As leaders, we often face situations that would scare others and sometimes scare us. By stepping out to create our own businesses, often from scratch, we take big risks and gamble on whether or not what we have to offer will resonate with the world. We are responsible for the performance of our team and often meeting payroll. We are who others look to for ideas and support.
But that doesn’t mean nothing scares us. For most of us, something does. Maybe it’s pitching the business to new clients. Maybe it’s the daunting responsibility for our family or those of the people that work with and for us. Maybe it’s the risk of a new product or business line. Maybe it’s facing the reality that we’ll be successful and our lives will change.
It’s not fashionable to admit to fear, but when faced with it, we can either carry it around with us and waste energy on it, or face it so we can stop being afraid. Here are six strategies for facing it.
1. Chunk it all down
Sometimes fear is really just overwhelm in disguise. Too much to do in too little time with too few resources. So break it all down into the smallest steps and then start with just one step.
2. Determine the worst case
What is the worst possible outcome? Can you live with it? If not, how can you manage or change it?
3. Assess the real risks you can measure
Every situation has risk. Some are unknown, like how others will behave. Some are known, like actual costs. What risks are you facing that you can measure?
4. Manage the risks you can, accept the risks you can’t
Once you have a sense of the known and measurable risks, you can design strategies to manage those risks. But many are unknown or not easily measured. Assess those as best you can and then make a decision about whether you can live with them.
5. Decide to live with and use the fear
Once you identify it and label it, you can manage it. Fear is usually just information, a warning bell. Sometimes warning bells are alarms that require an evacuation of a building, sometimes they are symbols that make sure we check our work and drive us forward. Sometimes a little fear can be exhilarating and motivating. How can you use your fear?
6. Forgive yourself in advance
As leaders we face risks on a regular basis. We mostly believe ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ We live in a culture that fears failure, but sometimes we lose. It’s part of the work. So assume you’ll make some mistakes on the road to success. Know you’ll deal with your mistakes, dust yourself off, and move forward. You can go ahead and forgive yourself now.
Let me know how these strategies work for you!