Finish the sentence: I am afraid of _______!

One of the blogs that I’ve followed for several years now is Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation – I first found her blog when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do as I was leaving the corporate world and I’ve kept reading her because she is interesting, entertaining and best of all, she’s very real (caveat – I haven’t actually met her or talked to her, but she certainly comes across as a real person that you’d enjoy having coffee with!).

Anyway, I had a real flash of dรฉjร  vu when I read her latest post – Do you and your lizard live in a van down by the river? .   I can vividly remember several conversations I had with my wife on facing the fear that if I didn’t get something figured out soon, we were going to be homeless. 

I knew it was stupid (my wife continually told me it was stupid) but it can be a slippery slope, especially when you don’t know what to do next.  And, as you might expect, you tend to be fairly ineffective when you’re wallowing in irrational fears.  Of course the problem with these kinds of fears is that at best they will drive unproductive behavior and at worst they can put you out of commission.

Luckily I was able to get past that particular fear of failure – oh I can still stress myself out pretty good if I’m not careful, but I’ve learned how to mostly keep it under control and not be a major factor.

What are you afraid of?

Making the leap to start your own small business is really hard and anyone that has done it, whether they’re knocking the cover off the ball or striking out a lot, deserves a lot of respect.  I would imagine that everyone in that situation has already successfully faced down some fears.  However, there are plenty of fears to go around:

I’ve met with business owners that have made it past that initial set of start-up fears and now they’re afraid they won’t be able to keep up the pace that a start-up requires (actually that’s my theory on why a lot of businesses fail after the first couple of years, not because they aren’t viable ideas run by smart competent people, but because the owners are exhausted and never figured out how to get things systemized).

I’ve met business owners that are afraid of getting in front of people to sell or to market.

I’ve met business owners that are afraid to hire employees and make that next leap beyond just themselves.

I’ve met business owners that are afraid of success (this one’s tough because no one is going to come right out and admit that, but it can drive a lot of bad behavior).

What can you do about your fears?

As far as I know, there’s not a quick, easy, 1 size fits all solution to overcoming your fears, Pam covers an approach recommended by Martha Beck in her post, but here are few of my ideas:

  1. Clearly identify what it is that you’re scared of – meaning “Write it down!”.  Until you get a clear and precise handle on what you are actually afraid of, you’ll continue dealing with fragments and pieces.  Take it from me, general anxiety is much harder to deal with than something specific, so brainstorm and figure out what it is that’s got you.
  2. Identify the worst thing that could actually happen.  Now imagine that someone else was describing that scenario to you – would you think that was a real possibility?  As an example, my twisted chain of logic for me to end up on the streets and homeless took several pages of writing to describe.  Again, if you’re struggling with an overactive imagination – write it down.
  3. Talk it out with someone.  This is actually really difficult, but I’ve found it to be the real turning point.  By truly exposing your fear to someone else, it becomes much easier for you to recognize what’s rational and what’s not.  I’m a bit biased, but this is another area where Coaching can really be helpful.
  4. Start an exercise program.  This sounds a little goofy, but there have been a lot of studies that show that regular exercise can make a big difference in managing overall stress.  My personal experience over the last year and a half would tend to back that up.  I still get stressed, but I’m more able to manage it and going to the gym is a great way to get your mind off things.
  5. Breathe – you are probably doing this anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ but what I’m talking about is very consciously taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly to reduce your tension.  It’s not magic, but it can make a big difference.

What are you afraid of?  Give me a call or share it here – you might be surprised how common your personal fears might be!

Shawn Kinkade

4 thoughts on “Finish the sentence: I am afraid of _______!”

  1. Sheri Mortko says:

    Great post, Shawn! As we all know, nature abhors a vacuum, so when thinking about our fear, it also makes sense to think about what we’d like to feel instead of the fear. Once we have acknowledged the fear, learned from it and are ready to move past it, it is helpful to know what feeling we’re looking to replace it with. Perhaps in the beginning, we have some mix of fear and say, confidence. Then as time goes on and we move forward, the confidence starts to displace more and more of the fear. Pretty soon, we start to remember, each time fear arises, that is only temporary and that confidence is just on the other side of it.
    Thanks for a thought provoker…and action-starter!

  2. Pamela Slim says:

    Hi Shawn!

    Thanks so much for the link.

    I’d love to grab coffee sometime — if you make it to Phoenix, let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I totally agree with your recommendations. Those pesky fears can work wonders on your productivity.

    I have also found that exercise is a great remedy — it wakes up your body, grounds your frenetic energy, and reminds you of your strength.

    Thanks so much for devoting your time and energy to business owners. They (we) need it!

    All the best,


  3. Sheri – Great point about focusing on something else to keep the fears at bay. I know exactly what you mean and that process definitely works!

    Pamela – thank you so much for visiting my corner of the world and reinforcing your real person status!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously though, I appreciate the attention and effort you give to your readers!


  4. Little Guy says:

    What am I afraid of? I have studied this closely, and what I found was anything I could ever be afraid of is only a perception of a nonexistent reality. So, if my fears are only the perceptions of things that do not exist, my reality would therefore now be, I am afraid of nothing.

    It could be perceived as a very naive or arrogant statement. For me, it’s simply spiritual.

    You’re so philosophical Shawn!

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