What Would People Say?

“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.”
– Mark Twain

Where does our fear come from?

A fair amount of it – perhaps most of it – seems to be generated by our own anticipation of what others would think about us.

We don’t want to let our parents down. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves. We don’t want to alienate ourselves from our peers.

It will never be good enough. My family will disown me. My friends will look at me funny. I’ll be the butt of jokes.

How often have we deprived ourselves of learning, silliness, commitment, adventure, success because of our fear of people’s reactions?

For me, it was one of the most potent – and paralyzing – beliefs that choked so many years of my life. The fact of the matter is I was afraid of most everything. I hid it pretty well, but I was petrified. I was petrified of public speaking. I was afraid to write. I went to class short of breath and full of anxiety. I convinced myself I couldn’t play music. I didn’t get as nearly good grades in school as I could have. I didn’t have nearly as many experiences as I could have. I didn’t do a fraction of the things that were occupying my thoughts and dreams. Massive amounts of time were taken up by anticipation and worry. What would people say?

Fortunately, I learned a few things over the years that helped to erode the fear and change the way I think about self, the world, talent, success, and virtually everything else. Among these things are:

– People think about you far less frequently than you think.
– People who actively and regularly criticize and point fingers are usually insecure and deeply afraid themselves. Always consider the source of the criticism.
– Stop comparing other people’s outsides to your insides. Everybody is afraid of something.
– Surround yourself with genuine, supportive people that are helping you get what you want. Let the rest go on their merry way.

This is a far from exhaustive list, but you get the point. Where does your fear come from? What were you afraid your parents, neighbors, and friends would say?

About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

One Response

  1. Rick Sleeper says:

    Hey Joe,

    Finally got around to checking out your website and stalking you a little. Some great stuff here. Not really what I expected to find. I mean, I expected it to be great, but thought it would be targeted more particularly to the Law Enforcement demographic. Your blog entry “Fearless Friday” reminded me of a round of golf I played in 1993. This tournament was named as a memorial to my grandfather. Playing with the neighbor and best friend of my deceased grandfather, he asked me about the decision I was struggling with to leave my employer of 8 years to chase two dreams. We stood on the elevated 18th tee box and he literally pointed down the bank to other golfers, mostly several decades my senior and he asked me “take a look at all those old guys down there. Do you imagine any of them wishing now that at the age of 29 they had taken one less chance?”
    The next morning I handed my letter of resignation to my boss and agreed to freelance the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway for CBS. When I returned I bought a struggling business in a barn in my hometown.
    Great stuff here, Joe!
    Best wishes to you.
    By the way there’s a farmhouse just listed for sale about 1/2 mile down the road….easy commute to guitar night



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