7 Fears That Hold Back Business Leaders (And How To Overcome Them)

January 5, 2015By
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Get support from your team when it comes to making tough decisions.

There are a lot of things that are on my mind when it comes to GBW. I think it’s natural for any person to have fears. It’s part of life, but it doesn’t have to control you and it doesn’t have to stop you from doing things.

Often, the barriers in our lives are based on fear and we’re the ones that put up those barriers. We can overcome them by thinking about fear in the right way. If we look at it as a challenge and a way to improve instead of something that should be avoided we can do things that others can’t do.

I’ll admit I’m not the best at this yet, but I’m trying to improve. Here are some of the top fears I think business leaders face and some of the ways I think they can be overcome so you can take your business or your startup to new levels.

1. Being Wrong

This one is tough. I think about it all the time. As a leader, you have to make decisions, but those decisions won’t always be right. I have this person I look up to and he’s talked to me about mistakes once or twice. Or maybe I just overheard him talking about it.

Someone kind of gave him a hard time for a business mistake he made. He came back by saying that he didn’t like mistakes, but that he wasn’t afraid to make them. And that he’s come out on top more often than not and that’s all that really matters.

Accept that you’ll be wrong sometimes. It’s not the end of the world. Do the best with the knowledge you have. Learn from things that don’t work and keep working toward making the right choices.

2. Criticism

This builds on the first one. You’ll always have critics especially when you reach some level of success. It’s weird. I don’t know why people do it, but when you’re doing well some will wait for you to make mistakes.

Don’t worry about their criticism. They’re often the ones that can’t handle it themselves. And they also won’t take the chances to do something great because their fear of being criticized is too great.

Focus on yourself and what you feel is right. That’s often the best compass for how you’re doing.

3. Losing Everything

There is always this risk. It can happen, especially financially, but don’t let it stop you from doing something in business. Even having a regular 9 to 5 job is no guarantee. You can lose everything in that situation too. So why not build something of your own.

If you have this fear, use it to build safety nets. Build your skills. Come up with ideas every day so you can rebound if you lose it all. Fear can be a good motivator especially this fear.

4. Letting People Down

You can’t please everybody. That’s a tough lesson to learn. I used to get really down when some clients wouldn’t be satisfied. It still bothers me a lot, but I realize that it’s not worth dwelling on. Some people just aren’t able to be satisfied. And sometimes you might not be able to give them what they want right now. But maybe you can build toward that point starting today.

And when it comes to your employees – just be honest with them. They know that they’re taking on some risk too by working with you. They do that with any job they take. Be honest. Always do what’s in the best interest of the company and you’ll be doing all you can for their sake and for yours.

5. Not Being Able To Handle Growth

This is a weird one, but it’s definitely a fear out there. Don’t let this fear keep you from growing. Every business leader had to start without nothing. They might have had confidence early, but plenty of them didn’t have confidence right away. They grew with their business and you can too. You’re never going to reach the next level of your abilities if you don’t push yourself.

I like to think of Tony Hawk the skateboarder. In a number of interviews he’s talked about practicing new tricks. Each time he recognized his fear, but kept on pushing. It allowed him to become the best and to grow as a skater.

Push yourself to reach the next level. You might stumble initially, but you’ll get there and you’ll do well once you’re there.

6. Confrontation

This is a big one for me. I think it’s in my personality to avoid confrontation. I’m afraid of it. I think it’s okay to have that trait, but sometimes confrontation is necessary. For me it’s about cutting off ties from people that I don’t think I’ll be able to work with, but I need to do it right away instead of letting it fester. I need to get to the confrontation.

And it’s also about recognizing the good that can come from confrontation. Sometimes I need someone to confront me so I can see things as others see them instead of only from my own point of view.

7. Change

This is the last one on this list and it might be the biggest. Change is one of the only constants in life, but it’s something many people dislike more than just about anything in life.

Embrace change. And plan for it.

I worked for a company that had been around for over 100 years. That doesn’t happen unless leadership embraces some big changes in the way business is done. The company went from selling shoes directly in person to door-to-door salespeople affiliates to catalogs to online and they’re still evolving.

Final Thought

There are a lot of things out there that are scary in life. I go through all kinds of fears including the ones above. I’ve found a few ways to get through them and hopefully those tips can help you if you’re going through them. It’s the only way you can grow as a business leader.

I believe in you.