I wanted to do a fear setting exercise. I think it’s smart to do fear setting once in a while. It helps put things in perspective and eliminate any lingering stress, giving you a clear head to tackle whatever is on your mind. The purpose of fear setting is to write down all that you are worried about or what is occupying your mind at the moment. The idea is to get all the fear out of your head and onto the paper or screen. In a funny way, the simple act of writing down your fears makes them seem much more manageable. Whatever tasks that are keeping your mind occupied, you breakdown each task into smaller bit size chunks. As a result, you form a road map with manageable steps that put your mind at ease, clear your head, and perhaps give you some excitement about your project.
For today’s fear setting, I wanted to analyze my fear by looking at it through the lens of a quote that I like:
“Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over-terrified of its failure.” – Steven Pressfield,
This comes to us from Pressfield’s amazing book, The War of Art. One of my all-time favorites. Let’s break this quote down. Pressfield uses the word “resistance” in an important way. He uses this word as the force that is trying to hold us back from succeeding. Resistance comes in many forms like laziness or excuses. It is anything our mind is telling us, trying to convince ourselves not to do something. Another concept that he pokes at in this quote is the concept of the amateur vs the professional. The amateur is simply someone who talks about doing something. The professional is someone who goes in day after day and gets the work done, finding a way to make money with whatever project he or she decided to tackle. There’s a crucial difference between the two. Pressfield says that resistance, meaning the voice in our heads that talks us out of our goals, is trying to hold back that person who has desires to become a composer. This composer is an amateur and not a professional because he never takes any steps writing his masterpiece. He never has the courage to start. He is too afraid of failure. He is more concerned about the outcome than the process. He is not a professional that puts in the work day after day, taking on his dreams and ignoring any resistance that pops up along the way. Instead, he talks and thinks about writing his masterpiece. He never takes a step.
If I had to pick one thing in my life that I could relate to this quote, it would be entrepreneurship. I talk about various ideas that come up in my head. I think about business and marketing plans. I casually look at suppliers to see what’s out there. However, I never take a real step. There is a resistance within me that is holding me back. I am too caught up on what to sell and waiting for that stroke of genius to hit me with an idea that will send me into being a professional. That is resistance at its finest. In my case, it is disguised as being unprepared. I have convinced myself that I am not prepared to take a first step because I have not had that euphoric idea of a product yet. Am I too caught up in failure that I am forgetting what I want the most? Sure, I would like to succeed. But the thing I want the most is to be an entrepreneur. I have to realize that I will fail and there is no avoiding that. But I will not quit because that will set me back to amateur status. I will learn from my failure and turn that into a learning point to become smarter and better. I am too invested in the outcome of my future endeavor, and not invested in the process. I have not broken my project down into bit size chunks so they are more manageable. The process, as I just alluded to, is where my mind should be focused on. Not the outcome. An amateur is too caught up with the idea of failing while a professional sits down day after day until he or she is satisfied with the road map he or she created. What will it take to become a professional?
It’s quite simple really. However, that doesn’t make it any easier. Becoming a professional for me would mean to finalize what I want to sell. Waiting around for the idea to come to me will not serve me as I think it will. I need to sit down with the mindset of finding a product, and get to work. This may take weeks or it may take months. However, the professional states he or she must do the work no matter what. I do the work until I finish the job. Then I do the next job. Then I move onto the next part of the job, finding how to supply it.
Find out what’s occupying your mind folks. Write it down. Watch your fears lose their strength as you transition your ideas from your head to the paper. Watch them wither as you break them down into digestible, simple steps. If you are an amateur who would like to turn pro, then you know what to do. Do the work. Don’t allow resistance to infiltrate your mind. Once it’s there, it is difficult to get rid of because we get comfortable with it being there. Block the resistance before it gets in your head. Once you have your fears down on paper, create a road map and become a professional. Do the work day after day until you are satisfied with the result. Then keep going. Do not become overly invested in the outcomes. That is a way resistance is using its powers to talk you out of it. Most of the time, our imagination is much worse than reality. Having a road map of manageable tasks will encourage you to keep going. Don’t let failure use you. Use failure to your advantage by changing something that was keeping you from being successful. Be a professional.