To our ancestors, fear was a fundamental survival tool. A caveman that wasn’t scared was soon a dead caveman.
Flashback. You and your cave-buddy hear a rustle in the bushes. You think it might be a sabretooth tiger, so you run away. Your friend thinks it might not be a sabretooth tiger and he gets eaten by a sabretooth tiger.
Fear is good if you use it right.
Are you scared?
Do you know what I’m afraid of? Missing out on opportunities. Acting too slow. Regretting my inaction.
I’m happy to admit that I have fear. I use it to my advantage.
I constantly have a vision of a better, brighter future for myself and my family. I know what it will look like and feel like. And I’m afraid to miss out on it.
When I sense a business opportunity is upon me, I fear I’ll make the wrong move. Maybe I’ll act too late, too soft or too aggressively. I’m scared that chance will evaporate.
Harnessing that fear, I do everything I can to make sure failure doesn’t happen.
What are you scared of?
If you are just starting out, poised to make your first move as an entrepreneur, I’ve been where you are. I know how you feel.
You have a regular job, and it’s providing you with the basics. Jumping out as an independent business person is risky. You could make less money than you do now or even end up in tremendous debt.
You’re like a caveman living in a small valley with limited resources. You can stay where you are and soon consume all the food around you, then starve.
Or, seeking a better life, you can journey into the unknown with only your skills, hunger and confidence.
It’s frightening, but that’s how the world was populated.
Should you invest your savings or even borrow money to launch a business? Can you quit your job and make a daring move to the next level?
Fear works both ways
Afraid to lose the comfort you have, you can stay still. Keep working your ordinary job. Continue living an average existence. Fear losing that stability.
Afraid to never have the life of your dreams, you can make bold moves. Build a business outside your ordinary job. Stop being content with an average existence. Fear never jumping at the chance.
How do you shut off fear? By being comfortable with less. Yes, I travel first class, stay in nice hotels and drive a sweet car. But if I lost it all I’d still have my wife, kids, and friends. That’s okay with me.
I don’t fear loss.
Researchers have proven that the fear to fail is five times greater than the ambition to do better. That means most people will not strive for a better life, fearing to lose what little they have.
Only a fraction of the population will make the scary move toward a better, brighter future.
People don’t act because they’re scared of losing what they have. They should act because they’re scared of missing a bigger opportunity.
The Art of War
Although many people are not fully in touch with their emotions, the world of business has always been populated with hardened fighters.
They call themselves warriors. Companies battle with each other. Corporate heads read Sun Tzu’s Art of War and run their businesses like armies.
They’re afraid to die a dishonorable business death.
Yet, people don’t always recognize their emotions. They don’t understand what makes them move or makes them hesitate.
Fear is a good thing if it doesn’t debilitate you. Fear should drive you away from the stagnant, average and mundane. You should be afraid of a poor future, and it should push you to prevent that failure.
I’m afraid, and I admit it because I use it to my advantage.
I’m afraid to not create that better, brighter future for myself.
Small Fish, Small Pond
Maybe you’re okay with being a comfortable little fish, if we can step away from the caveman metaphor for a minute.
You swim around in a familiar space with known predators. You’re familiar with that puddle and can survive there.
Swimming upstream into the big unknown is scary. Who knows what monsters lurk out there, ready to snap you up?
But consider the chances, the opportunities, and the feasts. Fish grow to fit their environments. Big waters yield big fish. In the open ocean, who knows what you could achieve?
Be afraid, but recognize it and make it work for you.
Be scared that one day you’ll look up and opportunity has passed you by while you did nothing.
Photo: Getty Images