At the JTFoxx reunion event 2015, we had several great talks from Damien Elston CEO of the JTFoxx empire, but one stood out to me in particular. Damien Elston’s thoughts on fear.
One important aspect of business Damien felt was essential to move ahead in business is the matter of fear. I had never really thought about the reasons for feeling fear.
For those of you who couldn’t be there, here’s Damien’s talk in under five minutes
Four obstacles created by fear
Damien’s first slide looked at four obstacles to your dreams caused by fear. To help understand the points, let’s use the example of fear in starting up a new business.
Fear and worry
Fear compounds into more fear and worry, especially when starting a new business. Most of us thinking of starting a small business enterprise are overcome by questions like:
- What if the market changes?
- What if I get it wrong?
- What if I upset someone?
If left unchecked, a fear cycle will be created until a tiny fear becomes a raging fear storm.
Lack of confidence
When you are afraid to do something you create many different types of worries. You constantly second guess yourself and be check with others to see if what you are doing is correct.
A lack of confidence in yourself is one of the biggest turn-off to potential customers, investors and supporters. As the saying goes; if you don’t believe in yourself why should others believe in you?
Lack of persistence
When you are scared, you’ll quit as soon as you get a negative result. However, statistics show that the most successful people are able to “recalibrate” an idea after a negative result or failure.
Successful people recalibrate not once, but ten, twenty, thirty times until they obtain success. Edison had 1,000 failures before he was successful in creating the light bulb.
Failure to take action
When you are scared you become paralysed. In the example of setting up a new business, you might become so paralysed that you don’t even do the basics like set up a company name and bank account.
We know from our own experience and the experience of countless that have gone ahead before us, that success can only be achieved with actions.
If you recognise any of the above four obstacles in yourself then it is likely that fear is the root cause.
Once Elston had outlined some basic success obstacles caused by fear, he went on to look at what creates and causes fear in others.
For example, he mentioned that some fear is created by influences from third party stories of people who had tried something similar which ultimately crashed.
Does your company have a culture of fear?
Now in a business perhaps you are fearless, but your employees may not be.
Fear in parts of your business will also prevent your company from reaching its potential. Elston then went on to examine why employees may be afraid in their business.
In my own business, it is essential that my employees are able to make decisions on their own. However, it takes a lot of time to mentor and coach employees to feel free to make business decisions.
Elston asked three searching questions to see whether your business has created a culture of fear.
- Are you, or your team members terrified about trying out a new tactic or initiative?
- Do you feel comfortable if pushed to make a decision on your own?
- Are your employees concerned about the security of their job?
Question 2 may seem strange but if you are afraid to make a decision, then your employees will see this fear and also be fearful.
How to eliminate fear
Elston ended his talk by providing an overview of the strategies you can use to eliminate fear in your organisation. He began this section with these words:
Help employees to be better than you.
This has been a key concept I’ve held in every senior manager and a director position of every single company I’ve worked for or run.
Finding people who could become better than me and coaching them has helped me to quickly be promoted or increased the profitability of my business.
Here are some techniques that Elston uses within his own business to remove fear in his employees:
- Educate employees through leadership – tell them when you were afraid
- Show your employees your own failures
- Share with your employees the number of failures you had before you became successful
- Share with your employees how much fun you had during the failure cycle (Elston commented if you have more fun in making money, you will make more money. But enjoy the fun in the failures too).
Elston ended his overview of the impact of fear with the following:
Question. What is the worst place you can live in?
Answer. Inside your mind. You can use your mind as a weapon of mass destruction or you can use it to increase your happiness.
You can have two ways to live; as an optimist (without fear) or as a pessimist (finds fear in everything). Before he left the stage he shared a story with us:
There was once a father with two sons. One son was a pessimist, the other was an optimist. The father of these boys had tried in every way possible to equalize the natures of the boys, but with no success at all.
So, when Christmas time came around he was very careful to purchase his pessimistic son a Ferrari and his optimistic son the biggest pile of horse manure, thinking that this would help change their perspectives.
On Christmas day, he went to his pessimistic son to see how happy his son would be, but instead his son told his dad off,
“Did you not understand how dangerous a Ferrari is? Driving at fast speeds can get you killed. People will be jealous of me so I will have fewer friends, and I will have to spend a lot of time keeping it clean.”
The father was disappointed but thought perhaps he would have better luck with his optimistic son.
When he visited his optimistic son, he saw is son throwing the horse manure all over the room joyfully shouting there must be a horse in here somewhere.
I was unsure about how this story related to the subject of fear, but it made a great point about how your mindset changes how you see the world
If you found this article inspiring, do share it to inspire your friends too and maybe add a comment on what you’ve found fearful and how you overcame your fear.
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