Some people hate scary movies. The suspense, the jumps, the desire to check behind your shower curtain every time you use the bathroom for the next five days.
Instead of pushing fear away, we should welcome it and all that it can do to keep us on our toes and propel our work to new and exciting heights.
Science tells us that there are four natural reactions to fear, all beginning with "F"--none of them involve screaming the F-word, although I think we should propose that as the fifth natural reaction. The four responses are freeze, fight, flight and fright.
In freeze mode, you take the time to analyze the thing causing you fear. In fight, you take direct action; in flight, you work around the fear. In all likelihood, when you are confronted with fear, you are going to naturally figure out how to cope with that fear in order to give yourself the best outcome.
The only non-action based stage is fright. But if you already have the entrepreneurial spirit in you, I don't see fright in your future.
Fear lets us know that we're trying something new.
Have you ever looked at a "new" product or invention and said, "Hey, wait a second--that looks a lot like X?" Or how about the old startup joke: "It's like Uber, but for [insert action here]."
You would probably never want anyone to say this about your product, which is why you should feel scared when creating it. Fear is a natural reaction to the unknown, and feeling fear will let you know that you're doing something innovative.
Fear is (mostly) learned.
Fears are usually based on different knowledge and experiences.
According to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears, 48 percent of Americans surveyed are currently "afraid or very afraid" of global warming and climate change. In 2016, global warming didn't even make the survey's top 10; in 2006, it probably didn't even come up at Thanksgiving dinner.
Think about whatever it is that you are afraid of. You probably can't remember when the fear started, but chances are that it stemmed from a significant event. But you have the power to make overcoming that fear an even more significant event.
And fear can be unlearned.
You don't have to be scared of something forever, and in fact, a great way to get over a fear is to face it. Exposure therapy has helped people with specific phobias to overcome their fears, and you can do something similar for your everyday fears.
Scared of cold-e-mailing? Draft up some messages and ping them to a friend for feedback, until you feel ready to fire them off to a potential employer or donor.
Even facing fears that are not business related can help us in our work, by building our confidence and allowing us to focus on the things that will help us succeed.
Fear lets us know what is important to us
When a guy with a chainsaw pops out at a haunted house and scares the shit out of you, it's because you value your safety and well-being. (On a side note, how much more authentic do these haunted houses really need to be? We get it!)
When a stock you haven't invested in goes down, you probably yawn and continue scrolling on your phone until you find a cute puppy video--that stock means nothing to you. If you are working on a project and are worried about if you will get it done in time or if the people who need it will like it, that is a good thing; it means that project is important to you, which in turn means you will dedicate your best efforts to it.
Embrace that sweat on your brow and know that it just means you care.
We all face fear at some point in our lives. Fearlessness is not the act of not possessing any fear, but rather the act of embracing that fear and using it to grow and learn, both about ourselves and about what we are building.
The fear that once seemed so powerful won't know what to do with itself, because it's only in your head. It isn't real. You can overcome all of it.