While a group of friends screamed their way through a haunted house on Halloween, I was fearlessly making my way through. In fact, a few times I scared the actors working as ghosts and ghouls. I wasn't always like this.
It got me thinking about courage, and the value it has had at my company.
Not only will you have to push yourself to face your fears, but lead your entire organization to do the same. Not just in having the guts to launch a business, but at every step afterwards.
It's not easy - and you won't always want to do it. Your teams might push back, or stumble at it. But trust me when I say, having courage can be so worth it.
Your Worst Case Scenario Is Usually Not A Reality
The founder of Bonobos once said:
"It's not the risk in doing something that feels risky. The risk is actually in not doing something that feels risky."
Encountering a situation that pushes your fears or takes you out of your comfort zone will make you envision your worst-case scenario - that if you try to start a business, you might fail and be on the street. Or, that you'll lose something if you fire that employee.
In reality, these scenarios rarely happen the way we envision them. We often have more safety nets around us than we think - even when we do not, and in the slim chance the worst does happen, you'll likely have more ways out than you think.
I don't like to jump off high diving boards at the swimming pool, but any time I have, whatever fears I encountered as I took the leap didn't happen.
I keep this in mind when I am faced with situations that require courage in my business.
Courage Is Like A Muscle - It Gets Stronger The More You Use It
The first time courage is needed at your company, you'll find yourself wrestling with it. Keep going! Start that first sentence in the difficult conversation you need to have. Take that first step you need to make.
As you do, you'll see the viewpoint widen - and what you're facing will become easier. One day you find yourself walking through a haunted house facing your fears directly instead of running away.
Encourage and lead the same with your teams. Don't handle the challenges they're facing for them - help them face their own fears and discomfort, and develop their courage.
It goes beyond you and your teams to your business in the market, as well. It takes courage to stand on your conviction and trust your gut. Do it. When outside influences are challenging your sense of direction, hear all ends - then have the courage to make the choice that feels like your best fit.
Work to develop an antenna for the places where you're not being courageous and you should be. It's not always obvious or staring you in the face - notice when you're dismissing it, canceling a meeting on a difficult topic, avoiding having a conversation with someone on your team.
Know When It's Okay To Stay In Your Comfort Zone
There is usually more than one way to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, and it's okay to find your own way of navigating these challenges.
If large events are outside of your comfort zone, it can be as effective to peer-to-peer network via email, or attend smaller, more intimate events.
What matters is that you're getting the job done. As you face situations that require your courage, explore your options for the next steps you need to take. Then take the route that fits.
Whenever I find a place where I need to be brave at Simple Mills, I remind myself of Brené Brown, of Rising Strong, who said:
"Anyone has done great things has lived their life in the arena. And because of that, I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life, and when we make the choice to dare greatly, we get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can't have both."
Next time you meet your fears in the corridors of running your company, run at them. You'll be glad you did.