I’m eyeball deep in revamping my business. In and of itself, that’s not a big deal. We grow, we change, our businesses need to grow and change with us. I get it. So do you.
But what’s one thing that almost always shows up when things start to change, or maybe more accurately, when we notice things are changing?
No big surprise. We humans are big on consistency. We like security. We’re pretty clear we’re not big fans of change, especially change that is put upon us. Change that is not our choice or within our control.
You might think, then, that the fear was a product of the lack of choice or control, but even positive, proactive change that we initiate freaks us out on some level.
We’re all wired differently. Different things freak us out. What’s easy-peasy for me to contemplate doing might send you right over the edge at the mere thought. Ok…we know this.
But have you ever thought about what life and business would be like absent of fear? I used to think that was the goal – to be fearless.
But really, fear serves a useful purpose. It keeps us safe, for one thing. Fear is also extremely informative. It makes us stop and think twice. That’s a very good thing.
For some reason, I’ve always experienced a lot of shame around the things which make me afraid. Like feeling fear (a completely normal human response) made me less than.
So my response, for as long as I can remember, has been to push myself up against those things that make me afraid. It might be a millimeter at a time, but fear is definitely a PUSH factor in my world, more often than a road block. I’m best at this in my emotional life, but it bleeds over into other areas. Thankfully. 🙂
If fear is a push, then fulfillment is definitely a PULL. The best example of this contrast, so far, is what happened when I had to face my #2 greatest fear in life.
My #1 fear still, to this day, is losing one of my kids. My #2 fear, up until 12 years ago, was losing my job. These 3 kids, the mortgage, the bills…the idea of losing my income in the face of those responsibilities melted my brain.
But let’s face it, job security has long been a thing of the past, so the shame of feeling fear around something that could very well happen became the push factor for having my own business. (This is my third business, the first two were network marketing businesses I ran during my employment years, both successful, in their own right.)
Something else was bubbling up into my awareness back then, though. I was increasingly unhappy in Corporate America. I felt like a cog in a wheel, and didn’t see how the 40 hours worth of code I wrote each week as an Engineering Systems Analyst really made a difference anywhere. I felt like a Social Security number who knew how to write programs – completely replaceable. I wanted to do something that made a tangible difference for someone else.
I’ll be completely honest. The first couple of years of self-employment, the pull of finding fulfillment felt more being tied to the rear bumper of a pickup truck barreling down a dirt road. Not much grace involved, at all. I got a lot of cuts and scrapes and ate a lot of dust.
Despite how it felt initially, the pull of fulfillment in my work – of making a tangible difference I could see – is what compensated enough for the fear (ok, abject terror, since I’m being honest) of losing my job so that when it happened, I was able to say no to looking for another job and start this business, instead.
It is also what kept me from giving up when that little critic in my head told me what an idiot I was, and that I should do the responsible thing and go get a job. I really didn’t want to be a cog again. That desire for fulfillment pulled me along.
The result of all that tension between fear and fulfillment has been faith.
So often through the years, I have resisted taking big leaps in my business until I had a reserve built up to protect me from having to choose between what my business needed and what my family needed.
Suffering the effects of erratic cash flow is something I’ve learned how to do with a fair amount of grace in the last 13 years, but making a commitment that might also be subjected to those effects – not cool. Not even a little bit.
But when I look in the rear view mirror, I can see all the leaps of faith I’ve taken in the last 50 years. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. And you know what? Every time, I landed on my feet (or managed to get back on them after having landed on my well-padded behind.)
My ability to solve problems…that clients and revenue will come…that I can weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship – I have faith born of experience in all of these, and many more. That faith has been the FUEL that keeps me going.
Fear. Fulfillment. Faith.
Push. Pull. Fuel.
What pushes you? What pulls you? What is your fuel to keep going? And how do you remind yourself?