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29th Dec 2018

The one piece of advice that I heard over and over from successful Irish women this year

It's what sets successful people apart.

Anna O'Rourke

The one piece of advice that I heard over and over from successful Irish women this year

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

When it comes to inspirational quotes, there might be no topic or theme better covered than the idea of fear.

You’ve heard them all so often that they can feel meaningless – “feel the fear and do it anyway”, “fear is temporary, regret is forever”, “fear kills more dreams than failure ever did” – but the idea of overcoming what you’re afraid of is very much something worth thinking about.

That’s what I’ve learned through interviewing some incredible Irish women in business this year for our series Make A Fuss.

Going into the project, I thought that successful people were those who had no fears, who were born ready to be champions. Speaking to these women, I now know how wrong I was.

Everyone, I’ve discovered, has worries and doubts. Imposter syndrome is very real and many people genuinely fear that they’re not good enough.

Very successful people are no different. The only thing that sets them apart is a willingness to recognise their fears and a determination not to let the doubts they have hold them back.

It’s the single most common theme that runs through the series – time and time again, highly successful people tell me how scared they were at the beginning, how they doubted themselves, how they were afraid of failing, of looking stupid, of losing money, of the unknown and how they just cracked on with achieving their dreams regardless.

They are proof that you don’t have to be special to get what you want, you just have to push past your fears.

Here are some of my favourite lines about fear and doubt from the series:

“We don’t do the things we want to because we’re afraid… but when we fail is when we learn and we grow. You get back up and you follow your dream” – Gillian Halpin of Irish luxury candle company Jane Darcy on feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

“What people often don’t talk about is the fear factor – that’s the biggest hurdle for me, pushing through the fear and the doubts that come up” – Nicola Connolly, founder of Irish skincare brand Nunaïa, on her nerves about launching a new product.

“Sometimes I do question myself – have I the capability? Then you do something, come out the other side and say, what was I worried about?” – Java Republic MD Grace O’Shaughnessy told us that never getting comfortable is the key to getting ahead.

“Imposter syndrome and all this kind of stuff can exist and it can be acknowledged but really the sooner you back yourself in driving the business forward, I think the better,” – Beats Medical CEO Ciara Clancy wishes she’d backed herself sooner.

“Even now I still have self doubt in what I’m doing but I wish I’d put my whole heart into it from the very beginning and just went for it,”  – Ruth Dempsey of vintage store Finders Keepers on self-belief.


Feature image: Gillian Halpin