Turning Fear into Fuel

Running a small business is tough! It takes a huge commitment and sacrifice. Then comes the head chatter and self-doubt. It’s often helpful to look at stress, fear and limiting beliefs, find out what causes them and how you can identify, accept and disperse them to rebuild and replace them with what you need to get where you want to be.

This is a synopsis from an episode of the Thrive!cast series of panel discussions hosted by Conscious Branding. Each episode focuses on a new topic and brings in experts to discuss, explore, answer questions and inspire action. For more information, go to thrive.consciousbranding.com/courses/thrivecast-for-small-business-series/.

The Thrive!cast episode, “Turning Fear into Fuel,” was moderated by Alan Wallner, President and Visionary, Conscious Branding. Panelists were Stephanie Courtillier, Founder, Integrous Women; Lisa Poulson, Principal, poseycorp; and Rosemary Davies-Janes, Business Growth Expert, MIBOSO.

Alan Wallner

Alan Wallner

Stephanie Courtillier

Stephanie Courtillier

Lisa Poulson

Lisa Poulson

Rosemary Davies-Janes

Fear in the Modern World

Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger and has been pivotable throughout our evolution. If people don’t feel fear, they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves from legitimate threats. In the modern world, however, the need to protect ourselves from those types of threats has been lowered significantly.

Rosemary Davies-Janes started off the discussion on fear in today’s world. She said there are three things to keep in mind with fear. First is discerning whether the fear is real, second is whether we choose to focus on it, and third whether or not we’re going to let that fear be inflamed by external influences, or if we’re going to go internally. “I hear a lot of people are meditating more, they’re reflecting more and just making choices and keep flexing those choices to keep us moving forward,” she said.

“I want to dive into something Rosemary mentioned, which is this internal versus external,” said Stephanie Courtillier. “Because when I think back to ancestral days, fear, I would only assume, would look like a bear coming at me to attack me. And survival mode is what that fear stands for. However, what’s interesting with where we are today is . . . this external versus internal factor.” The fear is “very real, but only because we’re choosing for it to be that real internally. So once we become aware of that, we now have the first awareness, but then we have the choice to make that difference. Those small little shifts on a daily basis; recognize the power really is in our minds.”

“One of my favorite expressions is: you’re not responsible for your first thought, but you are responsible for your second,” added Lisa Poulson. “I’ve read research that says that our reaction comes in 0.003 milliseconds. We can’t keep from having the initial reaction of fear or the initial reaction of anger. What we can do is pause and see ourselves, that’s hard work, but we can take a pause and then we can choose what we want to say and how we behave and how we think and know.”

How Fear Impacts Our Ability to Make Business Decisions

“We fear change so much and we’re never prepared for it,” said Stephanie. “So it’s how do I build those habits or skills as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, knowing for sure change is going to happen. I’m going to have to evolve and emerge. All of us had that initial shock reaction of survival of fight flight freeze in one way or another. But it’s the ones who were able to adapt from there and not get stuck. How do we shift the questions we ask ourself, not victim mode, but growth mode. And there’s power in recognizing that because we’re all humans.”

“It’s acting not just from the mind all the time, but using the three centers of intelligence,” added Alan Wallner, “the head, the heart, and the gut, and just bringing all three together, rather than just with the mind.”

“I have spent most of my career in the technology industry and Silicon Valley and in San Francisco and we are hardcore pivoters in our world,” said Lisa. “Ninety percent of startups fail; risk is inherent in what we do. It’s just a way of life. . . . Dorothy Parker, a great essayist and writer in the first quarter of the 20th century, one of my favorite things that she said was her writing advice to ‘kill your darlings.’ So, your favorite sentence in the piece might not be the sentence that you need in the piece. Your favorite aspect of your business might not be the thing that survives. . . . So, as an entrepreneur, we have this [COVID-19] now; who knows what we’re going to have next year. So it’s always going to be something so be nimble, have everything in your backpack, kill your darlings and move on.”

Develop Emotional Intelligence

“Getting through fear often means understanding your emotions and how to work with them and how to express them,” said Alan. “So emotional intelligence plays a key role in our lives, even more so as a business owner and leader.”

“Self-awareness is the place where we have to start, so you can’t really see or understand anyone else if you don’t see or understand yourself, because we’re all looking through a filter,” said Lisa. “And whatever our filter looks like, we see everything in the world through that filter. And so we’re here. We are trying to see another person, and we don’t realize that in looking at that other person, we’re really seeing a bunch of things about ourselves that we aren’t aware of. So self-awareness; there are millions upon millions of different types of therapeutic methodologies and self-help and things that you can use to become more self-aware, but just to understand our own biases and our own narratives is really important. And then we can look at the other people in our worlds, how do we understand who they are? So emotional intelligence is really the capacity to see and feel what’s happening with another human.”

“The way I look at this is to really stop looking outside and turn inward,” said Rosemary. “Rather than emotional intelligence, I strongly suggest that people take the time to develop their empathy, their intuition, and also their vulnerability so that we can all relate to each other on a very genuine authentic level. We can feel what they feel. And when we develop those abilities, we also develop this amazing inner guidance system; while we’re learning to tune in to other people, we’re also learning how to tune in to our highest selves, our enlightened selves, whatever you like to call it. But it’s just a win, win. It’s wonderful for us to be able to relate to others from a place of empathy and vulnerability, we know we can sense what it’s like to be them, and we can meet them where we need to. And we can also just gain that confidence, that certainty in our guidance from our higher selves or our enlightened selves as to what the best path is to take. So, trust yourself, trust your gut, your divine guidance, whatever you like to call that place that you go to when you meditate, and the answers are within.”

“I want to give more tangible things that I personally did that were beneficial in my own path to building my EQ,” said Stephanie. “I first read ‘Emotional Intelligence, 2.0,’ by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greave. There’s a fun little quiz; I think that’s the first step in getting to know ourselves, getting to know what am I passionate about and hearing it from a third party as well, or a resource evidence-based third party. The second thing that I did was I wrote a very brief survey that I sent out to people who were in my close network. . . . I asked for feedback and then I was open to receiving it and implementing in small steps. It doesn’t have to be this massive change all at once, but take those micro steps on a daily basis.”

It’s a Bold New World!

All Thrive!cast episodes focus on leading business owners to discover ways to create success for them and their businesses in this bold new world.

To hear more from the panelists on this and other Thrive!cast episodes, click below.