PERSPECTIVE ON FEAR
“You were supposed to bring 12’ pieces of rope, not 8’.”
Four feet doesn’t seem like much. But when you fear heights like I do, and the cable route up the Half Dome stares you in the face while your two sons, whom you promised your wife you would protect, stand nearby, and eight feet means they cannot tie the three of you off as safely as the others in the trek, four feet means failure.
I contemplated telling my two sons we were not going up, that’s how afraid I was.
I knew that would make me a jerk, but at least I would be an alive jerk with two alive sons. Thankfully one of the scouts showed us another knot needing much less rope, and after tugging on the knot for dear life, I let go of some of the angst.
We survived the climb.
In hindsight we laugh at my fear: at least one-third of all the climbers on the route did so without any safety ropes. My youngest son made the descent on the outside of the cables, clipped in only because I threatened him.
The climb revealed fear’s grip on my perspective. It sucked much of the joy of the last part of the trek right out of me. All I could see was my body bouncing off the rocks on the way down.
Fear Is Also Your Friend
Like much of life, fear works both ways. In startup situations, fears become your friend. They often focus you on solutions.
Rather than belittle your fears, treat them like best friends. Turn the tables on them. No need to emasculate them at this stage, leverage them. They will clarify where you need help, either make it obvious where you need to overcome a fear emotionally or bridge a gap intellectually.
If I am afraid we might run out of money prematurely, I probably need to sit down with a money person and talk through different options. I would be stupid to ignore that fear.
If I am afraid the community will not support this new center, I might want to sit down with some key holders and get their thoughts. I would be stupid to ignore that fear.
If I am afraid I will lose the house because my startup might fail, I might want to talk this over with my spouse and see if she is okay with the risk. I would be really, really stupid to ignore that fear.
Common Startup Fears
- There won’t be enough money.
- I won’t be able to find the right people.
- It can’t be done.
- It’s not going to work.
- If this doesn’t work, my reputation will be trashed.
- I won’t be able to find another job.
- We won’t be able to pay the bills.
- My kids will hate me.
- My spouse will never forgive me.
- Others in my field (pastors, business leaders, non-profit leaders) will disown me.
Fears help us focus on the areas we need to address. They identify where knowledge is missing. They push us to discover ways around or through.
This post is an excerpt from Seven Steps to Start.
BY BILL WOOLSEY
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