Behind every successful entrepreneur lay a field of hidden landmines riddled with fear (“fearmines”). Some were stepped on. Others lay dormant, under the surface, affecting the journey just the same. The key is to be aware of them, know where to step, and what to do when you step on one.
The first and most important thing to know is that EVERYONE has fear.
Successful entrepreneurs just know how to work with it. In fact, successful entrepreneurs were once unsuccessful—the difference is that they continued taking steps on their path in spite of the obstacles (the biggest being their own fears).
àStep one is to get comfortable with your fear and reassure yourself that it’s a natural part of your journey’s landscape.
Once you realize that you’re not alone and that fear is normal, you can then employ measures to avoid needlessly stepping on fearmines all the time.
Fearmines often look a little different. They tend to leave a little bump on the surface and can easily be seen IF you take the time to look. Once observed, you’ll recognize it as some old sensitive wound.
Maybe the wound was something your parents told you (“Get your head out of the clouds!” when you were daydreaming or coming up with new inventions.) Or perhaps it was from being ridiculed by your peers, the ones who insisted you’d never amount to anything and would be doomed to poverty.
àWhatever the wound, take time to recognize it so you can avoid stepping on it and repeating the damage (e.g. like when you repeat the damage by yelling at yourself “Get your head out of the clouds!” after you’ve experienced a let down).
Another common fearmine includes control. Being able to adapt to change and uncertainty is the prerequisite for succeeding as an entrepreneur. People who need a high degree of control will tend not to be as spontaneous, imaginative, flexible, and inventive. Usually they’re like this because of fear.
When we feel out of control and overwhelmed, we tend to take control. However, control is a tricky illusion. The irony is that our fear reaction tends to make us take control where we don’t have it and give up control where we do have it (with ourselves).
àTake stock of your feelings and recognize if fear is making you overcompensate with controlling and/or self-sabotaging behaviors.
A couple of common fearmines have been addressed, but what do you do when actually you step on one?
Failure (getting lost in the fear) is part of the process. Fully feeling the fear and moving through it builds your resilient muscles—and it’s exactly these muscles that make you thrive as an entrepreneur (and as an artist, as a human being, as a parent, as a soul). What counts is taking that deep breath and continuing on the journey knowing that unresolved issues will still be there, but you’ll be stronger the next time when you inevitably reach them again.
àRecognize and repair once you’ve stepped on a fearmine. Honor it. Feel the feelings. Control your part and avoid overcompensating. Then get back up and keep going.
By now you’re seeing the pattern that fear creates action (even if inaction)—actions which aren’t always healthy for our self-worth or our entrepreneurial ventures. Understanding how your personal fearmines influence your behavior and how best to compensate for them makes the difference. Knowing this is a normal process helps you to keep going. Recovering from a fearmine is the success.
Remember that everyone has felt like a pretender and questioned their talent and venture. It’s fundamental human nature to seek understanding, desire approval, and dream of complete acceptance—and fear when we don’t have these things. To fear is human and to recover from it, divine. When treated properly, fear can propel us into depth, growth, and inventiveness beyond any of our perceived limitations.
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