So, I did it. I crashed into The Big Scary Wall of Self-Doubt instead of vaulting over it or crashing through it.
I’m in recovery now.
I’ve met with a few people who have given me some perspective and some ideas on how to get up, dust myself off, and keep working through my transformational journey.
Some of you may know that during my career, I’ve been a full-time employee and a consultant operating her own business. Both are very fine and noble ways to make a living and, obviously, the full-time route is a bit more stable and secure. But my passion for being a change broker and making a difference is what fuels me. So that’s the road I’ve been on in this current journey.
I want very much to take the entrepreneurial route again — I loved it, it fed my desire for challenges, it provided me a way to pursue my passion and it opened my eyes to all kinds of perspectives I didn’t have before. But, as Robert Herjavec of TV’s Dragon’s Den fame will tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. In addition to having the drive, you need to be at ease with taking risks, willing to make tough decisions, put in all kinds of time and effort when needed, and stay focused.
I recently read Herjavec’s book Driven: How to Succeed in Business and in Life. As with many self-made successful entrepreneurs, he learned some very valuable (and sometimes tough) lessons throughout his life, starting when he was a 12-year-old immigrant from Croatia, to enjoying the life he has built for himself and his family and growing more businesses.
One thing his wealth has been able to do is satisfy his craving for fast cars. Herjavec raced his Ferrari in the Formula Vee (a class of racing for young and older non-professional drivers). In his book, he draws a compelling analogy between focus in business and focus on the racetrack:
Competitive racing teaches you one thing above all, and that’s the complex power of your mind. When it comes to survival instincts, the mind proves more powerful than the body. Here’s an example: you enter a corner at two hundred kilometres an hour and the car begins to spin. Ahead of you, as the car slides along the track, is a wall. You don’t want to hit the wall for a dozen reasons, ranging from losing the race to potentially losing your life. The normal human reaction is to look at the wall; the wall is a threat to be avoided at all costs. In racing, you are taught never to look at the wall, because if you do you will surely hit it, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. That’s because during the few milliseconds it takes to absorb the message – Omigod, I’m going to hit the wall! – your hands will freeze on the steering wheel.
Experienced drivers learn to avoid looking at the wall and fix their eyes instead on where they want to go, which is down the track ahead of them. In other words, you train your mind on where you want to go and not where you appear to be going. This sounds to me like a pretty good analogy for doing business in a competitive climate – look away from the danger and towards the opportunity. Or, if you prefer, keep your eye on your objective and avoid staring at the wall.
I read this passage a few times and realized that I’ve been staring at the wall with fear, worrying about crashing, instead of focusing on the road ahead. I have an arsenal of experience and expertise, I’ve run a consulting business before, and I’m told I’m pretty smart. So why am I letting worries, fears and silly reasons keep me from succeeding?
I’m focusing on the road ahead where I can do what I love, brake when I need to, take the curves as they come, and when I’m ready, open up and go full throttle towards the finish line.