One of my favourite quotes of all time is An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down I love it so much I have even splashed it across one of the walls at One Roof. Notice the way the words literally look like they are falling off a cliff? I know, I thought it was pretty smart too.
Recently, I was listening to a Tim Ferris podcast where he interviews Brene Brown and, in typical Tim Ferris fashion, they discuss the common attributes and characteristics of successful people. They sum it up so perfectly. It’s not that successful people don’t feel fear. Of course they still feel it. We all do. It’s just that successful people feel the fear and do it anyway.
I live by this mantra and I encourage the One Roof community and everyone around me to think the same. Fear is fear. We all have it, experience it, feel it, hate it and at some point in our lives have likely felt paralysed by it. But we have a choice. In a single moment you can choose to let your fear takeover or you can choose to feel the fear and do it anyway.
The question I am often asked is where do you find the courage and the strength? It's so easy to say just feel the fear and do it anyway but hard to put into practice. Here are some of my usual responses (One Roofers will have heard this many times!)
1. Own it, share it and move on
I used to think you feel the fear and should pretend you don’t. I thought it was important to hide it. To do whatever you can to ensure absolutely no-one will ever know that you feel any sense of fear. And I found that this often leads to a vicious cycle of feeling the fear of the fear or the anxiety of the anxiety. I didn’t want to get caught out. I didn’t want people to notice that I was nervous and uncomfortable. That feeling in and of itself left me feeling nervous and fearful.
Now I own it, share it and move on.
It’s amazing how shocked people are when I tell them I was nervous to get up in front of a room of people and give a talk. They always say to me “what are you talking about. You don’t get nervous. You didn’t look nervous at all” And I always proceed to tell them that there hasn’t been a single time in my life that I have given a talk (whether it’s in front of 5 people or 500) without feeling completely and utterly afraid. In fact there was a time when I have run out of the building just before giving a presentation because I felt so overwhelmed with fear (I managed to pull myself together and take myself back into the building to give that presentation). If we talk about it, it’s no longer a sensationalised concept in our heads. And amazingly, we give other people permission to feel the fear and do it anyway because they realise they are not alone in their experience of fear. We all feel it.
2. Forget me. I do it for something much greater than myself.
I am reading Chapter #1 by Daniel Flynn a book that details the journey of Thankyou while at the same time encouraging its readers to think big, be bold, take risks and create change. Great book. Daniel talks about fear as being an inwards thought process where it’s all about you and thinking about yourself which I think is such an accurate way of describing fear. Fear is all about me. I am not good enough, smart enough, experienced enough, I am going to be judged, I am going to be criticised, people will know I have no idea what I am doing or talking about. If we can take ourselves out of the picture and think about our why, our motivation, our cause, the people we want to influence, the change we want to create, then we have the power to achieve incredible things. So when I stood up in front of a room of 300 people to give a 3 minute pitch about One Roof all I kept thinking was I am doing this for all women everywhere. I am standing up on this stage, overwhelmed with fear because One Roof will empower hundreds of thousands of women to succeed and thrive. I am doing this crazy, scary, uncomfortable thing for them. And the second I forget about myself, I have the courage and strength to do anything.
3. Sit back and get comfortable with the journey of discomfort
A mentor, entrepreneur, inspiration and dear friend Catriona Wallace, Founder and CEO of software startup Flamingo, said something when I first met her that has always stuck with me “Sheree get comfortable with being uncomfortable because entrepreneurship is one hell of a long and uncomfortable journey.”
Every single day brings a new and unfamiliar situation that causes fear and discomfort. The more I have found I actively put myself in these uncomfortable situations (public speaking, pitching, cold calling, reaching out to a high profile individual, asking for what I need, testing a new idea, asking for feedback, asking for funding, and so on) the more I get used to constantly feeling uncomfortable. Life will unexpectedly throw unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations our way regardless of whether we are ready or not. The more we actively seek out these kinds of opportunities the more we can get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And if I catch myself avoiding or saying no to something purely out of fear, I do everything in my power to push myself to say yes (sometimes I need turn to One Roofers for the reminder and the push) It can be hard and exhausting but at the same time incredibly rewarding. Such is the journey of an entrepreneur.
If you are looking for opportunities to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs who are constantly challenging themselves, taking risks and facing fear head on, then I encourage you to check out One Roof. Whether for office space, the community or the events and support we provide, One Roof will push you to think and act outside your comfort zone.
Sheree Rubinstein: Cofounder and CEO of One Roof, one of Australia's leading co-working spaces dedicated to women-led businesses. Contact email@example.com