Fear Is Not Fabuloso

“I heard you speaking Spanish to Monica,”  said Lynn.  “You sounded pretty fluent.”

I thought about my conversation and smiled.  “It’s not so easy to express myself in another language even thought it sounded like I was doing it.”

“Well, you must have an ear for languages.”

People say that when they cannot see themselves speaking another language.  What is actually true is that I have no fear of languages.  Or of making mistakes.

In fact, it is because I am quite comfortable bumbling my way through Spanish that I have learned more than I ever could in a classroom.


Fear?  What is that?

It is the most idiotic way of thinking:  “I don’t want to practice speaking Spanish because I might make a mistake and that would be absolutely horrible.”

Might make a mistake?

How would that be absolutely horrible?

Of course you are going to put your foot in your boca  – a lot – and I guarantee you no one is going to knock you off their Christmas card list because you made a mistake in a language you are trying to learn.

This damaging fear is more rampant than you think and probably has contributed to more people on this side of the Atlantic being stuck in a one language frame of mind.

If you look closely, you will see the thumbprint of this fear holding people back from doing many things that take them out of their comfort zone.

Like success.



You only live once.

Actually, that is not true.

You live everyday.

You only die once.

Might as well go big.

Don’t think about what other people might think.

Don’t apologize.

Don’t stop.


Fear Of Success

Of all the things I don’t get in this world, fear is the most mind boggling to me.

So many artists resist or run away from fear and dig their heels into their comfort zone, getting attached to familiar ways of thinking and looking at the world.  This is not what brilliant creative forces of nature do.  They pull on their boots and kick up dust stomping their way to the OK Corral of Success.

Here’s a few tips on unleashing your inner cowgirl.

It is a brave act to bare your artistic soul and request a grant to do something that is close to your heart.

Courage is rewarded, couch potatoes are not.


What Are You Scared Of?

You want to control your creative career & lifestyle, your destiny.  But deep down you know that your big success means making bigger changes in your life that can be so overwhelming that you would rather end up settling for less or doing nothing than put yourself through all that or worst of all, fail trying.


Here are 6 reasons why so many artists are afraid of success:

  • 1. They hate agonizing over certain decisions because there are so many options
    2. They cling to possessions, statuses and material acknowledgments they have attached a lifetime of value to
    3. They doubt they are not up to the challenge of changing
    4. They are reluctant to take any chances
    5. They focus too much on their perception of the external world
    6. They are not willing to become beginners in learning new things


Most of the time, this is something I pick up in the tone of a grant proposal.  Something not exuberantly expressed, something held back, a deflated sentence or two.

Nobody will fault you for being big, bold and beautiful.  We will run you tarred and feathered out of town for being mediocre.  That actually isn’t true.  We just won’t fund you.


And you?

Recently, an artist told me she decided to go for a couple of new grants.

“They are fairly competitive and prestigious,”  she said.  “Getting any one of them would really be good for me.  I decided you were right.  It is the foundation’s job to give away these grants so why shouldn’t it be me that gets one?”

She has always been someone who had a reason for not doing things.  For being super busy, for being perceived unfairly as an older artist, for not going for opportunities.  Almost willing to settle into a life of lesser promise.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear the boldness in her voice, the absence of the usual fear.  I am confident that will be reflected in her proposals.  Being bold, being assured, being assertive make for a distinctive tone.  I like that.

“I am still uncomfortable doing all this grantwriting but you know what,”  she lowered her voice to a confidential tone. “I feel good getting the damn thing off my desk.”

If that is what lights the fire to get you going, so be it.  I think that’s great.

Getting out of your comfort zone to build a dream is an everyday activity, no matter how small.


Fear is for amateurs

El miedo es para aficionados




About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.


One thought on “Fear Is Not Fabuloso

  1. I’m not afraid of success.
    I’m afraid of grant givers’ incompetence and the opacity of the system which might work better as a privately managed lottery.
    From what I’ve seen so far, public employees have no idea about what art is.
    It’s not entirely their fault; art schools don’t teach that.