Anxiety and Fear – Use It or Lose It
Brad Feld has a great post titled, Fear is the Mindkiller, up on his Feld Thoughts blog. Being a generally anxious entrepreneur myself, it’s hard to deny Brad’s claim that there are huge advantages to letting go of fear, anxiety and guilt. At least from a wishful perspective. From Brad’s post:
I have long believed that fear, anxiety, and guilt are useless emotions in an entrepreneurial context. When I get into an existential discussion with some people about this, they argue that there are contexts where these are useful emotions, but I still havenâ€™t found them. So â€“ my first advice is â€œlet go of the fear and anxiety (and guilt) â€“ immediately.â€
Brad’s premise is that when you feel such emotions, you should step back, take a deep breath, get away from things and approach any issues that you’re facing once you’re refreshed from your business respite. Totally makes sense and it’s great advice even if you’re not anxious – it’s always a good idea to step back and get a different perspective. But it just doesn’t work for everyone.
Long ago, I gave up on trying to remove anxiety from my everyday business dealings. Fear is something I’ve never felt in day-to-day business, but anxiety and guilt are pretty standard for me. Perhaps as one of the comments to the original post states, this is because of some deep-seated lack of self-confidence. Or, maybe, it’s a fear of failure or even the result of years of psychological issues caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family (just kidding, Mom . . .). None of these, of course, will go away because I take the weekend off.
Personally, I prefer to redirect the energy in the anxiety back into my work, careful not to let my anxiety be communicated to others. Success and accomplishment do a lot to relieve the anxiety, leaving plenty of emotional space to be filled by the next anxious wave of issues that will surely follow <g>.
Seriously, follow Brad’s advice, it’s excellent. Step back and let new light fall on the problems at hand. Often, you’ll find a new path that is devoid of the negative emotions you had previously. If that doesn’t work, though, don’t sweat it. Channel the energy into action. Don’t let the anxiety absorb energy that could be used to resolve the issue and, ultimately squelch the bad feelings. If you end up sitting around, wallowing in your negative emotions, you’ll just feed right back into them, making them worse. Always play offense, it’s terrific therapy.