Fear in Business

A few days ago I was talking to another small business owner about how we never had trouble sleeping until we started our own companies. Now we sometimes find ourselves awakened, much like a child having a bad dream, 2:00-3:00 a.m..  We wondered why this happened. One word kept coming back into our conversation: fear.  Since this is the month of spooky things and ghouls and goblins, I thought it appropriate to discuss fear in the workplace.
Fear might crop into our minds when we sense responsibility for others, when we experience uncertainty, or when we deal with many “unknowns.”  Whether trying to grow a company, making changes, or simply making payroll, running and managing a company or department is scary and hard.  It entails making hard decisions. But while may overwhelm us, it sometimes can help.
Fear is the mind’s way of telling us that danger is lurking ahead.  But even though it may be justified, it can halt imagination and choke ambition.  It can sometimes make simple or straightforward tasks seem insurmountable.  So how does one know the difference between an emotion that can protect us versus one that can paralyze us?
One way is to learn—let fear be a teacher.   When you face something that really scared the crap out of you, take note of the outcomes.  Was it as bad as you thought?  Did the company grow because of it?  Learn just like you do from mistakes.  Often, the fear fades once we face it. 
Another way is to enlist the help of experts to affirm or squash your fears.  People often think that courage means you have no fear. But I believe that taking action despite the fact that you have fears is a display of courage.  However, taking action is a lot easier said than done.  But, if you talk to other industry leaders, family members, or colleagues about your fears, they may see things differently than you. They may help you assess whether your fears are justified or blown out of proportion.
The final way is to see fear as advantageous, not a sign of weakness.  Fear is a perfectly natural reaction that can work to our advantage.  It is absolutely reasonable to feel some fear before making a new key hire, negotiating a new contract, or investing a large sum of money into a new idea.  That emotion can prove helpful by tempering the owner’s or manager’s own thought processes and preventing irrational decision-making. 


Don’t let fear become a burden or paralyze you from making things happen.  Think about your team or your employees who count on you for jobs and become courageous and smart.    If we can help you face your fears this last quarter, please know we are here to help!