Monday, May 25, 2009

"Fear" Is NOT Invited Inside

I was tipped off to a blog post on how fear can hurt your business (by Tech Industry giant Eric Ries) from a blog post on the same topic by my favorite European VC, Nic Brisbourne.

Eric will be speaking at TEXCHANGE in Austin next week, and while I have heard of him, I had not before read his blog, "Lessons Learned".

Both Eric and Nic had messages that resonated deeply within me about how fear will slow you down. I am charging hard with my own "Startup Life", as I am following the dream of being a professional speaker / author and working to grow the New Year Publishing family of products. While I did not choose the timing of my leap (can you say: economic downturn and layoff), I have been aspiring to cultivate my own entrepreneurial path for some time.

It has been six weeks since I left the world of full-time employed worker-bee. My wife pointed out that during the first week she thought I was in denial, during the second week she thought I was lying to her.... but now she sees that I have no animosity about making my own way in the world. In the past she had witnessed me entangled in the grip of fear when facing the unknown, but this time I am not perplexed. It just feels right, and I instinctively know that fear will slow me down and ruin my focus.

Eric Ries says:

"Fear is an emotion that slows teams down. It makes us more cautious. It makes us over-invest in prevention. It makes us less willing to trust, to communicate openly, and - most painfully - to take risks. It is the dominant reason I see teams fall back on "best practices" which may not be effective, but are at least reassuring. Unfortunately, these actions generally work to increase the batch size of our work, which magnifies the consequences of failure and therefore leads to more fear. Reducing fear is a heuristic we can use to judge process improvements. Anything that reduces fear is likely to speed up the fundamental feedback loop."

Nic Brisbourne adds:

"Fear of failure is, of course, not limited to developers and these thoughts apply right across organisations. The most effective individuals in startups are those who experiment heavily and when they fail make sure they do so quickly and inexpensively. That way they put themselves in the position to be lucky. The same is true with startups which usually need to try many different options before they hit on the winning product feature/marketing campaign/market niche/business model etc.etc.

Operating like this requires a confidence that comes naturally to some people and needs to be fostered in others. Those of us that are involved in the management/direction of startups will do well to seek out people to embrace this modus operandi and to encourage the development of environments that allow others to fear less and move more quickly.

Life in a startup can often seem like living in a pressure cooker and the pressure to deliver short term results can often take the focus away from the bigger picture of building value over 3-5 years – which is enough time to absorb some mistakes."

While fear is a natural emotion, I see too many people who are paralyzed in business (and beyond) in this bumpy economy. I am finding there are plenty of audiences interested in the message of the power of business relationships and how to navigate the "Relationship Economy", and thus I need to keep on truckin' forward.

I am also excited about the upcoming July release of book number five, "Batteries Not Included: 66 Tips to Energize Your Career" (New Year Publishing, 2009).

Alas, I am focused on the future. I know there are some tough patches ahead, but I also know that there are some great victories waiting to be won!

My two cents about fear: It is lurking out there, but I am NOT inviting it inside.

Have A Great Day.


P.S.- Eric Ries will be speaking at TEXCHANGE in Austin on June 3, 2009. While the organization is usually "Members Only", if you are an entrepreneur or a Tech Industry executive and would like to attend, this meeting will have some open seats. CLICK HERE for more information.


Anonymous said...

You will find "fear" disguised as many things in business. Over analysis is one thing that will be used to cover up for fear.

Brave "entrepreneurs" will take action, while "business owners" (there is a BIG difference) will want to examine ROI until the opportunity is gone.

Aruni said...

Great post. Fear rules our lives in many places...not just our careers. The funny thing is that usually the fear is not warranted. It's good to have a little bit of it but when it's too much it can blind you from what's right in front of you. :-)

Good luck with your new career path!

Xmas said...

That's very write . It in not invited inside.