One of my great joys in life is mentoring young entrepreneurs. One of the young entrepreneurs I’ve been mentoring sent me an email with the subject line “Being real”. In her note, she expressed battling doubts, fears and uncertainty as she moved forward with her venture. With her permission, I’m sharing a portion of her email and my response to her.
A snippet of her note:
I am okay that this is a part of the process and I am ultimately growing. I just don’t want to get stuck in a phase of this process due to fear. I think I am still struggling with actually believing in myself (not my inherent worth, but my capabilities as the container/messenger of this movement.) I have this fear that no one will follow me or be interested as I pursue this.
So my question is, what did you do when you were in a time of life where you didn’t believe in yourself? Are there any activations that I can submit myself to in order to be strengthened to trust the container that I am?
My response to her:
First, thank you for being so vulnerable. As Brene Brown says, “vulnerability is the greatest act of courage”. So being vulnerable with how you feel is already a sign of bravery!
The entrepreneur life is the acceptance of fear, not the absence of it. This took me a long time to understand. I used to say that I wake up terrified everyday, then talk myself out of it! Then I realized how foolish that was and how much energy it was sucking up battling fear. Now, I just accept FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) as part of the entrepreneur’s life.
Fear is always there because our ego loves to be in survival/scarcity mode. It wants you to feel safe and secure – even when it’s not all that safe and secure! The real safety and security is moving forward with a calling to do what is asked of you. Nothing is more secure than that unbreakable rope of faith!
The only cure for doubt and fear (any form of a lack of confidence) is action. As you take steps forward in action, your confidence will grow. In short, you don’t wait for confidence. You act and confidence follows.
A few specific tools for dealing with fear:
- Acknowledge their existence but treat fears like a fog not a barrier. This allows you to pass through the fog to the other side.
- Challenge fears and doubts. Ask them questions like “What is the source of this?” and “What are you doing here?” If they are real fears, you will be able to take action on them. If they are false (which most are), they will dissipate.
- Express your fears. Find someone you trust and pour out to them. When expressed, all fears shrink or disappear. Like warm sunlight erasing the fog mentioned above.
- Be aware of where you feel the fear in your body. If it’s in your head, it’s 99% not real. If it’s in your heart or another part of your body, you need to tune in and listen for a bit. There may be a hidden lesson in the fear you have been missing.
In the moments of heightened levels of anxiety, there’s a great Navy SEAL exercise to do:
- Calm your breathing – this will get you present and empower you. What’s more powerful than control your own life force!
- Visualize success – create a picture in your mind of what’s on the other side of the fear, anxiety, doubt
- Use positive language – words are extraordinarily powerful; especially self talk. So change your language you use with yourself and others.
- Take action – determine the next 3 – 5 steps and then act on them!
Most of all, go to the heart. That’s where your calling is stored. That’s where you will find courage and strength.