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Embrace the Fear

July 16, 2014

Posted by: Monica Selby

Embrace the Fear

“You’re willing to give up good on the off-chance of finding great.”

Someone said this to me recently, and the most confusing thing about the statement was that it was said in an accusing way.

Isn’t that true of everyone?

Turns out that it’s not. Most people are willing to settle for good out of fear that they will never achieve great. That’s how the status quo is built in the first place.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are uniquely wired to seek out new possibilities. We’re able to see possibilities where others miss them, and we’re willing to give up good on the off-chance that we’ll find great.

But, mostly, we’re people who learn to embrace the fear.

It’s Always Gonna Be Scary

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say a billion more times: entrepreneurship is hard. It’s like life on steroids.

You’re building something from nothing, and you’re lucky if you can convince people you’re not crazy. Every day you have to think about product development, customer acquisition, marketing, employee relations, vendor relations, and--of course--revenue.

While much of entrepreneurship can be lonely, leaving you alone with your own thoughts and fears, there are growing communities of startups in most major cities. Unfortunately, being around your peers can often increase your fear.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Oh yeah, my startup’s going totally awesome. We’re killin’ it!”

With all that spin congregating in one place, it can be hard to remember that you aren’t the only one struggling..

And if you think that “success” is any less scary, you should read Ben Horowitz’s book about running a public tech company he built from scratch. Trust me, once you reach your goals, you’ll just find new ones to scare you even more.

It’s part of the game.

Manage Your Own Psyche

So, if it’s always going to be scary, what can you do?

The most important thing any founder can do is manage his or her own psyche. This means when your mind starts going down that negative, unproductive path, it’s your job (and yours alone) to bring it back in line.

It’s a tricky thing, of course. You don’t want to be so overly positive that you miss the warning signs within your company or personal life. But, if you focus on the negative, you’ll often miss the positives and things going well.

This is where good co-founders and hobbies can really help. Also, sleep. I know, I know. Entrepreneurs don’t sleep. But, I promise, everything looks better after a good nap.

Do It Anyway

Then there are days when nothing helps. When the fear becomes so big there’s no escaping it.

On those days, you just do it anyway. Embrace the fear.

Earlier this year, I produced a startup conference that brought together founders, investors, and creatives from all over the country. The weekend before the event, the fear hit, and it was so overwhelming I couldn’t avoid it.

So, I cried while I worked. I didn’t have time to stop and cry (or stop and do anything, really), so I cried and worked. Worked and cried.

And I got through that weekend and finished a great conference that was worth all the stress.

In both business and personal life, sometimes you just have to walk through the fear to get to what you want. Good entrepreneurs are the ones who figure this out quickly and learn to accept and embrace the fear.

And they get it done anyway.

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