There’s nothing that holds us back from achieving our dreams more than our fears. We become so handicapped by them that we reduce ‘fight or flight’ to just flight. Before we know it, we would have become adept at running away from our problems – problems that we need to climb over in order to get ahead.
If you’re an entrepreneur, there is a good chance that you’re struggling to face some of these fears. See if you recognise them and get your shot of encouragement!
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“The biggest risk is not taking any risk ... In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” - Mark Zuckerberg
For an entrepreneur, every step is a risk. You’ve left the comfort of your steady job and decided to start on your own. You’ll have everything on the line and therefore, a strong urge to protect it all. So it’s only normal to hesitate before taking a risk. But moving ahead in life is much like crossing a road with heavy traffic – hesitate too much and you’ll remain standing there while the world moves on. The trick is to familiarise yourself with it just enough that you’ll learn to take calculated risks.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll be walking away from a trodden path and creating your own. Think of it this way – a risk is simply the hack that clears the new path for you.
“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
What Martin Luther King is trying to tell you is that nothing is ever the end, that you create an end only by quitting. It’s a bit comforting then, to know that you can never fail as long as you keep moving. The ground is a familiar place for successful people because they fall many times. They even smack their faces against dead ends. But they’ve always found a way, either around it or through it. They keep moving, with their bruises as their trophies, they keep running, and keep crawling.
“Only the mediocre are always at their best” - Jean Giraudoux
The truth is that there will always be someone better than us, even if we’re really, really good at something. What then is the point of chasing after the ‘best’? We’re never good enough at the beginning of a journey but that’s no reason to never begin. Mediocrity is what keeps us going, what gives us the drive to keep achieving. If we didn’t have the need to get better, and if we were content where we were, like the ‘best’ would be, would we really get anywhere? Our only aim, your only aim as an entrepreneur, should be to be better than we were yesterday. It’s the closest route to being the ‘best’.
“You can’t have everything you want, but you can have the things that really matter to you” – Marissa Mayer
Practically speaking, sacrifices are necessary in order to be successful. Starting a business is no easy task, and you’ll find yourself giving up more and more of your time for your work. There is no sense in being afraid of the inevitable; one just has to embrace it. But as Mayer says, you can still have the things that really matter. The trick is to strike a balance because there’s always a way to make things work. One should simply be willing to find it. With a little effort (actually, a lot) you’ll be able to find time for the people or things that matter. Andrew Wilkinson, Founder of MetaLab, wisely notes –“You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful”.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less” - Marie Curie
Fear of the unknown is the embodiment of fear itself. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be stepping into unfamiliar territory, out of your comfort zone, and without a map of the minefield. The anxiety of this is so crippling because it convinces us that everything there is to fear is our reality – and so, we never take that first step. If you’re faced by this fear, realise that all you have to do is put yourself out there. Once you do, instinct kicks in and you will, without any doubt, adapt. As Curie wonderfully puts it, the only way to conquer fear is to understand it. But an understanding of the unknown comes only when it becomes the known.
Getting rid of fear isn’t the same as turning off a switch. You will have to carry its weight on your journey but the load does get lighter along the way. Fear is skin (however thick) that can be shed so don’t let it keep you from experiencing your life and the world through it.