Fear And Emotion In Business: Why Mindset is Everything
I grossly underestimated and romanticized what it would take to start my own business.
I am now in active recovery and am seriously considering starting my own 12-step program for entrepreneurs. ;)
I used to be gripped by fear almost weekly.
I felt the pressure that came along with being responsible for and to other people, especially the ones who believed in me and my vision for my business venture.
I feared disappointing myself.
I feared disappointing the people that believe in me.
I feared doing all of that work and making huge sacrifices relationally, financially, and physically to turn around and have it fail (always a possibility).
I had fears. Of course, I did. And sometimes still do.
And yet, I worked through the fear. I adopted an almost “see if you can break me” attitude because the one reason to actually push forward is more compelling than all of the reasons not to: because the need to realize my vision wouldn't leave me alone.
Several years ago when I stepped away from my corporate gig and ventured out to start my own business, I tried to anticipate all of the things that might be challenging - like any entrepreneur does - things like convincing people to give you lots of money for your business idea (which means building a case for yourself and documenting everything you have done from the time you were a fetus until now - and it is an exhausting process!).
We spend a lot of time trying to prepare ourselves.
We try to anticipate how creating our brand and vision might be challenging.
We try to envision how you’ll manage socials and funnels and email automation and website and marketing and..and..and...
But, for me, none of those things was overly challenging …the hard stuff wasn’t what I anticipated would be hard at all.
For me, the hard stuff was all that goes on inside - the mentally exhausting and emotionally draining stuff.
And even as I type this I know that nothing, in and of itself, is emotionally draining; it only becomes draining when I assign emotion to it. And yet, I assigned emotion to almost everything.
I would take things personally when they weren’t personal at all.
I would see the hurdles in getting people to fund my business as a lack of belief in me and as a personal attack on my character.
I would focus on my potential competition and feel anxiety instead of seeing the bigness of my own vision.
I would even allow the voices of the one or two nay-sayers to carry so much weight they would drown out the voices of the dozens of people who were cheering me on.
About every 2 weeks or so, the constant output of emotion and mental energy on the wrong things would become too much and I would have hours or days of feeling completely overwhelmed and depleted.
I would altogether lose sight of my inner drive because I was drowning in the overwhelmed.
I would open up to my family (who would try to put everything in perspective) but when you are that overwhelmed, words often get lost.
After a couple of months of this cycle and numerous conversations with my mentor- a very successful, experienced businessman and friend whom I trust and respect deeply, he said something one afternoon that completely wrecked me.
He said: “Cate, I am watching you navigate this entrepreneur thing and I know you have it in you to kill it (his language for success) but I am genuinely concerned that you are spending your emotional energy on useless things and that when it really matters-you won’t have anything left”.
I didn’t say much in response and probably got defensive with the little that I did say, but deep down I knew he was right. I knew that if I couldn’t manage my emotions and discern where they would best be spent, I would be the author of my own failure.
To complicate things further, I had this habit of trying to do everything on my own. I didn’t like to outsource anything. And it wasn’t because I believed I could do everything better than others, it was because if I admitted I need to outsource something, I felt inadequate; like I should have somehow been born an expert on all things.
It's an unreasonable expectation but it was real for me.
It was a pride issue that didn't serve me well and one I was able to let go of a few years ago.
I am learning (albeit, slowly) to be excellent at what I am excellent at…and to outsource everything else.
My mentor has taught me that you can outsource just about anything.
You can outsource marketing, strategic planning, copywriters, grant applications, or someone to manage a challenging contractor.
You can even outsource someone to help create your brand and vision if you can articulate what it is you want to create.
But what you can never outsource is you – and only you know the intricacies of your vision. Only you can make the decisions that will ultimately actualize that vision…and if you are tapped emotionally and mentally, you compromise all of that. You have undermined your capacity to perform at your highest level.
And that is what so many of us do… until a wise person shows us a better way.
Go find yourself that kind of mentor and save yourself the unreasonable fee I will be charging for my new, 12-step program. ;)