Entrepreneurial Fear

A fear worth following

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Fear is not something I chase. Instead it chases me.

I have built a wall that keeps me safely tucked away from the things I fear most. More often than not, I am blind to the fear that lingers beyond this wall.  I have purposefully found ways around my insecurities and my brain has become numb to the feeling. Every now and then, however, it manages to peer over my defences, like when I need to pick up the phone to phone a new client.

As a small business coach, many entrepreneurs ask me how they can grow their business.  What steps do they need to take, or levers do they need to pull?  Sometimes there are some easy wins, but most of the time the wins – the real growth – are on the other side of what we fear.  While growth waits silently for is, our fear and calls to us, not in a gentle whisper, but with a wail of uncertainty, that disturbs us and threatens us.

Let’s look at Michelle an entrepreneur in the field of performance consulting. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field and highly praised by her clients. At the age of 49, Michelle has decided to start blogging. She has spent many hours writing, rewriting and perfecting her first blog. Now it sits on her computer; unpublished; unread by anyone but herself. Over time it will be buried in a forgotten folder, never to see the light of day.

Michelle, like so many entrepreneurs, has told herself that it will never work, or that someone might steal her intellectual property, or that someone will acquire her identity and take over her bank account.  Every thought will build that protective wall, brick by brick, until one day, the wall will completely surround the fear.  It will not call to her anymore.  Michelle will move on, thinking of other, less daunting, things.  Wondering what she can do to grow.

All of us are like Michelle, we all have areas that we need to master. But these are full of possible mistakes, ridicule or (even worse) almost victories.  Remember that sale? – the one that got away, the one where you almost closed the deal…almost.  Was that the first time that you said, “I don’t do sales, I am not good at it.”  Was it then that you laid the first brick in the wall? 

What would happen if we looked at anxiety differently?  If we saw it as the voice of growth, calling us, beckoning us onto its staircase of failure, challenging us to try and try again, failing until we don’t feel the bite of failure anymore.  Perhaps that is what called you to entrepreneurship in the first place, the call of the wild open possibilities.  The call to walk where you would not dare to before, where those around you see fear and tell you to stop.  This is the entrepreneurship that you came out to meet, where you challenge yourself to break through the walls of your own comfort.

Now, take a moment to rethink that anxiety.  Silence its wailing and try to listen to the quiet voice of growth.  Close your eyes and think about how it looks: the first yes after so many no’s; the first share of your blog; the first published book. This is the beauty of Entrepreneurship.  This is why you decided to pay the price.  This is why you travelled down this road, the one few others dare to tread.

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