How to we use it to move our companies and us forward? We name it. Say what you’re afraid of out loud.

By Ellen Ercolini (Founder, The Creative Giraffe)

Is fear getting in the way of your big dream? There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who have huge, expansive dreams. They also have a gnawing fear that holds them back from really swinging for the fences and going after them. On the other hand, many founders already seem to be chasing their dreams. They appear to be doing scary, exciting things that most people consider brave and inspiring.

What’s unique about these entrepreneurs is that their comfort zone is naturally larger than other peoples’. So while leaving their day jobs to found a company might seem like a big leap towards a big dream, in fact it’s still within their comfort zone. They have gone beyond your comfort zone, but not their own.

Many of us who have started our own companies have already done something ‘scary’ and are consequently seen as crazy and gutsy. What risks we take! But if those risks are well within your comfort zone, how do you break out and create real meaningful action on your bigger dreams? How do you go that last step further? What I notice is a tremendous amount of successful people, especially ladies, holding themselves back from really living into the bigness of their dreams.

Fear is an eroding force, it’s toxic and the longer you hold on to it, the deeper an effect it can have on your true dreams and goals. Don’t let your big beautiful dreams hang out with toxic sludge.

Here are a few practical steps for not letting fear get in the way of your dreams.

Name the fear that is holding you back. Often times, especially when the stakes are high, we get all sorts of voices in our heads telling us that it’s bad or scary or wrong.

Generally, when we hold ourselves back it’s from fear. Fear can be an important driving force – if something scares you that can be a good indicator that there’s a lesson you need to learn and it’s worth going down that path. Notice I said fear, not terror! How do we conquer fear?

How to we use it to move our companies and us forward? We name it. Say what you’re afraid of out loud.

Write a really specific list of all the things that scare you about this decision. Once they are out of your brain, you’re able to see what’s a legitimate risk, and thus start working with your team to mitigate it.

Make a grid. This is one of my favorite activities to get clear on what I want and really kick fear out of my brain. Divide a piece of paper into 4 quadrants.

  • In the top left corner it should be titled “Big Dreams & Goals” – write down all of your big dreams and goals. The ones that are a stretch, a foray out of your comfort zone. The ones that make you nervous and scared, but that you know in your gut are hugely important to you.
  • In the top right section, title it “My Big Why” – write out why you have these big dreams and goals, why they are important to you. Dive deep here – if money is the first reason you come up with, what’s underneath that? Money is important because I want to provide for my family. Providing for your family is a much more compelling reason than just ‘make money’. This will help keep your dreams resonant for you as we head down to the last two sections.
  • The lower left section should be titled “Things That Scare Me” – this is where we are going to get specific with your fears. What are the things about the above listed dreams and goals that scare you. These tend to be wrapped pretty deeply inside of us. Again, look deep here. If what comes up is “fear of failure” ask yourself why. Perhaps it’s something deeper like, my parents were never able to launch successful businesses and I don’t want to overshadow them. Now we’re getting specific! Getting really specific and clear with the actual things you’re afraid of is the best way to bring them to light andeliminate their power.
  • On the lower right section, title it “Things I Can Do About It” – this relates to things you can do about the things that scare you. To use the above example, if you’re scared of eclipsing your parents, what can you do about that? Can you talk to them about it? Or perhaps work on this with your Coach or Therapist? You have an amazing amount of intelligence and resourcefulness, once see your fears in a clearer light, you’ll be able to look at how to problem solve them, or decide maybe they are not so scary after all.

Now you have tools and understanding to kick fear out of the drivers seat, once and for all. Unfortunately, fear usually finds a way to creep back in, so it’s important to recognize when fear is trying to take the wheel, and tell it very clearly to leave when that happens.

Women 2.0 readers: We’d love to hear how kicking fear out of your driver’s seat goes for you. Share your experiences in the comments below!

About the guest blogger: Ellen Ercolini is Founder of The Creative Giraffe. She teaches generation Y how to make amazing decisions, fast. She believes that inspiration doesn’t mean anything without action attached to it. She loves working with entrepreneurs to sharpen their visions and deepen their impact in the world. Her naturally creative approach to life enables her to specialize in making the overwhelming become fun and attainable. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenErcolini.



Photo credit: h.koppdelaney