How fear can hold us back in business
I was probably about nine years old when I entered a public locker room after gymnastics.
My dad was a coach at the time, and we were practicing at a local school gym that day. Being a shy young girl, I went into a bathroom stall to change.
I remember it growing quiet as other people finished getting dressed and left the locker room. But I didn’t fully realize that I was alone in there.
Suddenly, the lights went off and I heard the click of the door lock.
I felt panic rise from my stomach as I felt for the lock on the stall door and tried to get out.
There were no windows in this locker room. I wasn’t familiar with it. And it was pitch dark.
I began screaming and dragging my hands along the walls. I remember catching my fingers on papers and tacks on a bulletin board. I finally found the door and pulled. It wouldn’t open and there was no way to unlock it from my side.
I don’t know how long I was in there, but the memory of my fear is stark, even today.
Finally, I heard the lock click, and a woman with a big cardboard key opened the door and kneeled down to comfort me.
That was probably 30 years ago, but even now, when I am alone in a locker room or public bathroom, I find myself listening a little more keenly to what is going on around me, to make sure I never get locked in a public bathroom again.
I think as a society we have come a long way in understanding how big traumas affect people and responding to them. But there are also these little events that sometimes stick with us and shape our behavior in small ways we don’t always recognize.
This happens a lot in our businesses.
Maybe we had a bad experience with a contractor, so we find ourselves steering away from delegating out that area of our business. Maybe we had a few months of famine with our finances, so we are scared to spend now that it’s past.
Fear is a powerful motivator.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role fear has played in my business. For a while, it made me think small. It held me back from taking any risks. It still sometimes does.
Too often we ask, “What if I fail?” “What if no one gets it?” What if I’m not good enough.”
What if we asked, “What if I succeed?”
If we continue to take small consistent steps and make calculated risks, we might be surprised to find that our biggest fears are never realized. Or even if they are, they just help us learn and move forward.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying about how courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing the thing afraid.
Don’t let those past events stop you from moving forward in your business, even if you are afraid.