Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jacquette M. Timmons.
It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur, business owner, or leader. Or, as is often described here at Productive Flourishing… to be a Creative Giant.
And by special, I don’t mean in the “snowflake, handle with kid gloves” way. More like, “Who in the world chooses to show up relentlessly willing to deal with uncertainty, doubt, and fear, and willing to have their strength, confidence, and bravery tested — every. single. day?”
Well, you do!
Sure, one could argue that bravery and fear are simply the human experience. But, as an entrepreneur myself, I can say, from both first-hand experience and work with my clients as a behavioral-focused financial coach, that entrepreneurship amplifies the above-noted emotions.
Because, after all, everything is on you.
Failure is on you. Success is on you. Creating your vision is on you. Doing the work is on you. Getting clients and customers is on you. Hiring a team to help you do the work is on you. Making tough decisions is on you, as are the easy ones. Creating systems and processes for more growth and more impact…on you.
And thank goodness you do what you do, anyway.
I may not know your personal details — or what inspired your body of work, however you deliver it. But I am going to suspect (even if you create widgets) that it, in some way, expresses your deepest convictions.
That conviction is probably what motivates you. It is also what keeps you going when you sometimes question your aptitude and fortitude to tackle the roadblocks you encounter.
2020 & You
Given the nature of my work with consumer and corporate clients, I think about the role of entrepreneurship in our lives and the economy all the time. But with 2020 just around the corner, it is beginning to consume even more of my mind-space.
Why? Because, as it stands now, and according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ approximately 57 million people. (For a visual, imagine every small business being located throughout the state of California.) Add to that the estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that 43% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020. Now, couple the aforementioned with the recent rebound in venture capital investing. The trifecta is a clear signal that the growth of entrepreneurship is stronger than ever.
It’s also a signal that it’s a good time to (re)visit two aspects of every entrepreneur’s life and business and, in the process, perhaps expand your definition and experience of them: bravery and fear.
Make Fear Your Friend
I know, I know, as a culture, we talk about fear all the time. It somewhat consumes us. Understandably so, because we are all afraid of something.
On any given day, you might be afraid of:
- losing clients;
- running out of money;
- failing employees and possibly investors;
- disappointing your family;
- making the wrong decision;
- miscalculating your opportunity costs;
- not having the discernment to know when to cut your losses vs. when to readjust and keep forging ahead;
- success and the newfound responsibilities that come with it;
While the above are examples of different “types” of fear, it is their ramifications that are the real issues. Like a potential bankruptcy; or a hit to your livelihood; or a public backlash; or evidence of poor strategic planning and execution.
Most people talk about those fears as things to avoid or suppress. Not me. I treat fear the same way the Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, suggests we relate to pain — as an invitation to get curious and explore.
As weird as it may sound, can you imagine having a conversation with fear so that when it (inevitably) raises its head, you say, “What do you want me to pay attention to?” Or, “What risks are you wanting me to notice?”
Believe it or not, I learned this fear #hack by way of check-out dives for my scuba certification many years ago. If you’re unfamiliar, to get certified, you must complete seven open water dives over the course of a few days. I did mine in beautiful Tortola, BVI.
My first dive went really well; my second…not so much. As soon as I hit the water from my backward flip, my mask came off, and I became discombobulated. I became afraid of continuing. It was as if the classroom and pool training I had done eight weeks prior to prepare for this moment vanished. I seemed to forget the skills I had learned and the preliminary tests I had passed.
Lucky for me, I had an amazing dive master. She got me calm and through my second dive. When we surfaced and got back onboard she said, “…It’s a good thing that happened to you. Because the day you get on a boat and you aren’t a little bit afraid, is the day you shouldn’t go diving.”
Her advice is brilliant for diving — and for business.
Her words taught me to (a) not get too cocky with my skills and confidence, and (b) change my view of fear. Being afraid doesn’t mean you are weak; it means you’re being smart. As it pertains to scuba diving, it prompted me to double check my gear to make sure everything was working as it should. (Something I didn’t do for my second dive!)
When it comes to business, if you fear losing clients, what are you doing right now to ensure that doesn’t happen? If you fear running out of money, what are you doing to both ensure you’re allocating the resources you currently have in the best way possible AND bring in more money? I could go on, but you get the gist.
Here’s my point:
Let the fear lead you to more and possibly better questions to ask. Sometimes, the answers you get will lead you to stop or prompt you to go in a different direction. At all times, the answers will lead you to more insight, strategic action, and/or improved structure, systems, and support.
Wherever there is fear, bravery is in the mix. And not just in those dramatic moments. (Think: “the young man in Paris who tapped into his inner ‘Spider-Man’ and scaled a building to rescue a toddler dangling from a balcony.”)
But in the micro, non-glamorous decisions that you make daily and likely dismiss as “no big thing.”
Bravery emerges every time you place that call or send that email asking for the business.
Bravery emerges every time you “ship” something that isn’t perfect, but gets the ball rolling.
Bravery emerges every time you acknowledge your weaknesses and insecurities, or every time you acknowledge what you don’t know or have — and ask for help.
Bravery emerges every time you show up to take the next step — whatever that may be.
Bravery emerges every time you reach a new level of success and you pause to consider what new emotional, financial, and maybe even spiritual responsibilities you’ll need to cultivate.
Bravery emerges every time you move beyond your comfort zone.
As an entrepreneur, you face some sort of fear every day. Some days more acutely than others. You also practice acts of bravery everyday. Therefore, it is time to purposefully embrace this intersection. (Tweet this.)
The intersection of bravery and fear is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and connection — both with your business and the clients/customers you serve.
This intersection is complex and emotional, yet absolutely beautiful. (At least it can be… eventually.)
It is where you will discover a new comfort zone, and will learn even more about your strengths and inner wisdom.
The intersection of bravery and fear is where you’ll always find the seedlings for your success — if you remain open and curious.
Yes, it does take a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur, business owner, or leader. And it is the person who embraces the intersection of bravery and fear, recognizing how it impacts your motivation, decision-making, and behavior as you express your deepest convictions through your body of work.
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