About the time I left the corporate world, I had to make some big decisions on how to run my business. What my core principles would be. I decided to use the same principles I use for my personal life. When you own the business, it looks a lot like you anyway.
Some of the values were easy to choose: Be honest. Be fair. Ask before you spend the client’s money. Don’t jump to conclusions. Listen.
Then came the giant one: No fear. Do not make business decisions out of fear. Don’t make any decision out of fear.
It’s hard to keep that one. I had made business decisions based in fear for a long time–fear of my boss, fear of not meeting the team goals, fear of the competition, fear of getting fired. And it was that fear that made me a lousy corporate employee. So, on my own, I decided—no fear.
There are plenty of things to be afraid of when you own your business–not making a profit, not finding enough clients, getting underbid, outperformed by not risking enough. But seeing fear for what it is created the big “Aha!” in my business life.
A decision based on fear is frequently loaded with other weak motives. Revenge, neediness, lack of control. If you take fear off the table as a motive, your life looks different.
“What if my competition underbids me?” Became “How much do I need to earn to make a fair profit and do the job well?” If it costs me $10,000 to do the job, and I underbid at $8,000 to land the job, I am not getting an $8,000 job, I’m losing $2,000. That’s a bad decision rooted in fear.
“I hate Client X, she’s always blaming me for her own mistakes.” I can choose to work with Client X and be clear on responsibilities or I can pass on the job. But if I continue to let her blame me for her own mistakes, I’m letting fear make my decisions. At the end of the job, she’ll either blame me anyway or I won’t respect myself for taking on blame that isn’t mine. Kick fear to the curb and stand up for accountability.
Fear undermines us. It justifies bad behavior. It is the road to the collapse of self-respect. I can’t live my life without fear, but I can look at it straight in the eye and refuse to be bullied by my own fear. There are a million reasons in making a decision, but only one lousy one–“I did it because I was scared.”
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. (c) 2009-2010. All rights reserved. Image:fantom.xp.com