The Anxious Entrepreneur
by Jose Morales
If entrepreneurship is about doing what you like doing, why do we feel anxious in the process?
As an entrepreneur, once I decide to pursue and embrace a new adventure, I easily find myself resisting what happens (low sales, unmet expectations), and creating fears about the uncertain future. Fear adds wood to the fire, and the anxiety flames with multiple questions and scenarios of failure.
I found a solution that works with me, I’d like to share it with you, but first few definitions:
Seth Godin defines anxiety as “…practising failure in advance”. In other words I get anxious when I project what happens today to the future, I build trends based on present situations that are likely to bring negative outcomes, for example: If the sales keep so low I’m screwed.
I define uncertainty as the lack of control over the future, it can definitively be a source of anxiety even when the present looks promising. Uncertainty made me feel powerless against a future I can’t control, until I found its weakness, uncertainty ceases to exist when there is no need to control. Do you perceive control freaks as anxious? I do.
Many use planning as a tool to mitigate anxiety and uncertainty. I consider planning is essential by the time it becomes a purpose out of itself, therefore a source of anxiety.
The entrepreneur thrives when making what is known as off limits possible. That’s what makes entrepreneurship a force for change, creativity and realisation. Steve Jobs describes the process of entrepreneurship clearly:
“…you have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing, and it’s totally true, and the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t [have passion] any rational person would give up …” (YouTube quote from 1:50)
The tension I feel in the shape of anxiety is a consequence of breaking my own limits, it’s a sign of my entrepreneurial spirit in action trying to generate change. It’s a mistake to assume that the process of entrepreneurship will always align to my expectations, specially when operating on uncharted territories. Do you see the importance of interacting with a diverse set of experienced mentors?
Anxiety should become an awareness tool, not an oracle of tragedies. Uncertainty tells me that I have power to act today. Calling myself an entrepreneur should refresh my mind to the realisation that some tension will always be present, that’s what it takes to lead change.
If entrepreneurship is about freedom, it is about challenging our own beliefs first and find new perspectives in making sense of what we feel and think.
Image source :anxiety.org
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