Overcoming Fear

(Above) Photo by Emily Long

In Business, Sometimes It’s Just About Overcoming Fear

 

Business consultant Peter Drucker once said, “Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Time and time again, business leaders are confronted with fear but need to make a critical decision in the wake of that fear.  For these men and women, it’s not fear itself, but the ability to push past it, that has led them down a path of success. Read on to learn more about how these inspiring individuals confront fear head on and let it shape their actions and insights.

 

By Christina Cannon

Kenyada “Kiki” Williams (Above)

On-Air Personality, Brewer Media Group

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: Getting behind the mic was the absolute scariest thing I’ve ever done. When I went live for the first time, I had only been practicing on the switchboard for several days, and it felt as if my mentors, Magic Crutcher and Keith Landecker, had thrown me to the wolves. It took some time, but I came to realize that they didn’t want me to fail. On the contrary, they pushed me because they believed in me. I ended up speaking too fast, stuttering over all my words, and pushing all the wrong buttons. I just knew I was going to be fired, but my mentor, who also happens to be my mom, Salica, taught me that I was stronger than I ever imagined. I guess she was on to something because I ended up having a show with top ratings that’s been on-air for almost a decade.

Q: What fear have you overcome that has been crucial to your success?

A: The biggest fear that I’ve had to overcome is that of relying on what people think of me. I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have control over everything. In this industry, there is always room for complications. My strategy has been to not rush, take my time, and just hope and pray for the best delivery that I can give. I’ve had to learn that perfection does not happen overnight, and at the end of the day, we are all only human.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear is an emotion that can easily control you if you let it, and for some, it’s a source of extreme anxiety that can cause negative outcomes. A good thing about fear is knowing that once you have overcome a fear, it holds no power over you. At that point, it is a thing of the past, and you can move forward living your life with more confidence.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: Prayer is something that has always worked for me. It also helps to get back to basics and just take deep breaths until you are able to regain focus. Don’t let fear be the handicap that lets an amazing opportunity slip away.

(Photo by Rich Smith)

 

Marcus Shaw

CEO, CO.LAB

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: Early in my career, I used to have fear around transitions. I left the engineering industry to transition to business school and from there went to Wall Street. Each one of those transitions brought me a lot of fear and anxiety, but each one of them was a positive change. I gained tremendous experience and lifelong relationships through these changes. I now look forward to transitions rather than fear them. The greater and scarier the risk, often the bigger the reward. Learning to appreciate change instead of fear has been key in my success.

Q: What fear have you overcome that has been crucial to your success?

A: I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by finance and investment, and in that world, fear and greed are some of the biggest motivators. Fear was certainly one of my motivators, and I found myself, at times, being fearful of uncertainty. Fear of uncertainty is what has to be overcome. One way you can do that is by improving your resilience. When you have the confidence that you can recover from a setback, uncertainty is less scary. We all fear loss, but by building your knowledge, relationships, and confidence, fear begins to naturally abate. That’s what I try to teach the entrepreneurs at CO.LAB, and that’s also what I try to teach my children.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear can be a great motivator for action, even if your action is deciding not to take action. Fear can also reveal our own blind spots, which can in turn lead to self-improvement and can drive life-changing insights. As a con, if we don’t have the important and necessary conversations about what scares us, fear can begin to cloud our judgment. Fear without introspection can foster bias, which can be dangerous and lead to lost opportunities.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: I would say that in an environment where uncertainty is at its highest, the reward for overcoming fear is the greatest. 

(Photo by Emily Long)

 

Chanda Chambers

President/Owner, Chambers Welding & Fabrication, Corp.

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: I don’t know that someone can really overcome fear for good. Currently, I am facing fear. What was normal and routine has become uncertain and unstructured as an entrepreneur and parent. I don’t know if I have overcome this fear, but I definitely have embraced the change and learned to become transparent with employees, vendors, and my daughter, Layah.

Q: What fear have you overcome that has been crucial to your success? 

A: My biggest fear was starting Chambers Welding & Fabrication, Corp. as not only a woman, but a woman of color, in what is a predominately male business. To top it off, not knowing the welding trade prior to meeting my husband, Brent, played into that fear. I was able to overcome this fear by having the right people in my corner, and I focused on what I brought to the table as a woman of color in a predominately male business. I became more determined to invest in our community by encouraging and introducing women, veterans, minorities, and people with criminal history to learn the trade.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear can be healthy. It’s a natural survival response you need to keep yourself safe. Fear is energy, and it can give you a sense of empowerment. Fear becomes unhealthy when it cripples your will to fight and overcome. I believe it comes down to a person’s personality as to which you let happen.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: If you are challenged by fear, reach out to others in your community who are skilled at working with small businesses. CO.LAB, Incubator, Launch, and TVFCU are all great organizations. Chattanooga has phenomenal resources to support small businesses. Utilize them.

