Are you scared?
Never mind what it is you’re scared of…..are you scared? How does this drive your life decisions and your business?
I was reminded several days ago about something I said in a conversation with a colleague: “Most problems in business stem from one simple emotion: fear.”
Many of us don’t recognize this, as it can be very subtle. It can hide behind what we feel is desire, responsibility, and sometimes “doing the right thing.” Overt fears are a bit easier to recognize, but can be just as hard to manage. So much has to do with how much attention you give the fear, especially in relation to how much actual, real control you have over what drives it. The fear derives its strength from this perceived helplessness….no one wants to feel at the mercy of things, but when we confront that fact (lack of actual control), we get even more scared and grasp at almost anything to try and “regain” control, even though it’s not possible.
There are any number of things that instill fear in the hearts of businesses everywhere, including:
- You’re afraid that no one will want to pay for what you’re offering – People pay for value. Focus on what you do and create for people and how it makes their lives and businesses better. Remember all those you’ve helped and how big a difference it made. Broadcast those great results and them do the selling.
- You’re afraid your revenue model is unsustainable – All revenue ebbs and flows. Everyone, even the “Big Boys” have up months and down months. Like you do in life, put a bit of a “cash cushion” someplace (my father-in-law used to call this “other side of the wallet money”) that can help you in slimmer months. Diversify some of your income streams and find new ways to make money. Don’t put yourself in the spot where you make crazy decisions because cash is tight this month. You will regret that.
- You’re afraid that real growth means sacrificing what you have today – I have this discussion with many colleagues. Sometimes it revolves around raising some of their price points….they’re afraid they will lose customers. Given the great value of their offerings, though, they have to book many more engagements or sell man, many more widgets to hit revenue goals. Their customers get the value and, when asked, many say they would gladly pay a bit more because of the quality, the customer service, the expertise, etc. The discussion goes in the direction of losing customers fixated on price and gaining customers based on value. That is a good trade-off and better demonstrates the business’s REAL value.
- You’re afraid you’re not good enough – “Good enough” for what? If you’re in business and your customers are coming through the door, engaging and buying from you, you probably ARE good enough. Spend a bit more time with other entrepreneurs and business colleagues (get a mentor….), build some trusted relationships, and you can get feedback on your skills. You will be pleasantly surprised.
- You’re afraid of looking or sounding stupid – Fear of the opinions of others will kill you and your business, and it’s not worth it. Giving a presentation? Prepared? Then ignore this fear. What they think of you, beyond the value you bring, won’t matter within hours after they leave the conference room. Keep adding value and the stupid stuff will be forgotten.
- You’re afraid that real success means living up to a higher standard all the time – Of course you will be! The more successful you are, the more people expect from you. And why not? The kind of success you experience likely means you’re already delivering at the higher standard, one you set for yourself. When you fail, it will likewise be more spectacular, too. That’s OK….none of it is permanent. Be human about your mistakes, learn and grow. Everybody fails.
- You’re afraid that you can’t deliver your A+ performance every…..single…..time…. – Don’t even try. Don’t set yourself to be the constant hero…no one can perform at that level, despite appearances and Forbes articles to the contrary. Focus on what’s essential to your customers, cut out stuff you don’t need to do yourself (have a name or two of reliable Virtual Assistants who can step in and you can rely upon to cover some less critical things if you really need to focus on delivery for awhile….), and don’t forget to rest between these periods, as well as stepping away some during these periods. If you can’t think or function well, you can’t deliver a C+ performance, never mind an A+ performance.
- You’re afraid of losing any kind of balance in your life….that your business will take over – Take a HARD LOOK at your business model. If you are operating a purely Technician level in your business, you’re probably guaranteeing overwork. The business is supposed to support your life, not the other way around. For a GREAT read on this subject, check out Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited.
- You’re afraid of failure – And??!! Get used to it. Failure happens to everyone. Use it to your advantage. There are plenty of inspirational quotes by business leaders concerning failure, but my favorite is still by the late, great jazz man, Miles Davis, “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”
- You’re afraid of success – Success is scary because it means more responsibility, more scrutiny and a higher standard to live up to. Hurray for you! You are succeeding BECAUSE you are more responsible, can withstand greater scrutiny and are already living up to a higher standard. This reminds me of my career in the Navy when my colleagues were promoted from First Class Petty Officer to Chief Petty Officer: this wasn’t necessarily because the Navy believed they would be great Chiefs….it was because they already operated at that level…the Navy was recognizing it by assigning them the rank. Accept the mantle of success and keep focusing on delivering the value you do.
How are you dealing with your fear?
UPDATE: I recently came across a great article about fear that I’m including entitled “How Fear Works and How to Deal with It?” Let me know what you think…