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Fear, Forgiveness, and Funky Smells

What happens to entrepreneurs who refuse to forgive themselves for their mistakes? A six-time Emmy Award-winning producer explains.
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Have you ever felt angry or disappointed with yourself? Sure you have. As entrepreneurs, we have to take risks—it comes with the territory. And with risk comes mistakes, which can be really upsetting. Plain and simple: Some mistakes are tough to forgive.

So what happens when you don’t forgive yourself for taking risks that backfire or spending so much time on your risks that you neglect your personal life? Can it actually harm your business? Six-time Emmy Award winning producer and PBS host Shawne Duperon says it can—and will. “The true entrepreneur, who really rocks it out, has the ability to forgive themself quickly,” says Duperon. “All the fruit, all the amazing opportunities, are out there on those skinny branches, and sometimes you’re going to fall."

"The risk game is filled with traps that will lead you to making mistakes," she says. "But the real trap is to stay in the pain of the mistakes.”

We know that holding on to anger and other negative emotions affects our health and our choices. Duperon  believes that we all have two choices—the choice between love and fear. “Love may be an odd word in business, but think about how this applies in social media,” she says. “People who like Apple on Facebook, for instance, love their iPads. In this realm of love we experience joy, passion, excitement, and team building; all important things when building a business.”

The second choice is fear—and that’s where desperation lies. Duperon does not believe that fear is a lack of confidence in business owners because we are completely fearless in so many ways.  “Fear is more about biology,” she says. “We naturally feel safe in an environment where we know what to do next. But when you become a business owner, you open the door to a whole different world of dancing to discomfort. In that mode, fear can show up in a lot of different ways and it’s not about confidence. Fear can show up as anger, procrastination, annoyance, desperation—as soon as I am in one of these modes I know I’m not in the other realm of love, where all the miracles manifest.”

And the good business opportunities are amongst those miracles. As a business owner you must know where you are at: Are you in the realm of fear or love? And have you become masterful at dancing between the two?

“Fear is kind of silly in a lot of ways,” Duperon says. “I like to say that fear is like a fart!  If you’re walking in the mall and all of the sudden the fart smell hits you, it lasts for about five or six seconds (if you’re lucky)! Fear is like that too. Those business owners who become masterful with fear can stand the smell – but some farts last longer than others.”

To use Duperon’s colorful analogy, maybe your fart is that you chose the wrong employee. Let’s say that the smell lasts for six months because now you have to figure out how to release them without going through a lawsuit. A masterful entrepreneur will forgive themselves, which will lessen the smell, allow you see your options clearly and make better choices. “It’s a game of trial and error,” she says. “The key is to forgive yourself and bounce back after making these mistakes.”

Be warned that if you don’t forgive yourself you will end up in desperation mode.  “You don’t see the odd things when you are in that mode,” Duperon says. “For instance, we’ve all been at a networking event where we see that woman who really, really wants to get married.  She sets her sights on someone and in her desperation to get married she doesn’t even notice that he drank six beers in six minutes!” Yes, desperation leads us to making the wrong choices because we are not clear-headed enough to see the red flags.

Forgiveness is a process, it ebbs and flows and anger is an important part of the process. If someone does something that really makes you angry and you don’t express it, that anger will manifest in other ways; you may eat more sugar or feel more annoyed with your kids. So, according to Duperon, the key is to go through the process quickly, but not necessarily to forgive and forget quickly.

“If Mothers Against Drunk Drivers hadn’t gotten so angry, and weren’t so mad for so many years,” Duperon says. “We wouldn’t have had a global transformation in how we perceive drinking and driving. Everyone’s process is different.”

Duperon’s passion for the topic of forgiveness comes from her own life story. And because of the transformation she has achieved through her forgiveness process, she is now the driving force behind a documentary that will unveil the secret. Famed Hollywood producer Scott Rosenfelt has already signed on to help create the Project: Forgive documentary. Rosenfelt is credited with discovering Julia Roberts and producing more than 30 feature films, including Home Alone and Sundance Film Festival winner Smoke Signals.

At some point in life, everyone needs to forgive and be forgiven. You can begin by contributing to your own happiness with Shawne’s simple tips to alleviate fear biologically. To contribute on a global scale, participate in Project: Forgive by sharing your own story or contributing to the film.

Here are a few techniques to help you step away from the fear and into forgiveness.

Reach out and ask for help. It’s hard for small business owners to give up control and allow others to help them.  Get into a mastermind group; reach out to mentors, coaches and advisors. Being in a circle of other business owners gives you the opportunity to see another perception. New perceptions alter destiny. Noticing what happens when you are in fear mode is where the new perceptions come from. Talking to others will help.

Take a day off! Exhaustion is a good sign that you are off track. Henry Ford always took “noodle time” just to see what thoughts came up for him. You can’t go 24/7 like many business owners do. This will lead to one bad choice after another – it almost becomes unbearable to try to get out of this amount of pain. You will be more clear-headed after a day of play!

When it thunders, don't fear. It’s like kids sitting with lightening; the noise is so loud and the boom is so big. If you don’t understand it you are terrified. When you increase knowledge you lower your fear. Pay attention to the different thunders that are around you and discover that it is not that deep.

Last updated: Mar 26, 2012




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