Is Fear Holding You Back? by Martin Haworth

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Martin Haworth as he shares with us “Is Fear Holding You Back?” Enjoy!


I’m a great believer in accountability. In my role as a coach, I spend a lot of time encouraging clients to be committed to their future. In doing so, it is vital that they appreciate that there is no one coming to their rescue (except me, perhaps – more of that later*.)

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients one-to-one and of those, just two of them I’ve terminated. For those two alone were coming to me to sort out their problems, which is not what coaches do. Our role is to bring out the best in people. The best is already there, it’s just they don’t know it. Yet, there is some burning question within them that brings them to a coach. The itch they have inside them that tells them there is more to come.

I make it clear that whilst I will *facilitate them to develop; the work is for them to do.

I’m not going to tell them what to do; I’m going to cajole their potential out of them and be their accountability buddy.

They hold their potential inside; I help them with what stops them. I help them overcome the fear they have about who and what they are. The fear they have about the who and what they might become.

There are many reasons people are fearful of themselves.

The strong ones have enough of that itch to drive on to find ways forward.

Those who don’t will, as they say, have regrets when they lie on their deathbeds. Or become victims of the world and the people in it.

Sometimes, the most enlightened find that the accountability to overcome the fears that hold them back only makes matters worse. They decide, for whatever reason, to step back from the challenge before them. That can be even more upsetting.

For those people, I help them appreciate the great value that they bring to their world as they are and that it may not be the right time, that’s all.

I support them as they start to overcome their fears by building confidence; making small, incremental changes and, when they are ready, give themselves permission to go the whole way.

One of my own coaches said to me once, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

The plan here was to be prepared for failure and for the disappointments that we all experience when we try out new things. In that way, we can be resourceful enough to grow, for “What does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

Many years later someone else completely shifted my thinking around fear.

It is not good enough to be prepared for failure. It is setting a mindset of caution and under-performance that tests even the strongest levels of accountability.

She helped me with a better question on fear:

“What’s the best that could happen?”

By re-framing our fears into the possibilities in our lives, we see the world and most particularly our challenges, in a positive light.

In my writing, like most people, I have reservations about whether any of it is any good.

On the one hand, I love what I write and get a little overwhelmed by the million and one “rules” of writing I really need to apply (another bloody adverb!) I seek feedback that overwhelms me and become despondent. As a consequence, I let my completed works lie fallow. I fear wasting time working on them and then, for them to be of no value.

Then, in moments of sheer bliss, I tell myself that what I write might just make someone smile; might make someone think about their world in a slightly different way; and help them realize that the world is not all pain and struggle, that there can be days when there is a happy ever after; that the good guys do win sometimes. That even though it’s fiction, if they get up and fight and make themselves accountable for taking action, then the fear they have can and will melt away.

A fear is made up, by you and me, and that’s all it is. Electrons buzzing around brain cells. It isn’t real. It’s a perception. It’s made up. And if it isn’t real, then in an instant, it can be changed, if you are truly accountable to yourself; for yourself; and your future.

No one is here to save you. Except you. Your fears, completely real as they seem, are all made up in your head.

“What’s the best that can happen?”

Dream it; act on it; see what happens when you trust in yourself. So many times, just by letting yourself go, you will find that what you had inside was more than enough to take you into possibilities you might never have thought possible.

Comment below on what’s the best that can happen if you let go of your fear.



Martin HaworthMartin Haworth is a coach, trainer and would-be fiction author with a manuscript that “needs work.” He lives in Gloucester, England and has two grown-up kids and three grandchildren. He loves walking, travel, and supporting Burnley Football Club. Check out his website at

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