Many future entrepreneurs dream of success, and the financial and personal rewards often associated with success. These would-be entrepreneurs buy and read countless “self-help” books and articles designed to guide or point them in the right direction. But in the end, the answer is not in books or articles. The magic ingredient is you.
As a franchise coach, I am fortunate to be friends with many successful business owners. If you could dissect the mind of successful entrepreneurs, you would find a common ingredient: courage. Successful entrepreneurs have the courage to take measured risks, courage to move in a different direction, courage to take advice, courage to invest their savings in their own abilities, and courage to sometimes go it alone. It takes courage to be self-employed, totally reliant on your own resources, and to be 100% responsible for the results. In the end, the courage to take measured risk and to deal with uncertainty is directly connected to your ability to harness fear.
A little fear, harnessed the right way, is exceptionally powerful. A very wise man extolled the virtues of “doing at least one thing each day that just scares you.” This is good advice and is the first step on the road to harnessing the power of fear. Everyone has a certain degree of fear when they do something new. Successful entrepreneurs use this fear as a motivator to identify risks and prepare for success. This is a learned behavior and does not come naturally. In fact, in the primal part of our brain, the part that was formed eons ago, there still survives the ‘self-preservation, fight or flight’ programming. Training ourselves to manage this compulsive survival instinct is hard work. Every successful entrepreneur has mastered this.
The courage to harness fear to drive successful outcomes can happen at any time in our lives. For some, this happens as a child. Our parents have more influence on our future success than many would like to admit and we learn these skills through observation and trial and error while growing up. For others, it happens as a teen or as an adult through conscious action and focus. For others, it never happens. Fear will always control their actions. This last group will always find fault with an idea. This fear leads directly to the ‘flight’ instinct. Regardless of the quality of an opportunity, these folks will always avoid uncertainty.
Once you harness your reaction to risk, stress and fear, you will start to develop courage. You will first begin to recognize opportunity and then you will gain the confidence and courage to take advantage of the opportunities. Finally, you will be able look in the mirror and say, “Yes, I know I can do this and regardless of what happens, I have the ability and skills to handle it.”
If you were lucky enough to have grown up in a household with successful, entrepreneurially-minded parents sharing their knowledge with you, then you’re lucky enough. You learned how to handle courage and fear as a child and it is second nature to you.
If you fall into the other 80% of families, then you’ve got some work to do. First you must learn to harness your fear and then you will acquire the confidence and courage it takes to make bold decisions. You are never too old or too young to begin training yourself.