How to handle your fear and make peace with it
Entrepreneurs are usually seen as “courageous” or “fearless”. It seems that fear is not an issue to founders or early stage business owners, or they simply just have enough courage to start something new. But is it really true?
I have seen a lot of self-sabotaging in entrepreneurs and it mostly originated from fear. Fear to be rejected, judged, criticized, imperfect, to be seen as a failure, or even just be visible.
“I just need to be brave.” You may have said this to yourself, even more than once, hoping to kill this fear.
However, you are still not confident that you can leave your fear behind and certainly become a superman or a wonder woman to rise. So what can you do?
Here are the practical steps you can take:
- Understand where this fear comes from
Did you make any similar mistake before? Was the result awful? Is your fear related to the people you value? Did it become part of your narrative about your capabilities?
By deep diving into your fear and understanding how it is formed, you will discover how to break it. You can also learn what the triggers for this fear are by recognizing the pattern of your fear. So next time it occurs, you know it is your fear trying to take over.
- See fear as an uninvited guest, not an enemy
Some of the fears we developed throughout the time were actually meant to serve us. We are hardwired to prevent ourselves from danger, unknown risks, instability, etc.
From the evolutionary psychology perspective, fear alerts us and enhances our vigilance, hence increasing our chance of survival. Fear lets us stay in our comfort zone so we can stay safe. Therefore, it is pretty unlikely you can expect fear to totally disappear.
Just like an uninvited guest who turns up at your party at the wrong time, instead of getting agitated or frustrated, staying calm (and collected) is a better option.
You might just give your fear the cold shoulder, or explicitly say: “Thank you for your interest, but this is not the time for you.” and go back to what you really aim to do. You are the host, you make the call.
- Commit to take actions, not goals
A lot of the time we were stopped by “fear of not achieving the goal”. This is because we see achieving the goal as the only success and nothing else.
For instance, you have a fear of pitching because your goal is to get another round of investment or secure a strategic partnership, and you are afraid that won’t happen once you pitch.
However, inaction will lead to failure silently, which many can neglect. As long as you take actions, you always gain insights, learn, and improve, even if you don’t reach your goal at the first attempt – you are getting closer anyway.
While fear may sound negative in many cases, it is also a positive sign that we are challenging ourselves to expand to a new territory. Tapping into the unknown can be frightening, but ask yourself this question: What will happen if you let your fear dominate you?