When Fear Tries To Derail You, Respond With Your Inner Lioness

Fear and self-doubt sneaks up on the best of entrepreneurs. Instead of feeding into it, channel your inner Lioness to keep you on track toward your goals.

Today I was thinking about all of the fears I’ve karate chopped in the throat since I’ve set out on my startup journey. When you put your dreams on display for the world to view, you feel vulnerable.

With all of the ups and downs of startup life – struggling (and failing) to make payroll, meeting planning deadlines, constantly restructuring your business model and just finding the hours to crank out your product –  it’s no wonder the words “crazy” and “entrepreneur” often go so seamlessly together.

Despite our undying passions and the positive mantras we chant to ourselves to make it through the day, fear has a way of sneaking up on us when we stop for a moment to contemplate the massive hurdles ahead of us. My helpings of self-doubt feed me thoughts like these:

  • What if this doesn’t work out in the end?
  • I don’t know how to do that.
  • I’m scared.
  • What if I suck at [insert challenge]?
  • What if this is all for nothing?
  • Where will I find the money?
  • I feel overwhelmed.
  • Who am I to try to do this?

In fact, if I wasn’t so darn obsessed with Lioness’ mission, I’d probably give my entrepreneur spirit an exorcism and hightail my resume to the nearest, securest company I could find in a 10-mile radius. But then that “crazy entrepreneur” rears her stubborn head and I give my anxieties a Ronda Rousey MMA style beatdown and I’m back to trying to take over the world.

As humans we are wired with the fight or flight response when sensing danger. So it should come as no surprise to us when our instincts tell us to run toward safety from the risky startup world.

When my courage needs boosting and those pesky fears start to talk to me, I let my inner Lioness respond. Here are some responses to help you fight the fear:

FEAR: What if this doesn’t work out in the end?

LIONESS: What if it does? I’m going to try every avenue possible, everything imaginable before daring to throw in the towel.

FEAR: I don’t know how to do that.

LIONESS: I’m going to find someone who does.

FEAR: I’m scared.

LIONESS: What exactly am I afraid of? Is it something rational or irrational?

FEAR: What if I suck at [insert challenge here]?

LIONESS: If I suck I was either unprepared or need more knowledge to do it right.

FEAR: What if this is all for nothing?

LIONESS: Name one situation that turned out to be all for nothing. Was there ever a time when a situation didn’t teach me something I needed to learn or make me a better person because of it? Exactly. Get back to work.

FEAR: Where will I find the money?

LIONESS: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’m going to make sure everything I do is set up for optimum monetization. I’m going to stop giving my talents away for free. I can’t pay my bills with free.

FEAR: I feel overwhelmed.

LIONESS: Step back. Breathe. Prioritize. Delegate.

FEAR: Who am I to try to do this?

LIONESS: I am the person who came up with the idea in the first place. I won’t let fear derail my aspirations.

Running a startup is kind of like giving birth to a baby. It can’t stand on its on just yet, it needs you for everything and no matter how much advice anyone gives you, you truly only learn as you go. And like so many first-time mothers, you’ll question your abilities. Don’t let the negative voices speak louder than the truth – that you have every right, are more than qualified and just as able as anyone else to pursue your dreams. This is your moment and you are exactly where you need to be for a reason.

Photo Courtesy of Whatsername? [FLICKR]

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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