I recently attended a client event and heard a keynote speaker talk about what scares you, and the idea that if you move towards what scares you, you can achieve great things. It’s a very interesting concept. Have you ever faced a situation or decision in your life or career that was particularly scary? Did you decide to move towards the fear, or did you hesitate, stop or even go in a different direction? Ever wonder why successful people seem to make things look so easy, as though they have never been afraid? It is rarely what it seems. Trust me. Most successful people do get scared, but the key difference is they seem to find excitement and energy in being in that “scary place.”
I remember a time back in the late 1990’s when I became what some colleagues referred to as a “serial entrepreneur.” I decided one day (maybe the sun was shining too brightly that day!) that I would leave a well-paying career in consulting and start my own business. But I didn’t want to just start a typical company; I wanted to create something that would be what I called “world-changing.” It had to be a big idea. It would either be a huge success or a total failure. There would be no place in between. That decision turned into a rollercoaster ride over many years, and many companies.
One of the businesses I started during the subsequent eight years was a social networking company. This was in late 1999, and the social networking applications we now take for granted did not yet exist. There were other start-ups out there, but LinkedIn, Friendster (whoa – anyone remember that?), and others didn’t enter the market until several years later. I decided to put my chips on the table and go “all in” on this business, investing significant personal savings and 100% of my sweat equity on a 24/7 basis.
I will not lie… it was a scary proposition.
I had a partner working with me (another serial entrepreneur) who had moved to Silicon Valley, and we spent a majority of our time working our relationships and trying to raise money. He used to tell me each morning that we had 0.00001% chance of raising the capital we needed to pull this off. How inspiring! But, we pressed on boldly.
I will spare you of the details on how this story ended, but I’ll bet you might assume it turned out much worse that I personally viewed it, and this was an extreme example. The key takeaway for me was that although this experience was a scary one, I did not let that fear stand in the way of trying to achieve something I believed I could do. While not everything turns out the way we want, if you are willing to move towards what scares you, you might be surprised at how many times it can lead to great success (or at least a successful failure)! Frankly, you cannot be successful at anything sitting on the sidelines.
Next time you find yourself facing what scares you consider this – what’s the worst thing that could happen? You might find that moving towards what scares you is really not that scary after all.