If you're an entrepreneur going through the ups and downs of owning a business and considering tossing in the towel, let me toss you a lifeline.

Darren Hardy, best-selling author of The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, says that the real reason 66 percent of all entrepreneurs fail is not because of what most people assume as "outside factors"--capital, location, credit, inventory management, and competition.

Entrepreneurs fail for internal reasons. It's facing the unexpected emotional roller coaster ride most entrepreneurs experience that is the greatest factor to why most quit.

When entrepreneurs experience the bumps, dips, and hard turns, they're not prepared for the ride. They fall into the victim trap playing in their heads that "there's something wrong with me" or "I'm not cut out for this."

These mental roadblocks are important to overcome to get to the other side of success. And the biggest roadblock holding entrepreneurs back, according to Hardy?


Hardy says that no matter how much you're warned and how skilled you are, fear is the ONE thing can crush you in entrepreneurship, and stop you from realizing your dreams. So how do you overcome the fear? Glad you asked.

Overcome Your Fear by "Hacking Your System."

Hardy unpacks how anyone, especially entrepreneurs, can train his or her brain to succeed by literally hacking your system. Here are six brain hacks you can start practicing today.

1. Get real.

Gain perspective into your situation and separate reality from fantasy. It's realizing that life will go on, and you're not going to die from a mortal wound if you get rejected in front of a group of investors.

Any drama you make up in your head is merely that--drama. It's usually made up, scripted, and based on a past experience that you're attaching to current reality. It's not true, and it has no power over you.

2. It's the "fear of fear that you fear."

President Roosevelt famously quipped, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It's what happens before you make that super important call, walk on stage for a keynote the first time, or across the room to introduce yourself to the girl of your dreams. The anticipation of fear kicks in and you turn to jell-o. But after you pull it off, you realize you're not in danger and no monster ate you. Training your brain to accept there's no threat will help you to switch off the fear response.

3. 20 seconds of courage.

Direct quote from Hardy: "Think of everything you could accomplish if you forced 20 seconds of bravery on your primitive mind just three times a day? Imagine how doing so would multiply your success, lifestyle, and prominence in the marketplace. Think of the breakthroughs you could create."

4. Focus on tasks and not outcomes.

Hardy uses the illustration of Michael Jordan taking a winning shot. He isn't thinking about the outcome and how that final shot will define the season, the championship, or his legacy. He's only thinking about the shot--one he has taken a million times, and missed more than half the time (49.7 career shooting percentage).

The same rules apply to the entrepreneur in the moments when anxiety closes in. Just focus on the task--picking up the phone, shaking a client's hand, looking him in the eye and saying, "sign here."

Hardy says, "Don't let your mind twist itself into a frantic mess by focusing on the magnified (and usually negative and false) outcome."

5. Habituate yourself to fear.

How have you personally learned to deal with fear? Many people never get to this stage where they face their demons. By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, it loses its power and control over you. The one thing that was your greatest detriment now becomes your greatest strength.

Hardy says that most people are not willing to go through that short period of time of habituation. In an extreme sense, think about how goofy teenagers glued to their X-Boxes are transformed into war-fighting machines in the battle fields of Afghanistan. When the bullets are flying and bombs are exploding, they're running at the bullets and bombs, which is the opposite of how the brain works. How did this happen? It's called boot camp, that's how. In boot camp, soldiers are submerged into an amazing amount of stress and a constant overload of fear to the point where they don't fear anymore.

No matter what it is that you fear, Hardy suggests that if you literally just submerge yourself in it for a long-enough period of time, the illusion of fear (because there's no such, actually, as fear--it's an illusion we make up in our minds), will eventually be gone. That weakness becomes your great strength.

When you figure out the thing that you fear--it's usually the most important thing that you need to make your business successful.

Hardy recommends submerging yourself in your fear for 90-days. In other words, have relentless contact with the activity or activities that you fear, and by the end of 90-days, says Hardy, you'll no longer fear it.

6. Making fear and failure fun.

At the age of 20, Hardy received this tip from an unnamed seminar speaker: "The key to success is massive failure. Your goal it to out-fail your competition. In most businesses, whoever can fail the most, the fastest, and the biggest wins."

To clarify, the speaker picked up a cocktail napkin, pulled out a pen and drew a diagram. "Life, growth, and achievement," he told Hardy, "work like a pendulum. On one side, you have failure, rejection, defeat, pain, and sadness. On the other side, you have success, acceptance, victory, joy, and happiness. If you stand still in life, you won't experience much failure and pain. But you won't find much success and happiness either.

"Over time," he told Hardy, "most people figure out how to operate in a narrow comfort zone. They can only allow the pendulum to swing a small distance into pain, rejection, and failure, thus they only experience the same small degree of joy, connection, and success on the other side of the swing."

This lesson stuck with Hardy forever. A mistake so many entrepreneurs make is thinking they can have success without failure, or happiness without sadness. As sure as we have gravity, we have the pendulum swing of success and failure.

Entrepreneurs need to embrace failure. And they need to "out-fail" their competition.

Your Turn

As you consider the techniques of hacking your system, it's pointless to do so until you fully recognize, with all your self-awareness, the "internal" factors that keep you spinning your wheels. In the end, it is whatever you can or cannot master from the neck-up that will make or break you.

Lets continue the conversation. Hit me up on Twitter and tell me which of these hacks (or your own) has helped?