What are you afraid of?
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear Nelson Mandela
When I sat down to write this She-Mail my brain kept nagging at me, nooooo you don't want to talk about THAT today, people in business don't want to talk about being scared. They want to talk about success and confidence and 'look-at all-of-the-people-queuing-down-the-street-to-buy-my-stuff'
Well, unsurprisingly I'm not one to shy away from a challenge and this needs to be discussed, so buckle up ladies. We're going there.
Regardless of the stories we hear, running a business can be downright bloody terrifying. Anyone who's stepped away from a regular salary and stepped into the world of self-employment will testify that it's not for the faint-hearted or the teetotal. Fear plays a major part in business and for very good reason.
It's actually really quite useful.
In life in general, fear keeps us safe. Historically, fear kept us running from wild animals and away from all sorts of danger thus preserving the human race -nice job! However, in business, the story just isn't the same.
When it comes to the business end of things fear gets personal, the lines get blurred and we don't really know what to do with it. We're used to the emotion of fear keeping us safe but this time it's potentially keeping us stuck. This is where we need to learn the difference between safe and safe.
Safe on a primal level is listening to your gut, rooting yourself in what's right and true for you. If it feels just wrong then you should definitely question it. What is that particular feeling of fear telling you? Is someone giving you that horrible sinking feeling in your gut? Do you feel prickly all over when you consider a particular direction? Listen up, our body is asking you to question whatever it is.
Safe, on the other hand, is when your brain is just enjoying you ticking along. It's used to your comfort zone and anything outside of it feels like peeling a wax strip off slowly - Stuck, prolonged and unnecessary - So what do we do?
We can stop waxing altogether and stay small and safe (and probably a degree or two warmer) or we can just rip it off off quickly and enjoy the smoothness of the other side.
The trick, ive learned, is to recognise when we switch over from fear preserving our life to fear preserving our imaginary boundaries. When I look back over my own journey I can clearly see that the things have that scared the pants off me most in my work, were almost always the things that were the most critical to the growth my business. Go figure! You might have noticed something similar yourself, such as:
Starting a Facebook live session
Creating a video
Creating a Webinar
Face to face networking
All of the above are big fat and fear-inducing (and occasionally all out paralyzing) but tend to be key to growth if you can get past them in business. The trick is to start looking at the fear factor for what it really is, a message that we're on the verge of something big and potentially game-changing and then finding the courage to just take the leap. Often It's not the fear of the thing itself (whatever it might be) that scares us, it's symptomatic of our underlying fears of failure and success.
Fear of success!? What are you talking about???
Not so, bear with me here. I know it sounds ridiculous, after all, we're all striving for successful endeavours, aren't we? But what if that networking event or speaking gig might mean meeting someone who can put you in front of a much bigger audience? What if everyone loves it so much that you gain lots of fans, fall short of expectation and fail to deliver as a result? What if we become wildly successful and our friends stop wanting to hang around with us or our families fail to understand and it all implodes like a deflated bouncy castle?
This is called hitting our upper limit. It's a very real thing and because of it, we can subconsciously sabotage ourselves in quite spectacular fashion.
The good news is that now you know about it we can start to unpick the seams apart and take a real look at the fear itself. Understanding it is half the battle. So what are you procrastinating over? What do you know you should be doing to move forward but aren't for any one of a hundred reasons in your head? Grab a pen and get them on paper. Go ahead, I'll wait...
What does it look like? Are there any surprises? Why write it down?
Putting it onto paper and actually seeing it lessens its holds over us. When we can begin to see more clearly what's going on our brains can begin to make sense of it and put it into perspective. What's happening on your list? Go back and look at it again, what type of fear is at the root of each one? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Outright perfectionism?
Start by choosing one or two where you can you rip the wax strip off and just get work. Short term pain for longer-term results. If some of them feel a bit more sticky where can you ask for help? Have you tried 'The Community'? Our members have huge amounts of varied experience and expertise. Get used to asking for help when you need it. Can you reach out to a coach during the process for some short term hand holding? Maybe you need more specific training before you can confidently take a leap? Look for the resources you need to build the necessary skills to get on your way, but whatever you do.
Have you struggled with fear yourself in your business? Do you have any helpful tips for your fellow entrepreneurs? Be sure to drop in and share your experiences, good and bad with us. Connection is my favourite!