If we were to take out a pen out and start writing a list of all the personal fears that a Business Leader holds everyday it’s right to ask how they even manage to function as a person, let alone run a business. But yet they do and their business continues on. It’s not that the Business Leader has found the golden prophecy to overcome all their fears, the truth is, they have learned to manage them. That’s what the team at One Week At A Time are talking about today.

In the words of the famous author Robert T Kiyosaki in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, when he wrote about the subject of fear:

“The fear of losing money is real. Everyone has it. Even the rich. But it’s not fear that is the problem. It’s how you handle fear. It’s how you handle losing. It’s how you handle failure…” (1)

When we talk about ‘what is holding you back’ it’s really speaking to this notion of fear and the feeling of not wanting to move because of looming doubts. In business there are fears that will always exist, just like there are fears in every other area of life. Without them we become over foolishly optimistic. It’s when we succumb to a fear and are controlled by it, that’s when it can become quite debilitating. Fears, once acknowledged can be drivers sometimes, and at other times fears can be roadblocks where it’s hard to see a way forward. Either way, the main thing is to recognise that when trying to reach a goal in business, the fears at their very core are:


Put into practical terms, a fear may present itself in the form of an internal dialogue such as “I have a major 12 month project to complete. We’ll never get it all done as we are. We’re not going to finish it. I’m going to fall behind. I’m a failure. ” This slippery slope of self-doubt is fueled by the fear of failure. The expectation is that the incomplete project will result in personal failure. The fear is completely false because (a) the work hasn’t even started yet, (b) breaking down each areas of a project to evaluate what’s achievable has been done and, (c) the long list of why the whole project shouldn’t be started is what is being focussed on.

The shoulds and shouldn'ts

It’s a slight variation on the “pros and cons” list. The “shoulds” are all those things that you believe are the reasons why something is good to do. Well worth the time and effort. This list is relatively short. The “should nots” are the very long list of reasons why something is best left and not approached.

For example, a person in a team has been missing meetings, unable to reach deadlines and attitudinally has a negative and uncooperative nature. Confronting them about their behaviour and performance will be difficult. Additionally, this scenario brings on a fear of conflict. There are many reasons in the “shouldn’t” column to support avoiding the confrontation. Reasons such as creating a potential public disturbance, experiencing uncomfortable feelings, triggering worse behaviour in the other person and even company property may be targeted. The list reasons a person “should” confront, could be as simple as - find out what’s really going on, have an uncomfortable discussion to get some agreement of what to do. It’s okay to discuss issues because “healthy conflict is actually a time saver….those that avoid conflict actually doom themselves to revisiting issues again and again without resolution.”(2)

The human reaction for shoulds and shouldn’t is to focus on the “shouldn’t” side of the equation. Our brains have a natural negative bias. The “brain is simply built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. The bias is so automatic that it can be detected at the earliest stage of the brain’s information processing….[the brain] reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative.”(3) The way we are built on a negative, helps us in survival and dangerous situations, however if we continually operate on this negative plane we live in a constant state of pessimism and dissatisfaction.

A mindset of growth

Holding onto fears that are unrealistic and imagining a bleak future is counter productive in life, let alone in business. Turning that energy into a different way of thinking can be done. Even at later stage of a person’s life. Developing a “growth mindset” is possible. When we focuss our attention on what we want to become, rather than what we think we can’t become - it completely changes the world that we live in - permanently. “Our brain [can] learn anything we want, our only limit is the limit we set ourselves...many successful people owe their success not to their genes but to hard work.”(4)


(1) Kiyosaki, R. T. (1997). Rich Dad Poor Dad. TechPress Inc. Arizona. USA. p133
(2) Lecioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Imprint. California, USA. pp202-203
(3) https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200306/our-brains-negative-bias
(4) https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-neuroscience/

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