Conquering the Fear!
by Walt Goodridge
f you've ever wanted to start your own business and jump into the stream of but somehow never seemed to get up the courage to take the plunge, you might be suffering from a common malady which affects roughly 70% of the population: Entrepreneurophobia! Quite simply, after growing up believing in the American dream of working all of your life for a large company that will take care of you and provide benefits for you and your family, taking the leap into what most would consider an uncertain future is quite daunting. But take heart, as an entrepreneur myself, I'd like to share with you a new way of looking at what's holding you back so you can break free and achieve your own entrepreneurial dreams!
Naming the fear.
Being an entrepreneur has the glamour of being in charge, calling the shots, setting your own hours, more personal freedom, and just possibly the chance of making it really big with that new idea, service or product. On the down side, there are long hours, uncertainty, and of course, risk. Success is not guaranteed, and the money doesn't always come with the regularity of a day job. As a result, many of us choose to suffer in silent desperation making others into millionaires, while our own dreams of success go unfulfilled. What keeps most of us shackled to the nine-to-five grind is plain, simple FEAR. Fear of the unknown. But, don't worry, even successful entrepreneurs experience fear. It's part of being human. The trick is not to let it scare you into inactivity. The first step in our task of conquering this fear is naming it: Entrepreneurophobia, the fear of being an entrepreneur.
Fear of failure or fear of success?
Most of us have been programmed all our lives to believe that "success" is simply going to school and getting a good job. While these are admirable goals to pursue, they don't encompass the entire realm of ways to live our dreams. Unfortunately, the programming is so powerful, that any endeavor which we consider that's not based on those norms is threatening to us and to others. Starting one's own business is a bold move which little of our life's teaching really prepares us for. As a result, we are likely to suffer discouragement and even ridicule from family and friends who view such plans as silly and destined for failure. In addition, we often have to overcome our own insecurities: What if I can't sell my music or product, what if my business fails, what if I get sued, or end up in more debt? How will I pay my rent? What will my family and friends think of me if I fail? What will I think of myself?
Overcoming these self-doubts and negative influences doesn't mean you'll be successful either. In fact, it may be just the beginning of your troubles. Because, while many of us suffer from a fear of failure, an equal number suffer from what we can only call a fear of success! It's true. There are many individuals who don't know how to handle success and, when things are going well, appear to do everything in their power to destroy everything they've worked hard to achieve. The story of the superstar who "had it all" and then threw it all away on drugs, sex or gambling is the classic example. Even after we have achieved success, our own low self esteem may come back to haunt us. The external image we've created--the one that everyone else has of us--doesn't quite match the one we have of ourselves. So, we subconsciously do what we can to get them to match. So we end up sabotaging our own success. Then down comes the facade of wealth, confidence, and success, to be replaced with the old one of poverty, lack and negativity. That's what fear can do to you. While the bad news is you may never get rid of your fears completely, the good news is that you can learn how to manage them.
When you're in business for yourself, sales, employees, expenses, taxes, growth and everything related to your business require effective management. Fears, too, are as much a part of being an entrepreneur, and need to be managed. Many potential entrepreneurs fail even before they write their business plan, simply because they don't practice fear management well enough in advance and, just as importantly, during the life of their venture. To help you get a handle on your fears and practice fear management, here are a few basics you should know.
The Facts About Fears
- Fear is at the basis of most of human activity. It's one of the two reasons why we humans do ANYTHING. (The other reason is love). From working, to war, to religion, to politics, to sex, practically every aspect of what we call civilization is in response to some fear or another. Fear of starvation leads to the development of agriculture; fear of poverty leads to the pursuit of wealth; fear of the elements leads to construction of shelter; fear of death leads to the development of religion. Fear of losing freedom, independence and territory leads to war.
- All fears are learned. Behaviorial psychologists say that the only fears we are born with are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All our other fears are learned, and like a bad habits, can be unlearned. So there's hope!
- Fears are not real. Fears are illusions. Fears do not exist. They are your responses to ideas that you've created from unreal beliefs. They have power only because you give it to them. Remember the first time you spoke or performed in front of an audience? The first time you dove into a pool? The fear at those times was so overwhelming that you thought you wouldn't survive into the next day. Well, you have survived, hopefully with the knowledge that the fears are usually more powerful than the thing we fear. In other words, fears rarely equal consequences. As you face your fears, ask yourself: what's the worst that can happen? If your idea doesn't sell, will the death penalty be imposed? Doubtful. Many of us would probably realize that our deepest fears are actually unfounded if we did a realistic assessment. But many of us never do becasue often it's easier to magnify our fear than to admit that the only thing holding us back ..... is us.
- Fears signal opportunities. The only way to grow in life is to take yourself out of your "comfort zone". As long as you keep doing only what you're comfortable with, you will never grow. If something you're considering doing causes fear, the fact that you feel the fear is probably an indication that this is something you NEED and MUST do to grow into the next stage of your life. As a child, you couldn't walk until you conquered your fear of standing. You couldn't run until you conquered your fear of walking. Fears are the mind's way of identifying areas in your life that you need to work on. And as you do, you may stumble, or even fall, but you ALWAYS learn and grow