One of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The premise of the book is that we each have a Personal Legend—something we have always wanted to accomplish in life, like pursuing a dream career, inventing a new innovation, becoming a published author, or starting a company. It’s a desire that we want with all of our hearts because it burns deep in our souls. The Alchemist upholds that we’ll never be able to escape from our hearts, meaning we will never be able to escape from these dreams, and because of that, it’s so important to do what we love, whatever that may be.
However, our dreams are often dashed by fear…fear of failure, of change, of rejection, or of what other people might think.
How we view ourselves and the world around us influences our ability to aspire and achieve…for better or worse.
So it’s vital that we foster a mindset that equips and emboldens us to spot opportunities, take initiative, ask questions, and innovate even amidst adversity and challenges.
In other words, we need to have an entrepreneurial mindset.
What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset:
Thinks innovatively and creatively to overcome challenges, solve problems, or enact change under conditions of uncertainty or adversity
Embraces critical thinking and unhindered questioning
Actively seeks out improvement and challenges the status quo
Harnesses the power of their fears
Have anything to add? Put it in the comments!
I want to give these final minutes to fear because embracing fear is such a critical part of an entrepreneurial mindset.
Fear can be paralyzing.
It affects our decision-making and often holds us back. These fears can be anything – fear of failure, fear of change, fear of loss, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, and so on.
Heck, I had fears about launching this course because I didn’t think it was ‘perfect’ yet (whatever ‘perfect’ means anyway)!
We’ve become conditioned to avoid what’s fearful.
The attempt to avoid fear is part of what psychologist Abraham Maslow coined the Jonah Complex:
“We fear our highest possibilities. We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under conditions of great courage. We enjoy and even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities. So often, we run away from the responsibilities dictated, or rather suggested by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried in vain to run away from his fate.”
Clenching onto our Jonah Complex is the antithesis of pursuing our Personal Legend. Let that soak in.
Here’s the thing, and it’s no secret — we’ll never overcome our fears until we move through them, not around them. For example, the fear of the dark isn’t solved by turning on nightlights. Light doesn’t eliminate the fear of the dark; it only eliminates the dark. It’s like treating the symptom versus tackling the root issue.
The great news is that it’s possible to rewire our minds (thank you, neuroplasticity)! This is beyond the scope of this module — and there are experts who can explain neuroplasticity a lot better than I can — but, in essence, when we start to think of fear not as something that’s bad, but rather as something that’s uncomfortable, but acceptable, and a normal part of life, our brains literally lay down new neural pathways that enforce this new belief. The more we do this, the stronger those neural pathways become. The mind truly is a powerful force.
Facing our fears isn’t a check box. There’s no finish line. It’s a continuous, iterative process, which is why it’s so easy to revert back to our Jonah Complex, “The evasion of one’s own growth, the setting of low levels of aspiration, the fear of doing what one is capable of doing, voluntary self-crippling, pseudo-stupidity, mock humility.”
Entrepreneurs have fears just like everyone else — they’re not demi-gods, right?
What successful entrepreneurs do differently is that they don’t avoid or eliminate fear, but rather they acknowledge it, harness it, and are intentional about working through it. And that’s what we’re going to do throughout this course. It’s going to be a legendary journey, and we’re so excited you’re here for it!
TLDR: Inherent to an entrepreneurial mindset is choosing to use your fears, and not letting your fears use you.
“The more you exercise fearlessness, the more natural it becomes to not let fear run you.” – Arianna Huffington
Comment on this post:
(1) What’s something you wanted to be when you were a child?
(2) What fear do you want to tackle as part of this course and the process of adopting an entrepreneurial mindset?
(3) Watch this TED Talk and share one main takeaway: Change your mindset, change the game with Dr. Alia Crum