Five years ago, I would have told you that nothing scared me. I was invincible and hubris. I had completely bought into the myth that entrepreneurs were fearless and I was going to fully embrace that identity. (I won’t even tell you how fast I drove my Porsche because I know my mom reads this blog.)
But let’s just get this out of the way – that’s a bunch of BS. It’s just that – a myth. Entrepreneurs are scared on a daily basis. Entrepreneurs are not fearless or fearful; but they are fear-savvy.
“Life is found in the dance between your deepest desire and your greatest fear.” -Tony Robbins
There are two types of fear:
- The “Oh shit I’m being chased by a tiger!” fear (Primal Fear)
- The “Oh shit I’m about to be judged by my peers while I give this presentation.” fear (Psychological Fear)
Both fears live inside you and can’t be eliminated. Some fear is good, like the fear that compels you to to play dead when confronted with a bear attack (You’ve all seen The Revenant, right?). Primal fear is always with you and can cause you to take life-saving actions. Many of us will only experience primal fear a few times in our life.
A much more familiar type of fear is psychological fear. That fear you feel before you propose to your girlfriend or tell your parents you’re taking an unconventional career path. You will not physically get hurt, but your ego may get bruised. You’re afraid of failure or judgement or not being loved. These fears will show up again and again and again and try to paralyze you.
These fears (and we each have different ones) will keep you from living a big life unless you learn how to dance with them. Acknowledge the fear, take it’s hand, and dance. One step forward, one step back, one step to the side, one step forward… but keep moving alongside and through the fear. Do not let it hold you back! You are not your thoughts or your fears. You are the one who is just watching the fear bubble up to the surface. So sit back and let fear do it’s thing. You can’t stop it, so just dance with it.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
Richard Branson is one of the world’s most famous “fearless” entrepreneurs. From buying an island, to going on a rescue mission to Baghdad, to flying a hot air balloon around the world, to running the London Marathon in butterfly wings, Branson has done it all. But Branson is not fearless.
“I’m still struck by nerves when I speak in public, and I have been doing it for the best part of 50 years. I went onstage recently to speak to some of our staff, completely forgot what I was going to say, and ended up talking about public speaking being my biggest fear instead!”- Richard Branson (Excerpt from Virgin’s October 2015 blog)
Once I began my journey of personal growth and development five years ago, I began to peel back the layers of my ego (I even traded in my Porsche for a used truck) and realized there was nothing wrong with being vulnerable and sharing my fears with the world. I became fear-savvy. I was aware of my fears and began to understand where they came from, which allowed me to confront them and move through them when they came up. When you can learn to dance with your fears, they show up just like rain (sometimes it’s a drizzle and sometimes it’s a torrential downpour), but all you need to do is pull out an umbrella to protect yourself.
So, if Richard Branson can admit his fears, so can I. My 3 biggest fears are:
- Fear of Failure – Every time I step out of my comfort zone, fear of failure jumps up and says hello. This fear manifests when I take a risk with money, with a business, or putting myself in a situation where I risk embarrassment.
Dance Steps – When the fear of failure rises up, I stop and ask myself, “Will I regret NOT doing this?” If the answer, is yes, I go for it. I have a huge red sign in my office that says, “No Limits. No Regrets,” as a constant reminder to live life without limits.
- Fear of Mediocrity – For the first 15 years of my life I lived someone’s else life – a life I was told was how it was supposed to be. I have a burning desire to never go back to that level of consciousness and never want to put limits on my life.
Dance Steps – If you are not growing, you’re dying. Every day I strive to have as many experiences as possible. I don’t have to be the best at everything, but I have to know that I have done my best. Each day I journal and reflect on whether or not I could do better in all areas of my life.
- Fear of Losing Talent – I fear everyone just walking out of my organization.
Dance Steps – I work on my leadership and personal development daily so I can be the best leader possible and stay one step ahead of my team and organization. I always push to find ways to train, excite, challenge, and grow the people in my organization. If I am providing as much value to them as humanly possible, they will never want to leave.
Think about some of your biggest fears and when you had courage and were able to push through the fear. You may even get uncomfortable remembering the moment. But I bet you did not regret it, no matter how scared you were. In fact, whatever moment or fear you’re thinking of, it just might be one of your greatest moments yet.
When you allow fear to turn into courage, you GROW!
And that victorious moment will spiral into more courage and more growth, which in turn creates a virtuous cycle. It does not mean the fear disappears, it just means you are becoming fear-savvy!
No wall-flowers here – get on the dance floor! Are you fear-savvy enough to share your fears?