The dance of fear (part 1)

People often assume the reason I have started businesses and worked for myself for most of my career is because I am fearless. Friends of mine often say ‘Oh I couldn’t start a business, I’d be too scared.’ Fear though is ever-present in my life – I just refuse to give in to it (on most days) In fact I spend a lot of time trying to keep it at bay. I know people for whom fear is a driver, it gets them up in the morning, motivates them to do better. I on the other hand find fear frequently paralysing – it keeps me in bed, it takes me away from the office and into the arms of the nearest cake shop. And so I have had to learn how to manage the fear so that I can get things done.

These are things that help me when it feels like it’s getting too much

– I can’t escape the fear, there is no magic formula. So I just try to let it be – like a scary looking spider on the ceiling, I try to accept that its there and when I stop running from it feels less overwhelming

– I tell myself – of course I’m scared! I’m doing something new and adventurous and crazy and wonderful.  I am not doing the 9-5, I have no job security, it’s perfectly natural to feel fear.

– Fear is there because I so desperately want things to work – and wanting and desiring to achieve something good is a very positive thing. I care a lot, and caring is good.

– One step at a time. When you are working alone, or starting something with a few people it’s really tough to gauge your progress. There is no structure and therefore it can seem as if everything takes ages and nothing is really getting done. My mantra for everyday therefore – to make me feel like things are progressing and also to help keep the fear in check is – what one thing can I do today that will progress the business in the most significant way? It could be making a phone call to a potential client, finishing a sponsorship proposal, writing that email to your lawyer. I find that amongst all the boring stuff if you can have one bright and shining achievement every day it’s easy to keep your spirits high and your fear nice and low.

– And finally there are just some days when nothing will work and it takes me over. So I just say – OK! Here you are fear, you’ve got me today. I’ll give in. We’ll start again tomorrow. Because life isn’t perfect, we aren’t robots, and some days just completely suck.