Slaying Dragons Entrepreneur Style

Beat the Fear Factor and Achieve Your Goals!

By Donald J. Strankowski

With any new business, the fear of failing is a daily occurrence.  Concerns about capital, competition, meeting payroll, driving revenues, and promotion are usually foremost in the entrepreneur’s mind.  All out paranoia and constant worry are detrimental to one’s success.  You must proceed ahead in spite of your fears, accepting the fact that you may crash and burn and have to start over.  Many of today’s successful businesses are the result of starting over. Once you have accepted the fact that you are going to ride the storm out no matter what, the entire day-to-day operations of starting and running your own business becomes much easier.  Accept the fact that you will fall and skin your knees—a lot—and view each occurrence as a learning experience rather than a setback.  As Henry David Thoreau once stated, “Move confidently in the direction of your dreams!”

The Role of Courage

Perhaps the most important determinant of your level of achievement is the characteristic of courage.  A courageous person can accomplish just about anything in life.  Every great human accomplishment has been fueled by this quality.  People who have made great discoveries or accomplished great feats have all had to persist knowing that there is a strong chance for failure.  In most cases, great feats of courage often overcame enormous odds to succeed.  It took Thomas Edison almost 10,000 attempts to perfect the light bulb.  Jackie Robinson was the first African-American major league baseball player.  He overcame profuse fan prejudice and ridicule early in his career to become one of the greatest players of all time and is now in the Hall of Fame.  Lance Armstrong, an U.S. Men’s professional cyclist, is perhaps the greatest story of true courage in recent history.  While in the prime of his career, Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer.  Not only did he overcome the cancer and make a complete recovery, he went on to win the Tour De France six times and is regarded as the top cyclist in the world today.

Courage helps us to stay focused on what we want and pushes us to head down the path towards achieving our goals without any guarantees of success.  In order for you to run a successful business, you must exhibit a high level of courage.  There are simply no guarantees that your business will take off.  There will always be competitors, some with more cash or resources than you thus, putting the odds against you in almost every instance.  But if you boldly step out in faith, in this case moving your business venture ahead even in the face of adversity, you will be amazed by your own progress and achievement.  It seems that when we make the courageous decision to keep keeping on, unforeseen events play out in assisting us along the way. Courage is an essential element in determining your level of personal and professional success and is a key ingredient in making the decision to live life to the fullest. 

Facing Your Fears

Courage isn’t a lack of fear, it’s doing what you are afraid to do despite the feeling of fear.  Practicing courage is facing your fears head on and pushing through them.  The good thing about fear is that all but two are learned.  We come into this world with only two natural fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling.  Everything else we either learn or is taught to us.  This means that we have the ability to unlearn the fears that are holding us back!  As a public speaker, I often talk about overcoming fear in my seminars.  To give my audience an idea as to how misunderstood the concept of fear actually is, I use this acronym:

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is our deadliest enemy in our reaching our true potential.  Your level of fear determines everything you are and everything you will accomplish.  You need to develop a high level of courage to put yourself into high gear.  You must be absolutely committed to your goal—you cannot just go halfway.  You must be willing to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices.  It is only when you act boldly and courageously moving toward your goals that positive things will happen to and for you.  When employing this mindset, some positive things can happen without really trying.  When you stay focused on the positive outcome you desire, you automatically draw more positive into your life. 

Whenever you feel thoughts of inadequacy or failure entering into your mind, substitute positive thoughts and tell yourself, “I can do it! I can do it!”  Positive affirmations can go a long way because your mind takes what you say to yourself literally.  Do not accept failure as an option.  Do however, accept the fact that roadblocks will occur—this is how life works.  The bottom line is that any worthwhile goal will be a challenge to achieve.

Fear of Failure

A major obstacle all of us face when attempting to achieve a major goal is the fear of failure; of being wrong or of making a mistake.  Fear of failure is usually demonstrated by procrastination and hesitation, by delaying and by seeking out the opinions of many other people before taking action.  A preoccupation with gathering facts and research often indicates a fear of making a mistake.  I call this fixation paralysis by analysis.  Don’t fall into this trap when weighing a career move or any other life changing decision!  There will never be a “perfect time” to act.  You simply need to do your homework up front, plan your strategy, and move ahead confidently, always expecting the best.

“Do the thing you fear to do and the death of fear is certain.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

By allowing your fears to control you, you will cause your fears to grow.  They can eventually infuse all major facets of your life, causing you to stay within your comfort zone and live a life that is well below your true potential.

You need to make a conscious decision to change or it simply will not happen.  If you decide to remain in your comfort zone, chances are you will look back 20-30 years from now hoping for a second chance that will not be there and thinking about what might have been.

Overcoming the Fear Factor

Slaying the mental dragons is a difficult task for all of us.  To overcome our fears, we must first learn to identify the worst possible scenario or outcome in any situation and then accept it.  At the same time, we must also identify all of the rewards for achieving our goal and/or doing the thing it is we are afraid to do. Write out all the rewards you will receive and how your life will be better as a result of overcoming your fears. The more reasons you have to succeed, the more likely you are to.  Tell people about your plans and goals.  It’s very effective to have a support group to hold you accountable for doing what you say you will do.  It also helps to have our own personal cheering section.  The more you talk and think about what you want, the better chance you have for achieving it.

Everyone is afraid.  The key is learning to control it.  All successful people confront their fears on a regular basis.  A brave person acts in spite of their fears. A courageous act can often bring unexpected positive results.  Slay your mental dragons by pushing on despite adversity and resolve to never give up!

Donald J. Strankowski Jr. is founder and president of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a training and consulting firm for businesses, professionals, executives.  He works out of Boulder, Colorado and can be contacted at 303-245-7049, via email at [email protected], or on the web at