The Monster In My closet
As a child, I constantly lived in fear of the monsters in my closet, out my window and under my bed. Night after night, I lay there, covered with extra blankets and pillows (not sure what help I thought that would be), staring at the doorknob to my closet. I would swear I saw it move. The fear was so consuming that I would barely sleep. I was on constant guard.
Where does that fear come from? Why do we think something so unlikely is possible? We have the ability to reason. We also have the ability to imagine which, in certain situations like the one I just described, can be a downside. We can create realities that seem so tangible and possible that we lose touch with what is logical and likely. For a long time I thought this fear lessened with age. However, recently as I was working with one of my clients, I realized it just changes form. While we no longer believe there are monsters in the closet, our fear of outcomes – what might go wrong – still paralyzes us. I regularly see clients who are stuck, not because of a lack of opportunity, but from an unwillingness to make a decision and try. The conversation goes like this:
Client: I have a great opportunity to expand my business.
Coach: Really? That’s great. Why haven’t you moved forward on it?
Client: What if it fails?
Coach: What if it works?
Client: What if it works and I can’t handle all the new business?
Coach: What if you stay right where you are and do nothing?
Client: Then I will never expand.
When we allow our fear of success and failure to overshadow all possibilities, we do nothing. Sure, the monsters you are afraid of could be real. Doing anything means accepting risk, including staying where you are. The world could pass you by and your business could fail from lack of innovation and growth. Shutting down your business is risky because you will need to find a new job. Growing your business is risky because you could fail.
Risk is inherent in our lives, so how do we manage it? The key is looking at the likelihood of outcomes and making a decision based on that, not fear. If you take on the new opportunity, how committed are you to it? What are you willing to do and sacrifice to make sure it works? The rest is just formulating a plan and working the plan. You cannot control everything that affects your business any more than you can in life. Technically, you took a chance by just walking outside today. Some factors are just plain out of our control. However, if you surround yourself with the right people who can help guide you and you use logic, you can minimize the chances of failure and have the best shot at success.