Entrepreneurs Must Face their Fear and Find Courage

In a recent blog post I wrote that confidence is an entrepreneur’s most important possession.  Without confidence she can accomplish nothing because she will be frozen into inaction.  Protecting, nurturing and increasing confidence is among the most important tasks of anyone trying to grow a business.

Mark Twain, the 19th century humorist and philosopher said “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain”.  This strikes me as exactly the sort of common sense statement that is always true and yet hard to act on.  It is hard because we often lack the confidence necessary to do so.  We lack confidence because we lack courage.

So where does the courage come from?  I believe it often comes from commitment.  If we are truly committed to something then we have something stronger than fear and courage to face the fear can be the result.

I’m a pilot and a couple of years ago I decided to upgrade my qualification to Commercial Pilot.  I have no practical use for this designation as I don’t fly for money.  But I thought it would make be a better pilot so I studied for the written exam and passed it.  I committed myself.  But things intervened and the 2 years I had to do the flying portion were almost up.  Frankly, I was afraid to fly some of the maneuvers required and I was fearful of failure when I had to take the check ride (test).  So, I thought of ways to excuse myself.

The problem was I knew if I “chickened out” I would also know that I broke a commitment.  That commitment drove me past my fear.  On the day of the test flight the conditions were terrible.  Worse than I’d ever flown in before.  The airplane shook like a scared dog!  But I flew anyway and I passed.

My commitment created the courage to face my fear and the fear died!  What took it’s place was a new capability.  I now knew I could fly in conditions that fear had stopped me from before.  I was capable in a new way.  The capability in turn dramatically increased my confidence as a pilot!  This confidence makes me a better pilot and one who can do more than ever before.

Courage is merely the act of doing what we are afraid of anyway.  The key to killing fear is commitment.  The result is often a new capability as in my case.

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