You struggle to get up every morning to go to work, and then sit in traffic for hours to get to a job you hate and a boss who has bad breath. Every morning you tell yourself that you are going to quit this dead-end job, and yet, you’re still there.
So what’s holding you up?
I think there are two things. The first is the fear of failure, and the second is not actually knowing how to go about the act of ‘starting’.
The acronym I like most about fear is this: False Evidence Appearing Real. So, if you have not yet failed at the business that you have not yet started, how can you possibly be fearful? That said, fear is no joke — it’s real. But fear by itself is not the issue. The real issue is the fear of failure. Failure physically hurts, and that’s why there is fear around it.
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When I was a teenage boy, there was this pretty girl I really liked, but I was petrified to ask her out. I kept thinking what would happen if she said no. Then my brother (who was older and had a way with the ladies) gave me some sound advice. He said: “She will say yes, all you have to do is just ask her out.”
My brother taught me how to stop focusing on the fear of failure. He removed the focus from failing, and moved it to doing. You see, failure doesn’t really come from rejection — it comes from inaction. So don’t try to start a business fearing that you’ll fail, because then you will never actually start.
I did ask out the girl… and she said no. I felt rejected, sure, and it hurt, but at least I was not wasting my energy on the wrong girl any longer. I simply turned my energies to her friend.
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Focus on success
If you focus on success rather than failure, your fears turn into motivation, which allows you to get things started faster. And if you do fail, you will at least fail fast.
Most importantly, while failure certainly hurts, it does have many positives. It makes you smarter, for one thing. You learn to see the probability of an idea working because you have many data points to pull from.
Failure (like practice) makes you better. It stands to reason that people who tend to be successful have also failed the most. Why? Because they have tried more times than most. Because people get celebrated for their successes, no one ever bothers to look at how many failures it took to get to success.
Behind every successful person, there are a lot of failures. My brother, for example, was only charming because he had more experience than I had with the ladies.
I don’t like failing, but failing to even try is worse. In the long run, you will not regret the things you did, but the things you never even tried.
Here are some thoughts that helped me to get started:
- The more ideas, the better.
- Focus on ideas that you are truly passionate about.
- Research ideas thoroughly.
- There are no longer any original ideas, so what makes your idea original is you.
- Find an idea that resolves a problem you have.
- Ask as many people as you can about the idea – not only your family.
- Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
- If the idea sucks, it is the idea that sucks, not you. So don’t doubt yourself.
If you have a great ice-cream recipe, make some ice cream. If people love it, make some more and charge them for it. If they are paying for it, get a stall in a market or a pop-up store in a mall. Think big, but start small. The only thing holding you back is fear.