Is Fear Really the Best Motivator?

subtle colors of blue purple and green around the words How fear impacts your business

The idea that "fear is the best motivator" has been around for a long time. This may be true in some cases, but it can also cause more harm than good when not managed properly. I have coached thousands of photographers worldwide in the art of running a successful business and I can say that the #1 factor that impacts a small business is fear. Fear is a powerful thing and it can cause small business owners to do things they never thought possible, and stop them from taking action when they need to.

Before I get started though, let's set a few ground rules. I am also not talking about the kind of fear that is felt when we have to walk down a dark street to our car or we are woken up in the middle of the night to something wiggling our front door. AND I am not talking about the paralyzing anxiety that some people feel and have an official diagnosis from a medical professional. I am going to be discussing the normal, everyday anxiety and fear that ALL of us feel when it comes to certain situations in our businesses.

Now that we are all on the same page, let's get started. In my practice, I work with a lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs who come to me for coaching because they want help in scaling their business or making it more profitable. One thing that is very common though is when people start talking about what keeps them up at night. It is the fear that we all feel when we need to do things like raise our prices, return an awkward phone call, enforce a studio policy, or send out a new email campaign when we haven't done one in a few months.

You feel it, too. You know that feeling of wanting to run and hide from the phone call or email you're about to send out? That's fear. What I would love for you to understand (and hopefully be a little more okay with) is that this part of the emotions we have as entrepreneurs determines what gets our power and attention. If we are battling fear, then we no longer are thinking about great new setups, marketing campaigns, social media initiatives, and or specials we want to run. Babysitting that fear does EXACTLY the opposite of what we want. It stops us from serving our vision for our business and our life.

Some people are able to shut down fear. When those moments happen, they're empowered and feel the blood pumping through their veins rather than weighing themselves down with worry. Others can't do that so easily because of different life experiences or what's going on in the world around them at any given time. Fear is normal; it's a reaction to what has happened to us in the past and our brain is trying to tell you how to think about a new situation by only having your history of stories, events, and experiences to pull from.

If you have studied with me for any amount of time I am sure you have heard me talk about the Italian Grandmother we all have living in our head. She is the one who wants to keep us safe, fed, and happy and as a result, she tries to prevent us from trying anything new or risky.

She would rather we live in a nice, safe little box with no new ideas or things that can cause changes. If she sees change coming her way she jumps into action and tries to stop it by using our fears to do so.

If you have Disney+, go pull up the movie LUCA and watch the small section at the 20-minute mark where they talk about "Stupid Bruno". It doesn't matter if it is your "Italian Grandmother" or "Stupid Bruno" The key is being able to say, "Silencio Bruno" and get him out of your head.

So when fear starts creeping up in your business the key is to recognize it and ask yourself a few questions that help you know if you should listen to it or not.

  • What am I trying to avoid?
  • What are the chances of something truly bad happening?
  • Has this happened before?
  • Are the scenarios that I am running in my head real or made up from things I think "might" happen?
  • What is the impact on my business if it truly is as bad as I think?

I"m going to guess that if you answer most of those questions you will see that the anxiety you are feeling is not based on facts. it is based on beliefs that you have that haven't been proven yet.

And if that is the case, you need to make a change in your thoughts. It's time to stop running scared and start living fearlessly!

Fear runs rampant in our society but it doesn't have to control your business. When you recognize when fear starts creeping up on you, ask yourself these questions and then shut it down.

Need more help in dealing with your fear? I got you. Asking for help is the first step but I am a fear-busting boss and if you struggle with this, hit that contact button up at the top. Let's talk. Let me help you move past this so you can be the success you deserve to be.

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