Do it scared: Why fear will help your startup succeed

According to Benjamin Franklin, the only certainties are death and taxes. But what the United States of America founding father forgot to consider is fear, which is even more common. Fear can be an everyday state of mind for modern entrepreneurs.

What defines you is how you face it.

If you fear not fulfilling your potential or missing out on the life you were supposed to have or even just starting your business, a simple shift in perspective is all it takes to get many of those fears under control.

Here are some tips.

Don’t avoid your fear — leverage it

Fear exists to keep us safe - there is a reason we don’t jump out of moving vehicles.

The only way to kick-start the prefrontal cortex and return to a state of control and confidence is to master fear and leverage it.

When you make a decision, ask yourself whether it puts you closer to becoming that person you want to be or further away.

Every action you take should stem from that fear, including whether to make a phone call or go to the gym.

When you master that, you won’t even want to overcome your fears because when you do, you lose that leverage.

The tightrope is only inches off the ground

How big of a deal, really, is the thing you’re afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in with everything else we value.

Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes the reality is bad, but often you might find that the fear itself is worse than whatever it is you’re afraid of happening.

The tightrope you’ve been walking is only inches off the ground.

When you realise that, you can walk much faster the next time you’re on a tightrope. By structuring deals so you cannot lose, you can seize opportunities that scared others.

Write it down, then prove it wrong

If you keep a journal, this tip is for you. First, write down what you’re afraid of. “I’ve wasted my life.” “No one cares about me.” “Everyone thinks I’m a big loser.” Whatever your brain is bullying you into believing, get it out of your head and onto paper.

Next, write a rebuttal to your fear. The first time you try this, you might struggle to think of something, but keep trying. Write what your biggest fan would say.

Summon your inner defense attorney to build an argument. Jot down all the evidence that undermines your fear, even if you think it shouldn’t count. Then rinse and repeat. Create a stockpile of counterattacks you can turn to the next time your fear is invoked.

However, if you can’t bear to face your “I suck” fears, or you can’t think of any evidence to the contrary, get a second opinion. You’ve got friends, coworkers, and family members who are just itching to tell you what they think about something, right? Confiding in a person you trust can give you strength you never knew you had.

Do it scared

Each of us dreads an imagined worst-case scenario. The next time you find you’re holding back on something you really want to do because of fear, worry or insecurity, do it scared. Jump in.

We often wait for the perfect time to come along. We look for life to hand us an invitation and to feel easy and comfortable, but we know most rewards in life don’t come without work. No pain, no gain.

If there’s something you want to do and you’re waiting for your fear to pass, suck it up and do it scared. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. The chance of a perfect easy route to present itself is low, so don’t wait. Feel it, move past it and go for it!

Put it into perspective

I’m reminded of an excerpt from 14 Ways To Conquer Fear by Josh Steimle that perfectly summarises how to focus on others as your motivation.

Hyrum Smith, the co-founder of FranklinCovey, once asked a mother in his audience during a presentation if she would be willing to cross a standard metal ‘I beam’ placed from the roof of one skyscraper to another. She said no, she wouldn’t.

He asked her if she would do it for a million dollars, and added that now there was a bit of wind and some raindrops falling. She still wouldn’t. Then he told her to imagine he was holding her child over the edge of the opposite building, and if she wasn’t there in 10 seconds he would drop the child.

What do you think her answer was under those circumstances? Exactly. Who is the most important person in your life? What would overcoming your fear mean to them? How would it impact your life with them? Do it for them.