How Fear Can Stifle Your Potential

Recently, I wrote about 20 seconds of courage and what it could do for your life. Courage allows you to move past your fear into something new.

Your fear, on the other hand, holds you back. If you allow it to, fear will control your life and stifle your potential.

Fear can be a very powerful force in your life.

Via Creative Commons

Even those with extraordinary talent face the problem of fear.

Fear may make you tense. Anxious. Or even to hold back.

You may have seen this in an amazing baseball prospect named Billy Beane.

This man had everything that the scouts looked for.

He had the arm, the speed, the physique, and the face. He was destined to be the future of the sports team.

And yet he wasn’t. He allowed his fear to hold him back.

His story as a professional baseball player is a sad story of what happens when you let fear hold you back.

This is what was written about him in the book Moneyball:

Inside the batter’s box he struggled to adapt, but every change he made was aimed more at preventing embarrassment than at achieving success. To reduce his strikeouts, he shortened his swing, and traded the possibility of hitting a home run for a greater likelihood of simply putting the ball in play. He crouched and hunched in an attempt to hit like a smaller man. He might have struck out less than he otherwise would have done, but at the cost of crippling his natural powers. Eight years into his professional baseball career he was, in some ways, a weaker hitter than when he was seventeen years old.
— Lewis, Michael (2011-08-15). Moneyball (p. 50). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Fear crippled Billy Beane. It limited his potential. It produced a mediocre baseball player.

And it will do the same to you!

But only if you let it.

Don’t be like Billy during his days of playing the game. Don’t hold back your talents from the world just because you’re scared of failure.

Failure will not be the death of you.

You will learn from the failure and grow. Many times it will be the impetus that propels you forward.

Now is the time. Time for you to give it your all.

Lengthen your swing and aim for the bleachers. Stand up straight. Square your shoulders.

Let the world know that you mean business and you’re here to play the game!

When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Question: Have you seen the power of fear in your life? How has fear limited your potential? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Yes. I’ve seen the power of fear in my life. I’m currently wrestling with a decision about whether or not to go on a missions trip with my daughter this summer to Guatemala. A major roadblock in my decision is based on some fears I have.

    • I’ll be praying for you Jon. To make the right decision and to follow God’s leading.

      • I appreciate the prayers. You may have noticed from my post today that I’m getting ready to take a leap of faith.

  • That quote from Moneyball was powerful. It’s amazing what all he did just to not make a fool of himself.

    I wonder, though, what would have happened if a good coach stepped in and connected with him on a personal level. Coaching gives confidence, and confidence snuffs out fear.

    • Right! That quote struck home with me while I was reading Moneyball. To see the crippling affect fear had on this man who everyone said was going to do great things. It was quite sad.

      Good point Rob. One of the problems was that the coaches had stepped back and let him do his thing because of the potential they saw in him. Had they coached him and helped him overcome his fears, he may have been one of the best.

  • Great quotes- like usual!

    Fear has limited me most of my life- problem was, I didn’t realize it. I feared failure so much I simply didn’t try things that I wasn’t naturally “good” at. Thankfully, I have realized this about myself and am currently trying my hand at getting my manuscript published. Talk about fear! First I have to find one agent willing to even read it!

    • That is great you’ve finally realized that you’ve been fearful most of your life and you’re attempting to change. That is often the first but hardest step to take. I wish you well on your journey to getting your manuscript published!

      • Thanks, I appreciate it. It’s in God’s hands, so even if it doesn’t get published, it’s okay. Honoring Him is most important.

  • I have totally seen the power of fear effect my life. When I first started College my desire (And still my desire) was to preach to audiences but my fear held me back. It took some time and encouragement from a pastor/friend before I started to preach to the High School ministry.

    I started by opening up the services and doing announcements until I had the courage enough to preach the sermon. I still struggle with having the courage to speak in public but as I have more opportunity to speak in public my courage and skills will increase.

    • Public speaking can be quite scary! It’s something I struggle with as well. Have you looked into organizations such as Toastmasters? They are supposed to do a terrific job of increasing your public speaking skill.s

      • I know about Toastmasters but have not taken the time to look into it or attend. Its something at some point this year want to start attending. Are you apart of Toastmasters or have been to a meeting?

        • I’ve looked into Toastmasters but have not attended a meeting. Yet… I’m trying to find one that works with my work schedule but having trouble with finding one in my area that works for me.

          But from talking with friends, it has helped them tremendously. I’d encourage you to look into Toastmasters and seeing if any of the meeting times work with your schedule.

          • It sounds like it would benefit us both. I’m going to look for one this week.

            • Awesome Dan! If you sign up, please let me know how you like it.

              • Sounds good, I’ll let you know.

  • I used to be afraid of success and was willing to be satisfied with just being “good enough” at my job and career to merely keep it going. Once I got over that, I began to be promoted. But I still have to fight the fear from coming in and keeping me where I am.

    • That is awesome Larry! Isn’t it ironic that we’re often scared of success more than failure?

      • I think many of us are afraid of the demands success will place upon us. It’s much easier when you succeed than when you just run in place.

        • I think this can be a justified fear if it impacts family time.

          • I have not heard many “successful” people say that they spent enough time with their family.

          • I have not heard many “successful” people say that they spent enough time with their family.

  • I’m with TC in the fact that I just didn’t want to admit I was afriad. I had talked about releasing a book for years, I talked about getting out of a job I hated for years, but never took action. I had to be honest and admit I was afriad. On a daily basis I want to share the Gospel with all kinds of people but have little fears that sometimes stop me, no more! Life is too short to waste time letting fear hold us back from the lives God desires for us to live! Great post Joe, I needed this afirmation today!

    • Well Kimanzi, you’ve already passed releasing a book and you’ve now released two and a half! (-; Keep pushing forward my friend and you will do great things!

  • I definitely am acquainted with the power of fear. I’m crippled by it. It prevents me from even attempting anything. And I don’t know what to do to get past this.

    • Thomas, I know where you are coming from. For a very long time I let fear hold me back in so many areas of my life.

      It took me coming to the realization that failure would not be the end of me, that fearing something I haven’t tried was insanity(to me at least), and that I wouldn’t grow without facing them.

      I encourage you to take some small steps towards facing your fears. Name them. Break them down into small stepping stones, and climb above them.

      If you’d like to discuss this further, I’m more than willing to spend some time with you. Just let me know.