a big future in front of us. 

You do not lack anything!!

The sinking feeling you have that you need to be more. Answers the question about why you see executives who appear to have everything it takes—knowledge, skills, tenure—to be successful. Yet, they aren’t.  Somehow, even with an arsenal of assets, they remain stuck, and their careers stagnate. Why? Because they don’t understand that “who you are” is far more critical to your future than merely the execution of tangible skills and abilities. Fully incorporating these less-tangible attributes (confidence) leads to success.

Before saying “yes” to any expansion of self, examine the motivation. Suppose the decision emanates from the urge to convince others of your worth. The answer is NO that comes from insecurity and fear don’t move forward. However, if you’re choosing these pursuits because you are electing to prepare, YES, move forward. It’s coming from a position of security and confidence.

You see where your drive comes from is essential to the outcomes you attain. When you’re interested in developing and growing out of a desire to expand your knowledge-base—you’re a growth-minded executive. Any other motivation is building on a false foundation.

Carol Dweck writes about this in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,  
As you become a more growth-minded person, you’re amazed at how people start to help you, support you. They no longer seem like adversaries out to deny you what you deserve. They’re more and more often collaborators toward a common goal. [i]

Allowing a lack of confidence or insufficiency or fear to permeate your reality is the death of anything fresh or grand. One never conquers any significantly new territory without moving through the fear into the experience.  

A grand life and career are never about building the same sandcastle over and over again because you’re the best sandcastle builder in the sandbox. That will not lead to growth and progress. Staying small in the sandbox…even if you are outstanding…will be the death of your dreams. Your mind may attempt to convince you that you are alive and well simply because you exist. Existence is not the same thing as being passionately, fully alive. A gratifying life and career require risk-taking and a willingness to battle against the fear of what holds you small.

Women’s pioneer and American author Gail Sheehy says it all, Fear immobilizes. Daring is action. It changes the condition. It startles people into different reactions. It’s a crapshoot, but it can be the catalyst to empowering oneself.” [ii]

The reality is career momentum always originates with you and then is accepted by others…. That is the foundation of confidence.


[i] Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, Random House LLC, Kindle Edition, Page 232.

[ii] Tavis Smiley PBS Program, Interview with Gail Sheehy, September 24, 2014.

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