Fear immobilizes people that are considering whether or not to start their own business, but a different type of fear can mobilize that same individual. Let’s start by discussing how fear immobilizes people. The fear of failure is prevalent in all walks of life, but is terrifying when it comes to starting your own business. What are we so afraid of? Well some of the biggest fears of people looking to become entrepreneurs are fear of failure, unpredictability, and fear of the unknown.
How do you combat these fears? My answer lies in a different type of fear; this is the fear of death and dying. I know this sounds dark and morbid, but hear me out. Ernest Becker wrote a beautiful piece of work called The Denial of Death that outlines how the fear of death is the underlying factor that controls our lives. We tend to stay in our comfort zones because of certain fears, Ernest Becker explains:
“What we will see is that man cuts out for himself a manageable world: he throws himself into action uncritically, unthinkingly. He accepts the cultural programming that turns his nose where he is supposed to look; he doesn’t bite the world off in one piece as a giant would, but in small manageable pieces, as a beaver does. He uses all kinds of techniques, which we call the “character defenses”: he learns not to expose himself, not to stand out; he learns to embed himself in other-power, both of concrete persons and of things and cultural commands; the result is that he comes to exist in the imagined infallibility of the world around him. He doesn’t have to have fears when his feet are solidly mired and his life mapped out in a ready-made maze. All he has to do is to plunge ahead in a compulsive style of drivenness in the “ways of the world” that the child learns and in which he lives later as a kind of grim equanimity—the “strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting”—as James put it.”
What this says is we will do anything we can not to stand out or make ourselves vulnerable to failure and ridicule. The funny thing is If you start your own company and break free of the 9-5 you have done what over 61 percent of people would like to: be your own boss. That in itself is an accomplishment. Only one third of people who would like to become their own boss actually do it. Yes there will be challenges, yes there will be setbacks, but would you rather live your life wondering "what if?" What if I can work for myself? What if I create an enduring company? But most importantly, what if taking this risk and starting my own company provides me with the peace and happiness I have been looking for all along?
According to the economic website, FRED, the average American works about 1700 hours per year which equates to about 212 days a year. That’s 58% of your year being spent doing something that you may not enjoy. Each of us knows not what is promised or how much time we have on this earth, so I urge you to use this fear and transform it to a mobilizing force and allow it to drive you forward. Start your own company, take risks, live life on the edge of greatness. I will revert to Ernest Becker one last time:
“We fear our highest possibility (as well as our lowest ones). We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments….”
Embrace your fears!