During a recent session with a new client I learned that he had launched and sold seven businesses. He's 31 years old. Conversely, another client, grasping for ways to save her failing business, has several fantastic ideas but hasn't gotten a single one of them out of her brain and into action.
Both individuals are creative, intelligent, and willing to take financial risk. But what separates the two is the willingness to take emotional risk.
Two tiny words, what if, will launch a litany of doubts and fears, keeping even the most genius ideas at bay. What if they laugh at me? What if I fail? What if I succeed? It seems there is no satisfying the little gremlins that hold our greatest ideas hostage to their criticism.
But you can fool the gremlins and step onto the entrepreneurial playing field with these simple steps. If more people like you would bring your ideas to fruition, wouldn't the world be a better place?
1. Flip that thought.
In a roundabout way inaction keeps us emotionally safe. Your gremlins know you're afraid, and they're simply protecting you from your greatest fears. Offer them the flip-side of any negative thought that stops you in your tracks. In time, this will actually "fool" your brain into a relaxed confidence and help to get things into perspective. Here are some examples.
Negative thought: What if I fail?
Flip side: I can only fail if I don't try. If I try, I will learn and succeed.
Negative thought: What if people think it's a stupid idea?
Flip side: I can work with any constructive criticism that I receive. The rest doesn't matter.
Negative thought: Who am I to make this happen?
Flip side: Who was Einstein before his first discovery? Someone's gotta do it!
2. Create a plan and chunk it down.
Do you ever sit down to work on a project and find yourself playing solitaire or doing aimless "research" online instead? Odds are that you don't have a detailed plan. To say, "I'm going to work on my website" doesn't cut it. Make a list of detailed tasks and assign those tasks to your calendar. This will decrease your tendency to procrastinate and give you the focus that's necessary to complete them.
3. Act fast.
The longer your idea stagnates in your mind, the less likely you are to act upon it. Remember: you are not going to make any mistakes that you won't learn from. Mistakes are OK! Don't fool yourself into believing that the perfect moment and the perfect plan will come. Now is the perfect moment. Create your plan, get it on the calendar, and make it happen!
4. Tell your tribe.
I've noticed that people who don't act on their ideas are usually afraid of what others will think of them if they fail. That fear is not necessarily a bad thing; use it to your advantage. Share your idea, and what you plan to do about it, with a few close friends and peers. Now you're committed! Take it a step further by asking for their support. What is one very specific thing that each of these individuals can do to help you out? Providing accountability, resources, connections, and expertise are some examples.
Again, failure is only a lack of trying, not an attempt that goes awry. You can always re-work your plan, but you can't buy back your lost time, so each step is a victory. At the end of the week take a look at your task list and note all of the items that are crossed out. You did it! Share the news; reward yourself with a simple outing or time out with a good book. Acknowledging your progress, rather than diminishing your efforts, will keep the engine going!
Now imagine those negative, little gremlins coming on board with your plan. They are simply there to keep you "safe" from your greatest fears by talking you out of taking the emotional risks. Let them know what you want and flip that energy into positive, motivating thought. One idea will lead to the next and soon you will become a master at success!