Be Nervous: What Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Learn by Embracing Fear

“Sometimes it is good to be a little nervous; it brings out the best in you,” 14-year-old Sanjana Khurana pronounced as she prepared to sing the national anthem at a Sage Hill High School event.

Being nervous; to fill your belly full of butterflies is better than to fill your mind with the fear that anchors you in repetition.

As aspiring entrepreneurs, we strive to be confident and sure. We aim to have certainty in a world of uncertainty. It is uncertainty that promises the chance of failure and ignites fear. It is fear that fuels nervousness.

Being nervous is considered a condition that deteriorates confidence and leads to indecisiveness. But, this is false!

We choose to be nervous; to fear the unknown and see uncertainty as the enemy. We choose to fear change. But too often, we forget to choose to use the energy of nervousness to help propel us to get to the next level of our dreams. Being nervous is not the solution. Turning the energy of that nervousness into the antidote of fear, however, is.

Every accomplishment begins with a desire, a little nervousness, some confidence and a clear decision. That includes starting your business.

If you’re able to do something in life that makes you feel nervous, then you’re putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. You’re not playing it safe. You have placed yourself on a path of new experiences, competitive advantages and innovations.

Related: 4 Biggest Challenges Top CEOs Face (and How You Can Overcome Them as an Entrepreneur)

We are fools to strive for certainty and naïve to seek a future free of nervousness. Uncertainty is a fact of life and a reality of entrepreneurship. You are likely afraid of failure, but sometimes of success, too. To ease nervousness in presenting, we practice. To ease nervousness and overcome fear in innovation, we experiment.

Be nervous about business risk and learn to be a risk manager. In this instance, your nervousness is your insurance. As you increase the probability of success by being aware of uncertainties, your confidence soars and your decisions are refined. Fear of change and the unknown chains us to the past and sameness. We are nervous when we rattle this chain. When you get nervous, look back and see the chain that is impeding your movement. Then, break the chain and evolve.

For example, in one of my previous roles, I never found myself nervous. I was firmly chained to corporate sameness and shackled to the knowns of my position. Yes, I would push innovation and creativity every day but I, myself, was not nervous. I now realize this was because I was not pushing myself to the edge of my personal fear. I learned that you may create new products, expand your markets and excel at your job without being nervous. Yet, by doing so, you have compromised your abilities.

You cannot get to your next best version, or grow your company, without pushing against your fears and getting nervous.

When you are able to turn nervousness into confidence, then you are able to enhance your plans, improve your decisions and execute your startup’s goals more effectively. Every entrepreneur has to face the challenge of execution. Nervousness is manifested only when a plan or a dream is about to be tested and achieved.

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To turn the energy of your nervousness in to a force, you must come to some realizations:

  1. If you are not nervous, you are not pushing the envelope
  2. Nervousness is not a condition of excitement. If you are excited, you are more focused on celebrating than learning, adjusting and improving. Get excited to face your fears, then focus on overcoming them. Only then should you be excited and celebrate your victory
  3. There is nothing wrong with being nervous. Being nervous is not being negative, it is being battle ready

The young lady who inspired this article realized that you are nervous when something important is happening. She realized that if something is worth doing, it is worth being nervous about. If you are not nervous, you are not pushing the envelope, you are not taking chances and you are not pushing against fear and the unknown.

If you are not nervous, the challenge is either not worthy or you are intentionally playing below your potential. Play the game of entrepreneurship at your potential and not at the limit of your fear.

Be a little nervous. You deserve more.

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