There are many things in business and life that will threaten to stall your momentum or discourage you from achieving your goals. Is it possible that instead of avoiding the things we don’t understand, we should instead dive into them with all of our strength?
Are the things we avoid where our greatest opportunities for growth lie?
Maybe some people don’t want to grow. I don’t blame them. Growth is hard and often painful. However, sometimes it’s necessary. When we were kids, our parents would force growth on us. If we didn’t listen, or constantly fought with our siblings, or didn’t want to share, our parents would step in to force us to change our ways. And there was usually a punishment (we didn’t have time out’s back then!) if we failed to do what we were told.
As adults, we have the choice to turn away from unpleasant change. We get to make our own choices and no one corrects us. We can follow our fears and avoid the things we don’t like. No one forces us to confront those issues and conquer our fears. Just as we have to feed ourselves as adults, knowing when we should face our fears is something we must do for ourselves.
Unfortunately, most of us did not receive an instruction book on how to identify our fears and which ones should be defeated and which ones could be safely ignored. Sometimes it’s easy. If you have a fear of heights, you don’t have to force yourself to bungee jump. Maybe it would help you get over your fear of heights. But maybe it isn’t worth getting over. If it doesn’t cause you any problems or hold you back, then so what?
What if you fear is public speaking? Like having a fear of heights, if it isn’t causing you a problem, then you might be able to go your entire life being afraid to speak in public. However, if giving presentations is part of your job, or part of a job you want, then you have a challenge on your hands. Speaking in public might be essential to your success as a small business owner. If so, you have identified a fear you are best to overcome.
A fear that stands between you and success is a fear you must overcome.
Starting a business is a daily lesson in confronting fears and deciding which ones you should challenge and which ones you can safely ignore. For most people, setting up a business is so new and unique, there are many unknowns and fears that must be overcome. Perhaps if you grew up in a home with entrepreneurial parents, you are more comfortable with the type of risk-taking and social activities that are parting of having a business. Of course, most of us weren’t so lucky.
» A life lesson you can use
I learned a secret for dealing with fears that are holding me back. It probably shouldn’t have been a secret, but since it seemed amazing to me, and was previously hidden, as far I was concerned, I discovered a secret! I want to share an example of this as it pertains to setting up a business.
When trying to start my first business, I was so befuddled that over roughly fifteen years I must have started and stopped at least a couple dozen times – without actually accomplishing anything. In a quiet moment (a moment of despair) I considered what was stopping me over and over again. In my case, after all of the worries and anxiety fell away, I realized that I was afraid that if I didn’t set up my business correctly right now, then I’d be doomed to failure. I was worried that I’d incorporate incorrectly, or not incorporate at all and get in trouble with the IRS, or that I’d fill out some form incorrectly. There were so many considerations that I couldn’t move beyond this one question: what type of business entity should I set up?
I didn’t have a business yet. I didn’t have a single customer, or even a prospect. Yet, I was stuck on a step that was usually something to consider after there was an established business, or at least a business plan. Nonetheless, I thought that if I didn’t get this right, then I simply couldn’t proceed.
This is what I did next…
1. It Didn’t Matter: I decided that even if I didn’t get it right, it probably didn’t matter. How could this be? Well, I figured that if my business was a raging success I would have the money to pay an accountant to fix the problems. While, if my business wasn’t successful, I wouldn’t have any money to pay taxes on anyway.
2. Limit What I Was Reading: I decided to limit my sources of information to just one respected book. The current edition of that book is Incorporate Your Business: A Legal Guide to Forming a Corporation in Your State.
3. Research: I made a list of pros and cons of various types of business entities (Sole Proprietorship, LLC, C-Corp, S-Corp) based on the book.
4. Make A Decision: Based on my list, I made a decision. I must admit that it was something of a guess, but an educated guess. I didn’t know for sure that I was making the right choice. However, for me, it didn’t matter. As mentioned in the first step, I figured that if I didn’t something wrong, it could be fixed.
5. Take Action: I proceeded to file the appropriate papers in order to set up my business. I had to do it the hard way because LegalZoom didn’t exist yet. LegalZoom makes the process easy. That alone removes a major obstacle from setting up your business. They do almost everything for you.
To my surprise, not only did I not get it all wrong as I had feared, but I got most of it right.
The unexpected bonus
An unexpected bonus was that when I received my corporate seal and saw the name I selected, something was triggered in me. I had a realization that I had a business. I actually started a business. I thought it would be too hard, but I did it.
Starting a business, and having proof of it, was so motivating to me that it boosted my morale as well as my effort way beyond what I had been doing previously. Knowing that I had created a business, and that I had overcome my fears, inspired me to work harder and better than I had thought possible.
Here is the key: My fear of setting up a business stopped me from starting a business at all. When I confronted this fear, not only did I start my business, but I was rewarded with additional motivation and incentive to make that business be successful.
This can be a valuable lesson in both our personal and professional lives.
Instead of allowing ourselves to become disheartened by obstacles and fears, perhaps we can find a way to convert them into opportunities. I am a firm believer that the things we find most challenging, confusing, and threatening can often be turned around and used to our advantage.