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What’s Your Fear Factor?

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October 15, 2019

Before there was an American Idol, the Voice, or the Bachelor, you might remember the very popular television game show Fear Factor.  Its premise was to create a situation that forced contestants to face their worst fears.  More often than not, challenges involved creepy, crawly things like snakes, cockroaches, spiders, or rates. 

After such a harrowing experiences, I imagine the Orkin Man would be welcome sight. Indeed, for many participants, the other side of fear lay clarity about the irrationality of their fears.

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, how often do we make a mountains out of mole hills, position competitors as our Goliath, or fail to address the small stuff in hopes it will go away? This week we’re exploring what drives our fears — not of the big stuff, but the small.

Acting Avoidant

I’m the first to admit that while I can be incredibly organized, administrative tasks just aren’t my thing.  I’m more likely to prepare for a pitch to investors, or write a proposal than clear the 1400+ emails in my over-exploding inbox.  Don’t even get me started on folding laundry . . . How many  times have you fallen victim to catastrophic thinking or entered the rabbit hole of rationalization such you fail to complete the task at hand?  This cycle of avoidance is common.  And, it draws striking similarity to the fear-avoidance pain model:

experience of discomfort =>  delay the situation by using avoidant behavior => the lack of discomfort reinforces avoidant behavior => rinse and repeat. 

Sound familiar?  Instead, as Marla Tabaka suggests, “ask yourself how many of the catastrophes you’ve predicted in the past have actually happened. Probably few to none. Remain focused on this fact instead of dwelling on dismal circumstances that don’t, and probably won’t ever exist.”

Smaller Stuff

Richard Carlson’s classic, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, offers a few tips to combat the stress, anxiety and overwhelming feelings associated with uncontrollable to-do lists or avoiding action.  Forbes’s 15 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Wish They’d Known takes a different approach, highlighting the outcome of small routines:

  • Don’t do everything yourself
  • Prepare for the long haul
  • Success is a process
  • Ask questions
  • Pay attention

In the aggregate, the minutiae and mundane matter.  Our stewardship of  the ordinary lays the foundation for extraordinary results. So, please, pay attention to the small stuff, even if it scares you.

Smart Work

We’ve all heard the business rule of thumb: work smarter, not harder.  It’s what Roberty Kiyosaki breaks down in his famous cashflow quadrant:

Yet, wherever you land on the spectrum,  task automation and outsourcing adds tremendous value.  Studies show that compared to a full-time employee, a virtual assistant can save you up to 78% on operating costs each year.  Time savings are equally as valuable, too.

The first step is to identify which activities or tasks are: (1) not a good use of time, (2) cannot be completed solo, and (3)  strongly disliked. Then, make the ask for help.  

Just like DNA, we all have different fear factors — some are big, others are small. Half the battle is being honest about kills your drive, then take action in spite of it.


Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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