As an entrepreneur, an abundance of self-doubt and fear can be the lethal bullet to any business or brilliant idea. In a day-and-age where keyboard trolls and unsolicited criticism have become the norm, we see more and more ideas and entrepreneurial journeys landing in the graveyard before they ever get a real chance to take off. Which begs the question – how do you overcome the fear, self-doubt and lack of confidence before it becomes a dagger in the heart of your business?
WHAT YOU FOCUS ON EXPANDS
A lot of entrepreneurs describe themselves as being logical and unemotional and while this sounds great on the outside, it causes them to reject the basic biological structure of the brain, which can set them up for failure. Ultimately, it’s the emotional part of our brain – the unconscious mind – that drives all of our decisions and behaviors, we simply back these decisions up with logic and reasoning.
Our unconscious mind bases our decisions on the belief systems we hold to be true, and the experiences that we’ve had that further “prove” our belief systems to be “right”. Out of all the information that is bombarding our nervous system every second (approximately 2 million pieces per second), we are only able to consciously process the 134 pieces per second that most align with our beliefs (about ourselves and the world around us). For example, if I start my day with a belief that no one likes me, I will perceive and skew every interaction I have that day to prove this. I may smile at someone on the street and they scowl as they pass me and I think to myself “See?! I was right!”, when in reality that person was so lost in their thoughts about whether or not they turned off the stove that they completely missed my smiling at them.
The same happens with fear and self-doubt. The irrational fears that people have in day-to-day life or during their entrepreneurial journey are often completely unfounded, and yet because these thoughts continue to float around their mind, the fear continues to grow bigger and bigger. The amygdala (the fear center of the brain) jumps onboard to add fuel to the fire and before you know it, what started out as “No one will ever buy this product” quickly grows into “The entire world will laugh at me and mock me for stupidly believing this product/service would ever sell and I’ll be banished to Siberia to spend the rest of my life living in a miserable hell hole with reminders of my foolish ideas daily”. And while it sounds completely ridiculous to read now, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll recognize your own version of this story!
Suppressing that voice inside your head isn’t the answer though. In fact, forcing yourself to focus on something different just fans the flames of your fear until it’s screaming so loudly that you’re paralyzed by it. Instead, we need to…
DISCOVER WHAT THIS IS REALLY ABOUT
Fear is like that annoying 3-year-old kid who incessantly asks you “why”. If you choose to ignore them, they’ll simply speak a little louder…and louder still until you have no choice but to answer.
When fear comes knocking, instead of simply ignoring what it has to say, ask what it’s really about. Have a cup of coffee with your fear, really get to know it. The understanding you’ll gain will give you valuable information for the long run. I suggest asking the fear the following questions:
What is this fear really about?
What is the worst case scenario if I move forward? (List as many as needed)
If the worst did happen, is it final and irreversible? If not, how could I recover?
Is the worst case scenario preventable? If yes, how?
What do I stand to lose if I DO take action? What do I have to gain?
What is the worst case scenario if I give into fear?
What do I stand to lose if I DON’T take action? What do I have to gain?
Now that you have all the relevant information, you are faced with a choice: which scenario presents the most life-impairing scenario? Will it be worse (financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually) to take action or give into fear? In most situations you’ll find that giving into fear and not taking action is far more damning than jumping in!
DETERMINING WHERE TO START
Now that you’ve seen your fear for what it really is: an irrational thought process designed to keep you safe, it’s time to start taking action. Cue the overwhelm. Overwhelm often kicks in for a couple of reasons, such as we don’t know the “right” place to start and we’re afraid we’ll forget a key aspect if we start in the wrong place.
It’s important to note that there is no “right” and “wrong” when it comes to taking action and moving forward. Sure doing some tasks first will make other tasks more efficient or easier, but forward progression is still forward progression! Holding onto an either-or mindset stops us from moving forward at all! Instead of giving into the hopelessness of overwhelm, create a mind-map to lay out all the aspects of the project. Here’s how I suggest creating your mind-map:
Turn a piece of paper horizontally (landscape)
Put the name of the project in the middle of the page
Determine the major areas of the item you’re working on. For example, if you’re starting an e-commerce business you may determine that the major areas are: sales/ecommerce platform, marketing, brand building, customer retention, and administration.
Working on one major area at a time, determine all the tasks that need to be completed in that area. For example, under marketing you may have: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google Adwords, newspaper, community, etc.
Continue breaking the tasks down until they are in their most basic component. For Facebook ads, for example, you may have: set up business manager, write the ad copy, create the lead magnet, create the funnel, create a video, etc.
Once all the tasks are outlined, determine which tasks can be delegated. For example, if writing ad copy is not your strength, find a copywriter (even if it’s on Fiverr) to take care of that task for you.
Of the remaining tasks, as yourself these questions: “Which task, once completed, will require 20% effort and provide 80% return?”
And “Which task, once completed, will negate the remaining tasks or make them easier?
Finally, all that is left is to take action. Put one foot in front of the other and start making forward progression. Ultimately, it’s action that breeds confidence, and once we see the fruits of our labor, we become truly unstoppable!