“The only constant in life is change.” You’ve probably heard this innumerable times. But, if change is the only constant in life, why are we professionals so bad at coping with it?
Well, the answer lies in one term: fear.
Fear is something of a taboo in today’s culture. Nobody wants to acknowledge it. But it exists in each of us in one form or another. What is challenging is that fear has an ever-changing form.
Since it’s not a product of life but of the mind, it’ll not cease to exist until one takes control of the mind.
Fears, in hindsight, invariably seem insignificant. That should tell you that fears, no matter how insurmountable they may appear today, are simply a projection of your state of mind. So take charge rather than let the fears drown you.
Every entrepreneurial experience is a rollercoaster ride full of highs and lows, with fear as an inevitable passenger.
Leaders constantly find themselves in the headlights of trepidation, be it the fear – of bankruptcy, of securing an upcoming proposal, or of a merger/acquisition. Therefore, accepting your fear and understanding how to approach it is crucial. The idea is not to appear fearless but to convert your fear into a catalyst.
While fear has an apocalyptic connotation, this is not necessarily the case in business. In reality, fear is frequently an apex juncture with the potential to propel a business to the next level.
There are two perspectives to view fear from:
FEAR: Forget everything and run.
FEAR: Face everything and RISE.
It’s all in your mind, and the choice rests with you.
If you let fear rule your decisions, you will find yourself repeatedly setting limits that may keep you safe. This safety comes at the cost of progress because of the restricted sphere of experience it permits.
The win is in facing reality head-on and embracing change.
So, how do we do it as entrepreneurs? How do we empower our employees to conquer fear?
Let us look at a few fears we are sure to encounter in our entrepreneurial voyage and see how we can mitigate them.
Fear of success
Fear of success entails being apprehensive of accomplishment, frequently to the extent that people deliberately ruin their chances to succeed. It is critical to know that it is not success that individuals fear but the impact of repercussions of the accomplishment.
While success is positive, it brings a set of renewed expectations, which forms the root of apprehension in people. Living up to high expectations often takes sacrifices or enduring losses, which scares people. Entrepreneurs often choose the path of caution and take a hit on growth.
How can you conquer it?
Be mindful of your words at work and with your employees. Does it elevate you or impair you?
For a second, stop and reflect on whether the things you believe keep you secure in reality trap you.
Being conscious of this will empower you to break from it.
Another key point to remember is that you’re not alone. Battling success anxiety in yourself or your employees can be very challenging. To mitigate the challenge, seeking counsel from a business coach/executive coach can help find the right tools to address the fear.
Fear of failure
Failure appears to be the worst of all fears. Failure invokes images of excruciating shame and the agony of losing everything. However, fear of failure is often fueled by fear of loss of pride.
If we fail, we believe we will be the focus of criticism from family, peers and critics.
Well, hold the thought. Let us, instead, weigh the following two questions: Will you regret letting go of this opportunity in the future, say 2-3 years out? What is the worst that can happen even if you fail?
If you do not venture, you have already failed. If you try and fail, you learn what to avoid doing.
Successful people face the same issues and struggles as those who are less successful. The distinction between the two is how they cope with their fears. There is no businessperson who has not battled the vagaries of business, times when everything goes awry. The distinction between the successful and not-so-successful ones is that the former dusted their trousers and kept pushing, focused on results, while the latter gave up.
How can you conquer it?
Fear is just misleading information that appears legitimate because an afraid mind alters the rationale to accommodate the fear.
You need to look the fear in the face and venture out of your comfort zone. You will often realize the fear was baseless and, on other occasions, how well you can think on your feet in tricky situations. Work on being tough and building tenacity so that you can pick yourself up regardless of your fears and get back on track.
Another way to combat fear is to have a plan B for every ace plan you have. Perceive the risk of failure as a chance to attempt something new. Having a fallback gives the assurance to take the plunge.
There are no excuses for giving in; there are only outcomes. Giving in to your fears will stump growth. Remember, no progress comes from avoiding unchartered paths.
Fear of disapproval
The need for acceptance in the business world is as important as in personal relationships. If approval from others determines your self-esteem, you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that others are constantly judging you, and you have to measure up to that judgement.
