What does fear look like?
For me, it is something as simple as this: after moving to Berlin, it took me 2 weeks before I dared entering the bakery next door and order breakfast.
When I move to a new place, everything feels foreign and a bit scary at the beginning. When I’m scared, I create stories along the lines of “anyways, I’m sure there is nothing that I like in this bakery. Also, I don’t speak German and I’m sure the lady doesn’t speak English”. I convince myself it is better I don’t try.
So how did I break the story?
I went in with a friend. Because we went in together, I was able to speak German and ordered my coffee and croissant (no big deal, duh!). The simple fact that I knew someone was on my side gave me enough courage to face my fear.
This story repeats itself over and over in life whenever I’m confronted with something new. Fear shows up the second I’m about to do something I’ve never done before, even when I know it’s something I would enjoy.
The experience at the bakery can be applied the same way in business. So often when we’re doing something new, fear comes up. We create stories that prove why we “shouldn’t” do it, or why it’s not the right time. Some common excuses we come up with are:
I’ll do it later.
I don’t know how to do it.
I don’t know who to ask for help.
But the truth is: I AM TOO SCARED TO DO IT.
In the years I've worked on my fears I’ve learnt a couple of things.
My dreams are on the other side of my fears.
Fear shows me the way. If something doesn’t scare me, that means I don’t really care about doing it. So, fear is a compass that points me to where I really want to go and what I really want to do.
I am able to be scared AND act at the same time. In fact, as soon as I’ve done the scary thing, it becomes easier. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. So much so, that what used to be my biggest fears are now my favourite activities.
When I’m scared about something, I know I can handle it. It may sound counter-intuitive but I’m never scared about something I’m not able to do. NEVER. It may seem like too big to do, but deep down, I’ve developed this trust that if I can fear it, I can make it.
When I ask people what their biggest dream is and they reply “build something on my own”, my next question always is “why haven’t you done it already?”. The most common answers I get is:
I don’t know what I want to build.
I don’t have the money.
I am scared to fail.
The first two answers are excuses. The third answer is closer to the truth.
WE ARE SO SCARED TO FAIL that we prefer not even trying in the first place.
What if I fail to build my dream? This is what is stopping us.
I hear you. I understand all of it. I have so much compassion for you.
I am still in fear every day while I’m building my dream. Fear is what almost made me stop creating my first company. Back then I thought:
I am not clever enough to build something on my own.
I don’t know where to start.
I have no money, how am I going to pay my rent?
I can’t do it alone.
NO! The truth was: I have a big dream in my heart but I’m way too scared to try because if I fail I think I would be destroyed.
What made me do it anyways was the help I got from people. At the time, I felt that I was going to jump off a cliff and crash. But there was one element that made me trust I could do it: people's support.
I enrolled in a program and got help from mentors. I met other entrepreneurs who were in the same boat as me and could relate to my fears, and - most importantly - I started the company with somebody I trusted.
Just like going inside the bakery got easier when I felt the presence of someone well-meaning and strong by my side, I needed the same feeling when I started my company.
Asking for help and surrounding yourself with mentors, friends (who are also entrepreneurs) and following a program were the game-changer in starting my business. If you are tethering on the edge of following your heart and taking the first step towards building the business of your dreams, my advice is: surround yourself with the people who have done what you want to do and ask for their help.
And just remember this: we are all scared to do something we’ve never done before. But we are also willing to help someone who is scared to do the things we’ve done before. At least I am.