I remember hearing Dan Kennedy (a marketing expert) say, years ago,
“What’s interesting about entrepreneurs is that they won’t pay for the soft stuff (like dealing with their fears or lack of confidence), but they will pay for the hard stuff (like how to use some new technique on the internet to attract more customers), even though what they really need is the soft stuff.”
What’s interesting, is that over the past few years that I’ve been coaching senior executives and entrepreneurs, I’ve come to the same conclusion. What holds most business leaders back isn’t a lack of know how (though they often lack know how). What holds most business leaders back is something emotional or psychological in nature. And, in my experience, the two top issues are fear and lack of confidence.
The most obvious fears are the fear of failure or rejection, which keep them from taking risks. Why don’t they pick up the phone and call a potential client? Well, because the person they’re calling might say, “No!” (i.e. I might fail. But as long as I don’t call, I haven’t failed … yet). Or why don’t they take the risk of hiring a new sales person? Well, what if it doesn’t work out? In other words, it’s not the strategy of adding an additional sales person that’s the problem, it’s their fear that it might not work out that holds them back. Sound familiar?
The other fear that I keep seeing in executives and entrepreneurs is the fear of success. What if I succeed, what then? Will I become one of those people I said I’d never become? Or will people find me out and realize I’m not all that good? Or maybe they grew up in poverty or in the middle class (or in a church that made success and money evil) and mentally and emotionally they can’t go there. Being wealthy and having money are simply beyond them or possibly evil–so they limit their activity (usually subconsciously) so that they won’t experience phenomenal success.
The other soft issue I see a lot of is lack of confidence. They don’t believe in themselves and their abilities. When they enter a room of successful people they think, “I’m not one of them.” When someone asks them, “Why should we hire you?” they wonder why, as well. When they need to step out and take a risk, they often don’t because they’re not confident that can see it through. Or they don’t act fast enough because they’re waiting on data to back them up or for others to agree with them so they’re not “all alone” on a risky decision.
In other words, what holds most of us back isn’t some new technique or idea that we’re unaware of. What holds most of us back is found between our two ears.
In light of that, here are a few questions worth wrestling with?
- What emotional issues are holding me, and through me, my business back?
- What am I afraid of?
- Why am I afraid of that?
- On a scale of 1-10 (high), how confident am I?
- What affects my confidence or lack of confidence?
Once you have some answers, you may want to take one of them and start working on it. Remember, fear is just a negative expectation about a future event. It is not reality. So, change the expectation, change the fear.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. This also means that when you do your planning each quarter, you should be asking yourself, “What about me is hindering this business?” Because when it’s all said and done, the biggest limitations are usually found in the soft stuff, not the hard stuff.