A friend of mine and I have a running theme whenever we talk about our work.
Essentially, it boils down to this one catchphrase. Everybody--no matter how successful, rich, or powerful--wakes up every morning "scared sh!tless."
We both undoubtedly talk from personal experience. But we also talk as witnesses to people much more put together than we are and find that this emotion knows no bounds. Talking about it is hard because the minute you admit you harbor this absolutely normal--even necessary--human emotion, you're deemed a loser. All leaders are fearless! Risk takers have no fear! Give me a break.
They're also guaranteed to be scared sh!tless ... just as we are!
So how do I know this? I've talked with enough of these fearless leaders to know how much fear is a part of their lives. One such leader is a man who seems to be gracing the front pages of every current newspaper and magazine as today's Thomas Edison: Elon Musk.
Musk and I sat down a few years ago when I was writing Work Smarts. When we started to talk about the days when Tesla, the electric car company he founded, was running out of money, I asked if he had any fear. He jerked up in his chair and said: "I feel fear really strongly." And after a pause, "It's quite unpleasant."
"I don't have a fear of failure. I'm not going to fail to do something just because I fear that I wouldn't win ... I think people often are irrational about fears," Musk said. He went on to describe that even if his two companies--Tesla and SpaceX--failed, he wouldn't be "destitute." Finally, I asked how he got through his fear.
"I thought I had an obligation to do everything possible to make Tesla and SpaceX succeed because I think they're important to the future of the world. And I don't want to have to look back on that and say, 'Well, you know, there's one thing I could have done and I didn't do it and maybe if we had done that we would have succeeded.' I didn't want that to be the case."
"So it was more like you feared the regret rather than the failure," I said.
That moment is what I now dub "The Call." That's the moment when you realize no matter how scared you are about doing something, not doing it is even scarier. The Call turns the fear of failure into the fear of regret, which is the thing you need--the thing that Musk talked about--to propel yourself into action. "If I don't do this, I'll regret it for the rest of my life ..." Once you find yourself saying that, then you've made the Call.
Every entrepreneur knows the Call well. They've all passed through it. If you're dreaming about being an entrepreneur and you haven't jumped off the cliff yet, you haven't hit the Call. The Call is the guaranteed best way to overcome your fear because if there's one way to get over a fear, it's having an even bigger one to deal with--the fear that you'll wake up every morning knowing that you didn't take the risk when you had the chance.
For all you aspiring entrepreneurs, remember that fear is the place that separates the men from the boys and where the women put their "big girl pants on."
Now go make the Call.