Out on the plains, hunting for your dinner, your fear is keeping you alert and safe. But when you’re running a business, fear itself can be your enemy
You’re crouched behind a rock, a spear in your hand and you hear a roar. You’ve heard it before and you know what’s coming. It might be dinner, or it might be a mauling. Your heart is thumping, your throat is dry, and you can feel the sweat running down your back.
This is fear.
When you’re out on the plains, hunting for your dinner, your fear is keeping you alert and safe. But when you’re running a business, fear itself can be your enemy.
When we start a new business, it doesn’t take long before fear runs the show. The early days are hard, and it’s a rare person who doesn’t lie in bed, scared of failure. We imagine how bad we’ll feel if it goes wrong, and what everyone will say. There’s that fluttery, panicky feeling in the stomach.
That’s not the only fear. I’ve had the occasional client who’s scared of success! I know, it sounds crazy but it can hold you back just as much as fear of failure. After all, being successful might mean you have to be bigger than you know how to be. You know you’ll change in some ways and assume you’ll be criticised. If you suddenly earn a lot, maybe your friends will desert you, and relationship at home will shift. Success can be scary too!
It’s natural to be fearful. As humans, being fearful, wary, and ‘on-guard’ protects us. Fear warns us of danger and from getting hurt.
But we’re no longer running round with spears in our hand, looking out for dangerous animals. And when you’re an entrepreneur, fear can hold you back. Fear can keep you from taking action. Being scared means you always play small. In fact, when we allow fear to influence our decisions, we can really stifle our business.
When you’re fearful you –
Take on any client, but not necessarily the right client.
Undercharge because you’re afraid the customer will go elsewhere.
Compare your business with others, adapting to their formula instead of being true to yourself.
Don’t get out there and be visible.
Don’t invest in what you need because you fear you’re not ready or don’t deserve it.
Become afraid to go all out, and therefore don’t grow as fast as you could.
To prevent getting stuck in fear, you need to cultivate your courage!
Courage is like a muscle, how do you develop yours?
You’re probably familiar with the idea of us having two voices. There’s the one that gives you the ideas and goals that get you excited. That’s the voice that encouraged you to set up on your own. Then there’s the voice of fear that says ‘Who do you think you are, that’ll never work’. The latter one is your ego, keeping you safe, just like your ancestor out on the plain. Whenever you feel uncertain and cautious, that’s your ego, coming up with thoughts that make you fearful.
When you recognise that’s what it is - just a thought - you can turn it around.
The way to do that is to ask, “What am I actually afraid of here?” Your ego, trying to protect you by making you cautious, will come up with various scenarios.
Next ask yourself, “Where is the evidence for this?” For example, you have a big presentation coming up, and you’re nervous about pitching to the company. When you ask yourself what you’re afraid of, you immediately imagine standing in a room full of people laughing at you, while you have completely lost the plot!
Where is the evidence for this? Well, there isn’t any! You’ve never been in that room, and have no idea how those people will react. But you do know your product, your figures, and you know this thing you’re presenting is going to give them brilliant results.
That’s what you focus on, that’s how you cultivate courage!
Focus on the thoughts that are going to make you feel confident.
Thoughts such as:
I have 10 years experience and I know what I’m talking about!
I’ve doubled my income in the last year
I’m very good at delivering
I have brilliant ideas
I’m an expert in this field.
Let me say this, a belief is a thought that’s become a habit. If a child is told they are shy, and it’s frequently repeated, eventually that child will believe they are shy and will act accordingly. However, it was someone’s thought, expressed in words that the child came to believe was true. Therefore you can tell yourself anything often enough and eventually it will become a belief and you will behave accordingly.
So what would happen if you thought ‘I am a courageous owner of a successful company”? I would suggest that as you repeated that phrase often enough, you would start to act as a courageous owner of a successful company. If you don’t believe me, try telling yourself every hour that you are exhausted, and I guarantee that by tea-time you’ll want to crawl into bed!
Show up as the person you want to be, always question the voice that keeps you back, and focus on the thoughts that give you the courage to move forward. Keep exercising that courage muscle!
As Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” So, cultivate your courage and I’ll see you on the other side!
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About Karen Burge
I found my passion in using my experiences and training to help others through whatever life threw at them. I have studied NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Breakthrough Coaching, the Thrive Programme and the Desire Map. This means I can draw on a number of tools and pathways, creating coaching sessions that are completely bespoke to you.