As a business owner, you may think you are already well-acquainted with fearlessness. Afterall, it took a fair amount of fearlessness to take the first steps to becoming an entrepreneur. By nature, entrepreneurs have the bravery to veer off the beaten path of finding and working a regular job to make their way in this world. There’s a certain amount of safety and comfort in relying on someone else to pay you. Business owners take all the risk, employees take comparatively very little. Yet, with risk comes reward, and if you didn’t believe that fully, you would’ve have committed to the fearless action of starting your own business.
Still, fear comes up from time to time. Fear and anxiety can cripple a business owner, and by turn, their business. Like proverbial sharks in the water, competitors can smell fear, and employees often jump ship at the first signs of fear. As a business owner, with others relying on you, you need a way to conquer it. Fearlessness is what will allow you to remain active – to make the decisions and reach the goals you need to achieve to thrive.
Fearlessness: How to Trust the Entrepreneur’s Most True Compass
Trust your first impulse.
Again, if you’re a business owner, you’re already friends with fearlessness. Entrepreneurs are today’s adventurers, and you’ve struck out on your own, or perhaps with a partner, to discover what you can make, what seeds you can plant.
You’ve probably had a few losses along the way, and you’ve faced those down. You’ve become a champion. You managed those trying times by calling on your inner strength, and making the decisions that needed to be made. You couldn’t flinch. If you did, all the carefully placed cards of your business would come crashing down on the table.
You know what it’s like to take a deep breath and hold it, then walk through the fire. Your instincts have served you well thus far, and chances are, they’ll continue to serve you. When you think about it, fearlessness is the primary quality of any successful entrepreneur.
Fearlessness is the compass that guided you as you started your own business, and if you’re still going, you still possess that compass. Instead of looking at your fears, take out your compass and look at it. Where is it pointing? Is it telling you to run? That’s a valid option. It’s important to know when to cut your losses. But only you can know when you’re making decisions based on fear, or based on reason.
Expect the best.
Great expectations. The last we heard of this, we were probably in high school, reading the classic novel by Charles Dickens. And honestly? Great expectations didn’t turn out too great for all of the characters. Still, as Robert Grant explains in his TEDx presentation, having a confident hope for abundance is more helpful than taking on a fearful posture.
Grant’s wife had a great expectation of her own. She was at the end of her pregnancy when Grant traveled for an important business meeting over a thousand miles away. Of course, while he was gone, his wife went into labor. After telling the harrowing story of his daughter’s birth – and how he arrived in the nick of time – Grant describes both the hope and fear he felt when he became a father.
In beginning to describe how one can break out of fear and focus on hope, Grant gives us this quote:
Every moment free from fear
makes man immortal.
– Alexander the Great
Grant goes on to explain that we often don’t get what we think we deserve, but what we actually expect. Huge difference! Grant gives us two guidelines for maintaining a hopeful attitude of fearlessness:
- Practice gratitude.
- Be intentional.
The first of these – gratitude – is self-explanatory. Gratitude has become such a part of every motivational message out there that it has become the basic starting point for attitude change. If you aren’t practicing gratitude, get on it. Fearlessness starts with gratitude for what you already have.
The second point is about deciding to be hopeful. Yes, you can decide to be hopeful. Remember: hopeful is helpful.
Toward the end of his talk, Grant asks a question that will ring in your ears long after it is asked:
“What can your mind do in 18 months of you free yourself from fear?”
To hear the example of what he was able to do, listen to the talk:
Prepare for the worst.
At the beginning of his TED talk, Tim Ferriss flashes a picture of himself in college on the large screen behind him. The black and white photo shows an exuberant young man, with a huge grin. He looks healthy, full of promise. The audience is shocked when Ferriss explains that, one week later, he was on the precipice of taking his own life.
Ferriss suffers from bipolar depression, and the illness has caused him to experience an extraordinarily high number of depressive episodes throughout his life. In an effort to save his own life, Ferriss developed a plan that he could use to deal with the lows in his life, and come out the other end a survivor. In fact, this makes him a thriver. Fearlessness means facing your fears.
Ferriss is himself an entrepreneur, and it doesn’t take long to understand that the solution he has come up with could help businessmen and women across the board. The lows of your life or business don’t have to be a matter of life or death for his tool to help.
So what is the tool? Essentially, it is a plan to help you plan. It starts out by having you ask yourself your “next step” question: What if I…? Then, you let your brain go wild. Give yourself permission to come up with every possible negative outcome you could possibly imagine if you do the thing you propose doing in your “What if” question. You’re actually wanting to conjure your fears, rather than fearlessness, for this part. List those in one column, and in the two columns beside your worst-case list, come up with things you can do to prevent the worst-case scenario and things you can do to repair the damage if the worst does happen.
There’s more to the plan. To get the whole thing, and the front-porch philosophy that inspired it, watch Tim Ferriss in action:
Take one fear off your mind, for good.
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