Fear – The Fuel for Success!

Fear – The Fuel for Success!

By Josh Tolley


We are all familiar with the quote “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” While there may be some deep truth to that if you are someone who fears God (think about it), for the most part it is pretty useless for anything other than a Facebook status post.  There are things to fear.  A bear in the woods; if you do not fear the bear you could easily end up bear food. 

The problem with fear is NOT that there are things to fear, but rather our approach to it. 

Example: A wave is something to be feared. It can drown your child who isn’t a good swimmer, it can capsize your kayak, and it can flood your town if it’s a tsunami.  However, there are those who find pleasure in that fear.  So much so that they wake up early and head to the beach to ride the very thing that provides the fear.  The wave is still a wave; the “thing” isn’t really the issue.  Can the wave still drown someone? Sure.  Can it also provide a thrill for the one on the board? Sure.  If the wave is still the wave, the thing that changes is the approach to the object causing the fear.

Other examples of approaching fear from a differing perspective:

Firemen – Stuntmen -Scary movies –Skiing – Skydiving – Rock climbing – Dating – Astronauts


From a success standpoint fear can be crippling!

–          Fear of trying to sell someone something

–          Fear of making a poor investment

–          Fear you are not a good leader

–          Fear you do not have the skills that the letters behind your name represent

There are, of course, many fears that stop people from many things, today, however, we will focus on that first listed fear, the fear of trying to sell someone something. (The others I will cover at a later date)  I spend a lot of time with business men/women who run organizations where sales are a huge factor of success. 

The number one factor that stops people from success in anything, including sales, is fear!

Unfortunately (due to the lack of real leadership training on the market today) there are some very common (and terrible) responses from business leaders addressing this subject of “fear.”

1.       Tell their people that what they are wanting them to do really isn’t “sales” parse.

I find this most prevalent in MLM organizations. Newsflash: EVERYTHING is sales! How immature this strategy is! Think about it; the fact that you are selling your people on the fact that it’s not “sales” IS SALES!! Besides, they know better.  Whenever you are trying to communicate anything to anyone, there are sales involved. Telling them it’s not really sales is showing them that you yourself don’t understand what business you are in, or business at all for that matter.  Just what a business leader wants to project right?

2.       Tell them there is nothing to be afraid of.

How foolish.  This is why sales people – distributors have such a high turn-over rate. This is why only 4% of people involved in an MLM company actually succeed. Of course there is something to be afraid of. It is a scary thing to call on a business, approach a stranger and “pitch”, or pick up the phone.  Should it be scary? No. Is it scary? Yes.  When you tell people there is nothing to be afraid of and then they go try to “sell” they will be more afraid because now not only are they afraid of the sales process, but they are also afraid that they don’t have what it takes because you said there is nothing to be afraid of yet they are still afraid.  So your solution to fear is to worsen the problem? What great book did you get that out of?

3.       Provide little and/or poor sales training

I bring this up all the time, but every business is dependent on sales. Why on earth do businesses offer little to no training, and then the training they do provide is out of date? If you were a player in the NFL and your coach gave you an old leather helmet and a really thick sweater to act as padding would you be afraid? Yes! What if you coach also put you in the NFL game but didn’t provide any training/practice on how to play football? Would you be afraid? YES! The same holds true with your sales staff! I would be afraid to if I worked with you!

4.       Tell them that success is all a numbers game and they need to “run the numbers.”

This one is appalling as it is little more than excusing away your failure!  In sales it is amazing if you can “get” 3 out of 10. It is acceptable if you can get 2 out of 10 and even one 1 out of 10 and you keep your job.  Stop with all the baseball analogies about how one more hit every ten at bats separates the average hitter from the great hall of fame sluggers! There is an obvious problem with that analogy; the pitcher is trying to prevent the hitter from hitting the ball! If you are assuming that all your potential customers are out to avoid you, then you are destined to fail! Do you approach your day thinking, “today I will meet ten people who woke up and decided that they are going to try not to buy anything today, and I’m going to get 3 of them.”?

If you are averaging less than a 50% close rate, SOMETHING IS WRONG.  7 out of ten should be acceptable and 8 out of 10 should be rewarded.  Why would you program your staff that failure 70% of the time is success? Coaches that don’t produce at least a winning season (50% wins) get fired you know!

Instead of teaching your people to ignore fear, pretend it’s not valid, or there is nothing to be afraid of, we need to help them (and ourselves) recognize what really causes this fear AND THEN teach them to find joy, yes, joy, in facing that fear. Just imagine, all your sales reps/distributors being business adrenalin junkies!! Would you ever worry again if they are bringing in revenue? Never! Actually, you would have a wonderful new problem; how to give them a bigger challenge (bigger business) to keep them coming back for more. Do skiers stick to the bunny hill? No. Why not? Because it doesn’t present enough fear to make it thrilling. So in business you would need to expand, grow, promote, strategically advance in order to keep the great team from going elsewhere.  What a wonderful “problem” and what a radically different approach to this crippling topic of fear than what the “experts” are teaching!

Fear, if approached right, can be translated as “fuel”. Stop avoiding or ignoring fear. Stop telling people there is nothing to be afraid of.  Training yourself to be a great leader (and a great salesperson) is a must. If you think training is expensive, how expensive is failure?!  I’m just sayin’

Josh Tolley is a business and behavioral strategist.  His latest book, “Quit Your Job or Die: Discover the Importance of Self-Employment” has been a top ten best seller for over 12 weeks.  His teachings have been implemented by hundreds of people and dozens of businesses around the globe. He is ranked as one of the top 100 business and personal growth trainers in the world and is the developer of many human interaction technologies. Josh does take on a VERY limited number of personal clients, to discuss this or to book Josh for a seminar in your area contact Mike with The Annex Group at 626-893-4917 or contact@joshtolley.net


One thought on “Fear – The Fuel for Success!

  1. I was just e-mailed this from a friend and I’m sitting at work (which I’m a manager) and this is so right on!!!

    There are books on my bookshelf, and my boss’, that talk about “there is nothing to fear” and all that crap, and yeah, like you said, that only makes the proble worse.

    Where can I get more of your stuff? Do you have dvd’s or something?

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