How to Stay Fearless
Where others see the dark, uncertain void of the unknown, entrepreneurs see a vacuum alight with possibilities, just waiting to be filled. As a result, we face a constant outside barrage of "That's crazy." To swim upstream against that flood of doubt takes resilience, tenacity, and a volume of faith in your ideas that some might call delusional.
Fear is the enemy of that faith. Now, amidst the daily demands of running your business, are you still as fearless as the day you first said, "Yes, I'm doing this?"
An elite athlete runs practice drills a thousand times to build up muscle memory; an entrepreneur can strengthen fearlessness. In case yours has gotten out of shape, use these techniques to work out this essential entrepreneurial muscle:
- Force yourself to leave.
Creativity needs unique space to grow. Whether you step outside or simply depart from your routine, you need to get out of your usual space, force yourself to step away from your work for a moment, and make time for certain mundane, everyday things. These are tasks that we'd never get paid to do, yet making time for them can ultimately yield the greatest return in innovative ideas.
It's the old adage that you find the answer once you stop looking for it. I get my best business ideas while drinking my morning coffee (the first pot, anyway) on my balcony or walking my dog in Central Park on the weekends. I wish someone would pay me to consume caffeine and walk Magic; I'd be a billionaire. But it pays off in a different way. The energy of being in a fresh setting sparks a flurry of ideas, so while my dog is chasing squirrels, I have a recorder out and ready to capture all inspiration that comes to me.
Innovative problem solving often happens when washing the dishes, taking a shower, going for a walk. These simple tasks occupy a portion of our attention but do not fill it. In the space left over, creative genius flourishes. If you're not making room for this in the crunch of endlessly busy days (and nights), do yourself and your business a favor: Schedule in time for a break.
- Change your definition of failure.
There are going to be obstacles and setbacks as you carve out success. So what? Any beautiful stock--Apple, say--has many dips on its rise up. If you focus on a day when that stock fell, you'd see crisis. You see your own life the same way, if you limit your perspective to a single bad day. Look at the long term: Would you call Apple a failure? Most investors certainly would not. A temporary setback isn't failure. It only becomes a problem when you allow that temporary setback to permanently change your mentality.
I have a friend who worked in investor relations for a major bank for years, where she skillfully navigated them through a major crisis. Once it was over, they commended her work and promptly made her "redundant." She was let go. Failure? Maybe to some. In finance we call it a rite of passage. So she picked right up and moved on to parlay that temporary setback into her own highly successful PR consultancy that specializes in crisis management. Now, she gets to do exactly what she does best, handle crisis management, and run her own company to boot. Instead of merely having to say "No comment" over and over, she gets to make real, meaningful comments that help people shape solutions and build their brands.
I have a saying: Winners win. I like to win. But of course, it's not to say that I never encounter setbacks. Does a salmon swimming upstream run into other fish? Does it deal with harsh currents and cold temperatures? Yes, and yes. And that's your job as an entrepreneur. You cannot let a failure define you. That would be the failure.
The more you practice the essential pivot, the lighter you'll be on your feet. When you hit a roadblock--and somewhere along the way, you will--you can nimbly leap from setback to solution.
ELLE KAPLAN | Columnist | CEO, Lexion Capital Management
A finance expert and self-made entrepreneur, Elle Kaplan is the CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management, the only 100 percent woman-owned asset management firm in the U.S.