(Photo Courtesy of AR Homes/GenTech Construction, LLC)

 

Duane Horton

President, Scenic Land Company, LLC  |  Owner, GenTech Construction, LLC

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: Overcoming fear requires focus, commitment, and wisdom. There was a time our investment and development groups were facing a hostile takeover on a critical project. We had an engaged advisor represent our interest, but when reality hit, fear did as well. We were blessed with a board and partners who provided great wisdom regarding when to be patient and when to take action. Fear cannot be overcome with brute force or determination alone. It takes the application of wisdom with prayer and solid counsel from those who care for you.

Q: What fear have you overcome that has been crucial to your success?

A: One of my greatest fears is letting others down or others suffering because of some action I caused. Understanding that we really have little control of most circumstances and the best of our plans can fail, I do my best with full disclosure that there are risks that we will face together as they come. There are times that I have allowed that fear to keep me from taking action in order to protect others, and there have been times I have taken strong action when a different approach would have been best. I am continuing to learn and gain wisdom, but I have been blessed tremendously by people who have not just invested their money but have also invested themselves in my life.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear is, at its base, an emotional response. Fear is crucial to grab all of our attention to bring full awareness to an issue and focus on that issue. The awareness of a situation may cause us to be cautious or take a different path to avoid unnecessary risk. Sometimes, the awareness may identify an opportunity that, along with proper planning and preparedness, can lead to great rewards and fulfillment.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: Fear should never be ignored, but it should always be overcome. Hope for the best. Plan for the worst. Be prepared for both. And remember fear is just an emotion. It can only control you if you allow it to.

(Photo Courtesy of Ace Chapman)

 

Ace Chapman

Fund Manager, Sleeping Beauty Fund

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: When I was starting off, it was scary to not have a background in entrepreneurship. Even after my second acquisition, I knew that if I failed there wasn’t a safety net. I didn’t have a degree to fall back on. I didn’t have family money to fall back on. If things didn’t work out, it was up to me to figure it out, and so there was that fear. I was able to convert it into a healthy fear that kept me working late on those nights when I was tired and kept me dealing with any stressful situations that came up.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear can be a great motivator, and I don’t think that it has to be tied to a negative emotion. I think fear can actually create a fun atmosphere. I liken it to sports. If you’re playing basketball and you’re down and think you might lose the game, there’s a little bit of fear there that’s a part of the mix of emotions that comes together to create the excitement. It’s also like if you go to see a movie and everything is hunky-dory the whole time. No one wants to sit through that. It’s the same for life. There has to be a little bit of fear there to create a life that’s exciting and truly worth living.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: I think having fear is healthy. Some people might say you need to get rid of it before you can start, but I like the idea of accepting the fear, recognizing it, and trying to understand what’s causing it. When it comes to being fearful, a lot of the times people don’t understand what they are afraid of. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who forced me to walk through what would happen if a business didn’t work. For the average person, your mind goes to you lying in a ditch, starving, begging passerbys – but that’s just not reality. Maybe you’re late on rent, maybe you have to move into your mom’s basement, or maybe your credit takes a hit. The reality is rarely the boogeyman you’ve painted it out to be in your mind.

(Photo by Rich Smith)

 

Susan Raschal, DO

Founder, Covenant Allergy & Asthma Care

Q: Talk about a specific time in your business career when you felt fearful and were able to push past that fear. How did you overcome that feeling?

A: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I feared I would be unable to care for my family. My diagnosis created the potential inability to financially support my family of five. I also had to face a fear of failure when I decided to establish a new practice. I resigned from a highly respected practice to open a faith-based allergy and asthma clinic during an economic recession, which was viewed as financial suicide. In addition, I lost one of my younger sisters to breast cancer and the other to lung cancer, and our office was hit by the recent tornado. All of these events have caused me to question whether or not I had the emotional strength to carry on, but with a combination of goal-setting and my faith in God, I was able to push past these fears. I’ve also come to realize that we suffer more in our imagination than in reality.

Q: What fear have you overcome that has been crucial to your success?

A: I have overcome the fear of loss, failure, and death. I’ve encountered these and am still standing.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of fear?

A: Fear can be both paralyzing and motivating. It’s a basic human emotion, and the fight-or-flight response is designed to protect us. Fear can stimulate intense focus, alertness, survival, and encouragement, and it can propel imagination and lead us to create positive outcomes.

Q: What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a new venture but finds themself paralyzed by fear?

A: I like Tim Ferris’ teachings to define, prevent, and repair your relationship with fear. Ask yourself ‘what if’ and then conjure the worst-case scenarios for your fear. Ask yourself what you can do to prevent that feared outcome, and then, if the worst-case scenario occurred, how would you repair it. Lean on God, friends, and educators, and if you can answer yes to two of the following questions, proceed with cautious optimism: Do you love this venture more than you love yourself? Is the venture realistic? Do you have or know someone willing to assist who has the skills and knowledge to complete it? Will this venture benefit others aside from yourself? Will the cost of inaction be worse than the cost of action? 

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