In truth, the need for acceptance keeps you from achieving your personal and professional goals.
The aggressive/defensive boundaries you build to insulate yourself from criticism obstruct your ability to engage with others. They stifle your creativity and originality and add frustration. Your state of mind and performance reflect what others say or feel rather than a product of your uniqueness.
Giving in to the fear of disapproval will kill enthusiasm and take away your focus from your goals toward things you believe will win you approval.
To snap out of it, you need to cease pleasing everybody; instead, develop a laser focus on your mission and pursue it.
How can you conquer it?
Develop your self-control abilities. By acknowledging the anxiety that makes you question your skills, you can assertively take measures for positive and insightful reasoning.
Rather than dodging events where you presume a rejection, put yourself forth and confront your fears.
As familiarity with confronting your fear grows and positive results emerge, the stress will ebb. You’ll also get more assurance in your ability to accomplish goals.
For strength to battle this fear, you will need support. As entrepreneurs, it can be challenging to ask for emotional/social support. A mentor or a business coach can come in handy to help you with the initial speed bumps.
Fear of change
Uncertainty manifests in the brain as an imperfection, imbalance or pressure that needs redress before one may feel at ease again.
Transition, in general, is daunting. In truth, our brains are hardwired to resist change. As they say, a known devil is better than the unknown; we humans love the comfort and security of the known. We dismiss progress because it threatens the status quo, our comfort zone. However, complacency immobilizes us from making a move to progress.
Change usually entails stepping into unfamiliar territory. The suspense about what will happen ahead may be highly catastrophic since it can tax cognitive capacity, reduce attention span, undermine productivity and cause disengagement.
How can you conquer it?
Everyone deals with change uniquely, each moving at a different pace as they adjust to the individual degrees of uncertainty and ambiguity. Recognizing your discomfort level is one of the most effective things you can do while coping with the fear of transformation.
We frequently envisage worst-case scenarios to resist change, yet, this is seldom the case. Make an effort to articulate the realities while attempting to lessen workplace fear of change.
Concentrating on the facts is a significant step toward conquering your anxiety about change. Rather than suppressing the fear, conquer it by being flexible and ready to consider unexpected challenges, projects and duties that correspond with the unfolding transitions. Sustain high-level productivity and participation by actively engaging and concentrating your energy on constructing innovative routines.
Adopt an excited and anticipatory mentality. Accept change as a chance to participate in new initiatives and teams.
Fear of imperfection
Perfection is a two-edged blade. On the one hand, it might push you to perform well and produce high-quality results. On the other hand, it may cause you to delay action in search of perfection, resulting in missed opportunities. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from getting started.
Establishing a company is a vulnerable, terrifying, flawed journey requiring nimbleness to pivot in response to change. If perfection is your obsession, you may end up perfecting and never making a move.
Make a choice: a plethora of lessons on your journey to attaining perfection or no action in pursuit of perfection?
If you view your entrepreneurial activities as an imperfect journey packed with lessons, setbacks and changes, you’ll be more likely to sustain and even relish the experience. It releases you from the fear of imperfection.
How can you conquer it?
If knowledge or competence is an area of concern, address it by either ramping up your learning or hiring an expert in the domain. All issues may not have this straight and simple resolution; having a coach who can be your best and worst friend, zero into your fears and help you design a route that assists you in addressing them effectively may be the way to go for a sustained resolution.
And lastly, don’t let fear drive you to doubt your capabilities and out on opportunities. Have faith in yourself, your business intuition and your goals.
To sum up
Fears are a natural part and parcel of our life. The first step to taking away the power of fear is to address the elephant in the room and accept the fear.
Remember, we do not need to fight every battle alone. No matter at what stage of your professional journey you are at, it is OK to seek help.
For entrepreneurs seeking help to manage and address their fears, business coaches make for a good helping hand. Backed up by experience and proven strategies, they not only help entrepreneurs recognize their fears but create tailored plans in line with their goals to mitigate their fears and charter the winning path.
For employees, hiring an executive coach or an L&D specialist would help restore their self-esteem, upskill and conquer their fears, helping them contribute effectively to the organization’s growth and development.