Man Up! Fight the Fear and Reap the Rewards!

“I can do it like a brother, do it like a dude”  Despite not being the most eloquent of statements, Jessie J has got the right attitude as far as I’m concerned; especially when we apply this attitude to business and enterprise. Let’s face facts: only a quarter of UK self-employed workers are women, less than 1/3 of UK businesses are female-owned and a miniscule 4% of women are classed as entrepreneurs. Yes, we can hold discrimination accountable to a certain extent but we have to take responsibility for our lack of actions and own-up to the fact that we aren’t hitting the glass ceiling as hard as we perhaps should.

According to Global Entrepreneur Monitor 2009 “more women would start a business if it wasn’t for the fear of failure”. So what is it exactly that makes us more fearful of taking risks than our male counterparts? It isn’t only in the world of business that this inner scaredy-cat rears its’ cautious head- the same thing is often seen in sport.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve teetered at the top of a steep ski slope or on the edge of a freestyle park, too frightened to go and make a fool of myself whilst a bunch of 13-year-old boys on a school trip whizz past me.

Why is it us girls have such an issue about embarrassing ourselves and getting hurt?

Wish you had a bit more of the boys’ brash confidence?

Try a bit of psychology in the form of visualisation or as some people like to call it ‘The Law of Attraction.’ With skiing I realised that I was standing at the top of a steep slope or big jump imagining the worst possible outcome whilst the boy standing next to me was imagining the opposite; how cool it would be when he pulled-off this ‘rad’ trick. Sometimes you can see the more advanced skiers and snowboarders closing their eyes and physically imaging themselves hitting and landing the perfect jump. When you imagine something, you create neural pathways in the brain so that when you are in that situation you naturally do it – it as if you have done it before. Your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.

The more vivid the visualisation, the more real it will seem and thus the more likely you will be to achieve. Imagine the colours, sounds, smells and emotions and, as you see yourself pulling it off perfectly, anchor the feeling by clenching your right fist as hard as you can.

I believe it will work in any area of your life, from sport to academia to relationships to business. Confidence in your abilities is the key and it’s not an easy thing to master but once you have it and are able to take those risks, you are more likely to reap the rewards. But what if you fail? Well ask yourself this- Which is worse: regret of trying and failing or regret of never trying?

So imagine what it would be like to have your own business…congratulations; you just took your first step!

3 Comments on Man Up! Fight the Fear and Reap the Rewards!

  1. It’s true, most pro athletes, particularly those that are involved in extreme sports use visualisation as a focusing technique & there’s nothing to say it can’t be used in other walks of life, most ‘key to success’ type programs are pretty rooted in this too, fear of failure isn’t something exclusive to women either, most guys aren’t great at seeing past it all going wrong, confidence in anything you do can go along way!

  2. I agree with your suggestion: positive visualisation is certainly better than defaulting to worst-case-scenario worries.

    As Dan says, it’s useful in sport, and why not with women trying to start up a biz.

    One note of caution: I positively visualise every single golf shot, but the ball doesn’t always go where I want it to go. The other vital ingredient is practice. However, it’s difficult to see what the equivalent is r.e. biz-starts…..

    I suppose it means learning as much as you can before making the plunge? Or working out what you’ll do if/when you encounter probs? Or finding out how similar businesses have succeeded or failed? Or role-playing the start-up and development of your biz with a business advisor, or just with friends?

    Also, I hope you’re using “Man Up!” ironically!

  3. More on the sport/ business start-up analogy:

    This business about clenching your right fist to anchor the positive visualisation…. I read recently in the Guardian (so it must be true!) that elite sports people who are inexplicably screwing up their delivery (whether throwing a dart or hitting a putt) are advised to “clench the left fist before delivering”. This advice comes from scientists from the Technical University of Munich, writing in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. They say it absolutely must be the left fist “as the left-hand side of the body is wired to the right hemisphere of the brain, the side that controls automated, rather than conscious behaviour”. Maybe that makes sense, because in the situation about which you wrote, it’s conscious, rather than automated behaviour that’s in play.

    I’ll try clenching my right fist for the first 9 holes, then my left fist for the second 9; will get back to you with the results of this empirical scientific experiment!

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