Wisdom//

How I Learned to Conquer Self-Doubt as an Entrepreneur

“Deconstruct your fear—tap into its wisdom, channel it, use fear to your advantage.”

Flamingo Images / Shutterstock
Flamingo Images / Shutterstock

As we continued southward, self-doubt arrived to sabotage my daydreams. Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? What if I fail? As you consider your own pursuit of Wildpreneurship, I’m sure that these questions have nagged you as well. My only job had been a brief stint as a ski instructor in Vermont, a giant leap from creating a business in the Mexican jungle. Seeing my drooped shoulders, my dad grabbed my salty pigtails, looked me hard in the eye, and said, “You know you have what it takes. Surely, our adventures as a family have taught you that if you dig deep, get tough, and believe that you will succeed, you will succeed, and no matter what direction it takes you, it will be a valuable life experience! Let the strength and confidence that you’ve shown here on the Baja set the tone for your future endeavors.” Indeed, my parents had taught me to live life without limits—no room for self-doubt. My parents had always been my personal cheerleading squad, imprinting the mantra “believe in yourself” into my psyche. 

“What about fear?” I’d challenged the boys. We’d all become acquainted with this emotion in the past few weeks. Fear was clearly a valuable survival instinct that often guided our decisions in this wild place. If a camp spot felt unsafe, we would move on, if the ocean was too rough, we would not paddle. We mutually agreed that fear is healthy and necessary, but should be consistently dissected, considered, and never perceived as a barrier or excuse. Though fear may slow progress, it also prompts a clear evaluation of a situation, a valuable opportunity to analyze and choose your path. 

Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. It’s part of being alive. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. —Pema Chödrön

Shortly after El Tigre’s birthday, I resolved to use fear as a friend. Our eco-lodge project, just like our Baja adventure, would undoubtedly be heavy with challenge. Fear would keep me alert and prepared. I would use it as my prompt to analyze a situation, breathe, and assess. Neither fear nor self-doubt would stand in my way. 

The next time you encounter fear, meet it head on. Deconstruct your fear—tap into its wisdom, channel it, use fear to your advantage. You must also be resistant to the fear of others. Wildpreneur Shanti Tilling, founder of SweatPlayLive, explains, “You have to just follow your heart and go for it! There are going to be plenty of people around you that cannot see outside of their box or cubicle. You might hear advice or get resistance from people living with a fear-based mindset. Do not let them squash your dream.” 

Let go of the mentality of fear. Instead, fill your head with positive self-talk and surround yourself with encouragement and support—people who believe in you—your friends, family, or coach. You are at the beginning of a very long journey, and support is an essential ingredient. Find the people who pick you up, dust you off, give you courage to confront fear and keep you on track (we may also learn from those who haven’t confronted their fears and have regrets).

Excerpt from Wildpreneurs: A Practical Guide for Turning Passion Into Business. Author Tamara Jacobi. HarperCollins Leadership (Feb. 2020) 

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