I met a fellow named David recently.  He is working on an exciting business project.  There are a lot of unknowns with this project, and a significant financial investment.  As we were discussing the long list of things to do, I asked David, “The scope and risk of this business venture don’t seem to worry you.  How come?”

David replied, “A few years ago, I was working on a construction project.  We were laying out pipe for the plumbing system.  A couple of days later, most of the crew got really sick, me included.  We found out that the construction site was contaminated with highly toxic chemical waste.  I ended up in the hospital for four months.  It’s a miracle that I survived.  Now, really, nothing scares me.  I’ve looked death in the eye.  It put things in perspective.”

Fear is the biggest obstacle between you and your dreams.  When I work with clients, we always start with their financial information.  We bring the company to a Know Financial Position – KFP.  Ninety-nine out of a hundred times we find that the selling price for services has to go up if the business – and the people in it – are going to make any money.

Even with the truth laid out in black and white, in numbers and columns, I’ll run into resistance.

“Well, I couldn’t raise my prices and stay in business.  My customers will go elsewhere.”

Really?  Consider what your competitors offer.  Are you nicer, better, smarter, faster, cleaner, more reliable, more skilled, or more available than your competitors?  If you can positively differentiate yourself in any way, then you can charge more.

You can’t be wildly successful until you handle fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of looking foolish, fear of criticism, fear of losing customers, even fear of success will cripple your efforts to move up the ladder.

Allow me to pass on the best advice I’ve gleaned about handling fear and embracing success…

  • Get the facts.  Dale Carnegie’s great book, “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living” belongs in every businessperson’s library.  It’s full of practical ways to handle stress and worry.  (Sure, it’s all common sense.  Common sense is just not that common.)  Dale’s basic problem solving formula is…
    • Get the facts.
    • Analyze the facts.
    • Arrive at a decision…and then act on that decision.

In scary situations, gather the data.  Fear sometimes fades under the bright light of facts.   The facts can definitely shake you out of denial, and force you to face your fears.

Dale Carnegie also suggests you ask yourself…

  • What’s the worst that can happen?    What’s the worst that could happen if you ask for the sale?  The customer would say, “No.”  Is that so bad?  You can try again with the next customer.  If you were to raise prices, what’s the worst that could happen?  That you do indeed go out of business?  Well, there are other business opportunities.  If you are losing money, going out of business may be a good thing.   Life can get much worse than that.  Consider my friend David.  His method of overcoming fear was a bit more drastic.  Accidents happen.  Use tragedy to strengthen your commitments to what really matters….your family, your integrity, the survivability of mankind, and your spiritual relationship with a higher power.

And, for good measure…

  • Practice being brave.  Have you heard the expression, “Fake it ‘til you make it?”  It’s good advice.  Act as if you were fearless.  Start taking risks.  Start small and build up your courage.  If you haven’t changed your hairstyle in 25 years, w