Fear is underrated. All the great business gurus tell us to blast through fear. Sure, we need to figure out how to manage it and keep going, but sometimes you’re just scared sh**less and you get stopped in your tracks. And I think that is perfectly OK. When I started my private practice I was scared. Scared I wouldn’t be able to find any clients. Scared I wouldn’t do a good job. Scared I’d make no money, go broke, have to sell my house. Really so scared I would FAIL. So for a long time I avoided the scared and worked for others. It was safe, I had a paycheck, there were no administrative demands. I didn’t need to learn anything new. It was safe but I was bored and annoyed that someone else was profiting from my hard work.
It is so easy to get stuck in that place..bored, frustrated, angry that things aren’t different. But that darn fear gets in the way. Stuck.
So I’ll tell you how I side stepped my fear. I didn’t jump over it, victorious like Superman, or plow through it like the Incredible Hulk. I greeted it, said “hello,” walked with it for awhile and then tiptoed around it so I could move on with my life.
I greeted fear
The first step in maneuvering around fear is to acknowledge it. For me this meant sitting in my office saying to myself, “I am stuck here because I’m afraid to take a risk.” I repeated that phrase to myself for many weeks. Hello, fear.
Next, I walked with fear for awhile. Had a metaphorical chat with it, if you will.
Me: “So, yeah, fear. What’s up? I’m stuck in a job I hate and here you are. What do you want?”
Fear: “I want to let you know that you’re safe now and change is hard. Why change when things are safe?”
Me: “Because I’m bored and I want to do more with my life. Actually, I want to build something that’s mine, and do things my way.”
Fear: “OK, but that is hard work.”
Me: “That I am not afraid of. Hard work I can do.”
Fear: “So what are you afraid of?”
Me: “Not knowing what to do…I don’t know how to run a business!”
Fear: “Can you learn how to run a business?”
Me: “Yeah. I’m good at learning. I’ve been in school my whole life, for goodness sakes!”
Fear: “Ok..so you’ll learn about business. What about getting clients?”
Me: “I am wicked afraid that I won’t get clients! Freaked out! With no clients I’d doomed!”
Fear: “Can you learn how to get clients?”
Me: “I guess so, you can do that…learn how to get clients?”
Fear: “Do you have clients now?”
Fear: “Do they like working with you?”
Me: “They keep coming back, so I guess they do like working with me.”
Fear: “Will some of them follow you to a new location?”
Me: “Yes, but is that right to do?”
Fear: “You want to know if you can get clients….Don’t overanalyze.”
Me: “Right…so clients, yes, I can get clients. Because if I have some now and I can learn how to find more, I’ll be ok.”
Fear: “You could fail.”
Me: “I know. I could fail.”
Fear: “What’s more important–always being safe and maybe regretting not trying this new thing, or taking a risk, doing your best and figuring out how to NOT fail?”
Me: ” Uh, taking a risk and trying the new thing?”
Fear: “Not convincing…”
Me: “OK, ok! I need to try the new thing because I don’t like where I am now. Anything is better than this. And if I am an UTTER FAILURE I can always return to this job, or another one that I might like better…..So, I guess I have nothing much to lose, do I? Now, please get out of my way so I can do something and make some changes!”
Fear: “Alright, I will step aside but I will always be here.”
Me: “Good to know because I wouldn’t want to go all rogue and really throw all caution to the wind.”
Fear: “I think we’re done talking…Move along.”
The chat with fear was useful. It took a long time. But I was no longer in a panic, I was sleeping relatively well at night. So my next step was to do all I could to learn about business and attracting clients. The awareness that I could learn about the very thing that provoked my biggest fears was what allowed fear to move aside. Learning is a comfortable action for me. When in doubt, confused or overwhelmed I always default to trying to learn more. But that’s me.
Each of us has to have our own conversation with fear. We need to figure out why it is there and what we need to do to tiptoe past. Maybe it’s finding a mentor, reading a book, running 10 miles, having a chat with a friend, meditating, taking a vacation. You need to chat with your fear and ask.
Ultimately, you will need to do something to move beyond your fear. And I mean anything. Ordering a book, calling a consultant, reading a blog, registering for a course, jotting down notes. The trick is you need to move beyond “stuck” and into “do.”
Fear will still be there, but he’s hanging around to keep you cautious and informed, not to stop you from achieving your goals.
Do you know if fear holds you back? If so, how do you manage it? Are you stuck in “stuck?” How can we help?