Overcoming Fear In Your Startup

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Overcoming Fear In Your Startup

September 24, 2015No Comments

A little departure today from the usual marketing and branding discussion.
Because of our focus on startups, personalities and movements, I find that my role with my client is part strategy and part cheerleader.
So today, I want to share some strategies for overcoming fear.
Actually, overcoming is the wrong word, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

One of the things I encounter a lot with my clients is fear.
At some point, every entrepreneur, every creative, every personality encounters the devil inside.
The devil whispers into your ear and heart and mind, it’s like an ear worm that wiggles its way into your project and creates self doubt.

I’m not a therapist or a life coach, I’m giving this advice because I’ve helped many people through it and most honestly, from a place of “I’ve been there.”
I’ve started 3 businesses in my life, and recently, re-branded the third.
I know fear. I know fear intimately.
I’ve been living and feeding off of fear almost my entire career.
And for the most part, when I’ve harnessed my fear, it’s been my bitch.
That’s not to say I’m never afraid. Oh, no, do NOT misunderstand me.
But fear is so powerfully positive when it’s directed appropriately.
So the advice I give to others on this topic is advice I give myself.

The typical advice is to push that fear down.
Ignore it.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all.
And here’s why:
YOU can use IT.
You don’t need to OVERCOME FEAR, you need to HARNESS FEAR.
Fear can be the thing that propels you through the hardest part of your project.
You can use fear like a shot in the butt.
Fear is the thing that gives you the adrenaline you NEED to stay up late,  get up early, come up with the next best idea.
In fact, I’d go so far to say if you’re not feeling a LITTLE bit of fear, you’re not fully vested.
So why NOT harness the fear and make it a positive as opposed to a negative?

Here are some tips on harnessing fear for different types of fear.

 

Fear of (In)Authenticity

Chances are, as you go through your product or persona, you’ll polish and change it.
Then all of a sudden one day, you’ll wake up and think “Is THIS what I really meant it to be?”
Have I polished and perfected so much that I’m no longer presenting the product as I meant it to be?
When this happens, go through your earliest notes, emails and brainstorms.
Check yourself. See if the process still seems authentic and real as a journey and evolution.
This happens A LOT in marketing and branding. Suddenly, someone is marketing your idea as something totally different than you originally envisioned.
Personalities experience this a lot too. What’s the difference between sharing everything and creating an authentic persona?
You CAN have an authentic voice without giving up your original vision. It IS possible.
Every single project is going to have a pivot point, a path of departure, a choice you made.
Take your pulse here and make sure that the path of departure still seems important and real and helpful.
AND that  the changes you made a long the way were well thought out, strategic and intentional.
If so, then use your fear to reconfirm you’re on the right track. Taking your own pulse once in awhile is a good thing. It’s what KEEPS it real.
If you find that you’ve lost your way, go back and find the point of departure and look at what you can do to reinject your original vision into the plans you have today.
Chances are you’re not as far off the path as you thought you were, but doing the exercise will put you back in touch with your original vision and allow you to reconfirm your original intent.
You’ll find that once you allow yourself to get back in touch with your original intent, then it will be clarifying to you and everyone around you.

 

Fear of Launch

This fear is the one that wakes you up in the middle of the night right before you’re ready to launch and says “YOU’RE NOT READY.”
First of all, let’s face it, a lot of this particular fear is about rejection. “What if I put something out there and no one bites. Or worse, they HATE it.”
Here’s the deal: put your heart and soul into something, stay committed to it and I guarantee you SOMEONE will love it.
That’s not to say that the love doesn’t take work to earn. That’s not to say that the love comes on YOUR timeline.
It is to say, let go of the idea of rejection. You can LEARN from rejection. You can shift, reinvent and accomplish based on rejection.
Rejection is NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
How can you HARNESS this to make your product launch better?
This is the stage that’s sort of like the night before a big college exam.
If you’ve done ALL the preparation you need to do, then use the fear to zero in on the 1 or 2 areas where you feel weakness, then you can use fear to focus on small, but relevant improvements.
Once you go through those 1 or 2 areas that you’re fearful about, and solve for them, you’ll feel more confident and your launch will be better.

 

Fear of Perfection

This fear is closely related to Fear of Launch, but it’s slightly different.
Here’s the one thing you need to know about Fear of Perfection: use it, abuse it and throw it away.
Nothing in the history of humans has ever reached perfection. Nothing.
If you let perfection dominate your launch and outlook, you’ll be forever paralyzed.
Do the best you can and if you have to touch more than three times, you’re allowing the fear of perfection dominate you.
Three times. That’s it. That’s all you get. Make ’em count.
That’s how you harness this fear.

Fear of Reinvention

This is the fear that says “it’s already been done before.”

I’m super intimate with this fear. I have several projects on the shelf suffering from this as we speak.
But here’s the deal with this fear: it’s total bullshit.
Because no one has done it the way YOU would do it.
Think about authors. If they said “I want to write a mystery novel, but someone’s already written that.” There sure wouldn’t be very much to read would there?
Every single one of us is inspired along the way by products, pieces of art, text, that us and millions of others have seen.
But YOU have a unique way of seeing it. It’s the unique vision, that unique voice that you have to offer.
Your take on the world is singular and interesting and unique.
In fact, chances are, no matter WHAT your building, creating and doing someone else is or has done it.
So sit down and think about your unique perspective. Clear your mind of everyone else’s vision, spend some time on YOUR vision, your voice.
I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again – the ONLY thing unique you have to offer is YOU.
So take a deep breath and use fear to clarify what makes you and your perspective unique.

Harness your fear and make it work for you.
Keep putting one foot in front of another.
One step at a time.
When you fell fear and anxiety creeping in, don’t look at the marathon, look at the next block.
Again, it’s not about overcoming fear, it’s about harnessing it.

I’d really love to hear how you have found ways to harness your fears and make it work for you.
Comment or send me a tweet!

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