Yesterday I wrote a bit about the crazy packed schedules I see in the startup world. Don’t get me wrong: hard work is good. Hard work is what life asks of us, sometimes. But I wanted to add a bit more on that topic.
What’s the root of the most out-of-control agendas? Something that we don’t talk about enough in the business world: fear.
- Fear of failure (and thus a fear of being rejected, never being enough, not being worthy, etc.)
- Fear of uncertainty (and thus a need for control, etc.)
- Fear of forgetting something (and thus obsessive behaviours and manias)
- Fear of missing out (and thus an accompanying underlying dread of the unknown unknowns)
Fear is pernicious. It makes you bungle other things:
- Less focus: you need filters on what’s important – if everything potentially is, or if some things are suddently perceived as very threatening,
it’s hard to stay focused
- Less delegation: uncertainty erodes our confidence and makes us seek control, making it harder to delegate
- Less trust: the more fearful we are of our environment, the less we’ll trust the people in it
- Less self-care: fear makes us unaware of our own needs, because threats are perceived as more important to deal with
The hardest-working entrepreneurs I know are seen as uncaring. They’re heads-down in their work. They often know that business is about people, not things. But fear makes them forget.
At this point, I was about to write: “life is too short to live it in fear.” Do you see how subtly harmful fear is? I’m telling you how managing fear is important by trying to scare you!
Fear is a habit. It was useful when you were about to get mauled by a mountain lion and the adrenaline saved your skinny butt. But in startups, fear sucks. I’ll write more about dealing with it (as an ex-super-high-anxiety person, I’ve learned a thing or two).
For now, manage by walking around, even if it’s hard to measure the effectiveness of that. Your people need (to see) you! When you have a one-on-one, don’t glance at your computer or phone. Ask
for personal background stories. Write thank you notes. Nail the basics.