Two recent conversations with clients illuminated how incredibly powerful belief can be. Business owners and executives with growing companies are faced with a myriad of details to review, problems to manage and decisions to make. And while it is easier to anticipate how much capital you might need or staffing changes, it often comes a surprise when uncomfortable emotions are triggered during the process.
It isn’t the passion or eagerness for the new direction that are at issue. It isn’t even that you are doing something wrong. It is the uncharted waters of growing your business that triggers the emotional response. Yes, other companies have grown successfully and you are putting the right pieces in order. The uncomfortable emotions may be
- Doubt -Is this the best way to grow? Am I the right one to lead?
- Confusion – Why are my partners expressing negativity? Why is my staff reluctant to adopt our new policies?
- Apprehension – What’s going to happen next? Will we find the right customers?
This is not some sort of emotional collapse and you are a basket case. It is simply the process of adapting to a new way of doing business.
But let’s focus on you, the leader
Doubt and fear aren’t bad things or even to be avoided. They are simply emotional responses to the ambiguity present in the growth plan your business is following. You don’t know what the outcome will be. The deciding factor is what beliefs emerge with the emotions. For insecure leaders, it is common to start questioning your abilities (do I have what it takes? Can I inspire and lead my team?) or have old stories come up about how you are lacking in some way. Secure leaders (those who use the CEO Mindset) have learned their stories and exhibit more self-trust, tolerance of ambiguity and adept access to their emotional intelligence.
Key thing to remember
Doubt and fear are simply emotions and not reality. Take a moment to consider what you fear? Then ask yourself, “
- Why do I fear this?
- What am I expecting?
- Why am I expecting that outcome?
And keep asking yourself these three questions until you have the story clear in your head.
The story of fear and belief
It is not a question of fearlessness. (That might be a story you need to throw out because it creates an impossibility for many of us.) We cope with our experiences from childhood through adulthood by telling ourselves stories about who we are, how we ought to act and who we could be. In the intersection of fear and belief is the choice to tell the same story or change it in some way. I have had more than one client get an “a-ha” moment when they realized that their alcoholic parent or playground bully doesn’t get the last word on their ability to grow their business. Another client found he couldn’t create the culture he imagined when his company experienced a major financial crisis. Still another client had to leave a toxic business partnership to realize her potential. These moments were all based on old stories that had to be retold for my clients to embrace the CEO Mindset.
Feel the fear and the doubt. Ask yourself what is fueling these emotions. Then determine the truth or reality of your concerns. Are you fearing financial ruin? Well, if there isn’t enough capital, then that is real. If you fear that you are not up to leading your company as it grows, check to see if there is a skills gap or a confidence gap. Learn what you need to know and then practice. As someone once told me, “With practice comes mastery…With mastery, comes the ability to do more.”
Fear can lead you to believe a lot of things. Clarify your stories and let go of what isn’t serving you well while you grow your business.
*iStockphoto by Anson Lu