“What would XXX think?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
“What if I mess up/fail?”
“What if I lose money?”
What if this? What if that? Fear is normal but we must challenge ourselves to overcome it every once in a while, if we are going to move forward in life.
You cannot go through life living for “what if” scenarios that may never materialise. You have to make the decision to take that bold step at some point in life – maybe not today, but tomorrow perhaps.
Here are 6 fears that kill dreams and how to overcome them.
The fear of beginning
The thought of starting any new journey in life – from starting a new relationship to starting a family to starting a new business is daunting for most people. This fear has hindered many from turning their vision into reality. The fear of starting can manifest as confusion. An aspiring entrepreneur or investor might feel confused and unsure about the first step to take to begin their journey. This uncertainty could lead to a lack of action and ultimately the death of the idea. The best way to overcome this type of fear is to break up the actions that are required for you to achieve your goals into small actionable steps, in order of priority.
In other words, set small goals. Set out to do these seemingly small actions and achieve small wins everyday. This will help build your confidence. These steps can be as simple as speaking to people in the industry to get a better understanding of how the industry works. Taking these actions will help to eliminate your fear of starting and propel you towards realizing your vision.
The fear of failure
The most successful business men and entrepreneurs have had the most epic fails. Steve jobs, Richard Branson, e.t.c. Even the greatest musicians do not always make hit records. We all fail, some of us more spectacularly than others, but we all do, so guess what, YOU, my dear are not alone! Businesses, ideas and products fail for many reasons. The key to overcoming this is to try first and fail – because, guess what? You may not even fail; but if you do, it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Just remember not to let the failure keep you down. Learn from it by asking yourself these questions: what mistakes did I make? why did I make them, what can I learn from them? and what will/can I do differently going forward? For many entrepreneurs, failure is far more acceptable than living with the regret of never trying. It has often been said, failure is not the opposite of success, it is only a bus-stop on the way to success. Just do not make it your own end-stop.
The fear of inadequacy
Many people never move beyond having “great ideas” in their minds because they are overcome by the fear of being inadequate. They keep wondering, “am I smart enough?”, “do I have enough experience?”, “can I handle the pressure?”, e.t.c. Instead of focusing their energy on finding innovative ways to make an idea work, they are focused on all their personal flaws, the flaws in their ideas/products, and their lack of certain talent and ability.
To overcome this fear, you may consider partnering with people who have the skill/talent needed, hiring talent, improving your skill set, learning what you do not know and adopting a positive mindset – give yourself credit for what you can do. No one is ever 100% ready to start a business, nor can anyone foresee every challenge that may arise in a business venture. You have to remain positive and TRY. Get help and with time, confidence and ability will replace your inadequacies.
The fear of taking risks
Psychologically, human beings regard losses as being twice as powerful as gains of the same value. When it comes to risking what we have for what we could have, it is hard to get us motivated. Some would argue that,”a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”, so they would not bother to venture out into the bushes to see if they would find something even more precious than a bird. We tend to think of entrepreneurs as big risk takers. However, the fact is, business owners take calculated risks and accept them not only as part of doing business, but also of living life.
When starting your own business, it is important to research the opportunity thoroughly, ask for help, draft a solid business plan and establish a fallback option for your worst-case scenario. Keep your goals (the potential gains from taking these calculated risks) in mind and keep working toward achieving them. Do not get into any business venture that you do not thoroughly understand. Ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen if I take this risk?” worst case, you fail – big deal! Remember that action is one of the greatest ways to overcome fear.
The fear of people’s opinion
We have all dealt with this fear at different points in our lives. As an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, you must differentiate between the constructive criticism of someone who is knowledgeable and the negativity of someone who is just worried for you because he cannot imagine taking the entrepreneurial plunge himself. Remember that others may not necessarily have your vision, skills and drive, so just because they cannot envision your dream does not mean you cannot make it come true.
Of course it would be nice to have people believe in you and wish you well in all your endeavours, but it is more important for you to believe in yourself and follow your instincts. The truth is that not everyone will see, believe, understand and share your dreams. No matter what you do or how perfect you may be, people will always have their opinions about you – positive or negative. The important thing is to focus on drawing strength from positive opinion/feedback and drawing lessons from constructive criticisms.
The fear of growth
This is a common fear for many entrepreneurs, especially in Nigeria. Having put in the hard work it takes to build a successful business in this country, we tend to get emotionally attached to our business and would rather lose an arm than give up any part of it. Thinking through the stages of a new business—including growth, taking the business to the next level and even succession is important. Always think in terms of returns. It is financially more rewarding and therefore better to own 20% of a company valued at N1billion than to own 100% of a company worth N100million, not to talk about the added bonus of shared risk.
In all, you can be anything you want to be and achieve any level of success you dream of if you get out of your own way. The antidote to fear is faith in yourself, your business, your product and your dream. Fortune favours the bold, so let us get out there and be fearless.
Remember, start now, start small – just do it!
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