As a leader with a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, you’ll likely experience many moments that cause you anxiety or fear. Whether you’re battling imposter syndrome or simply taking on too much work, it’s easy to feel like you’re just treading water.
Thankfully, there are ways you can address these stressors and insecurities to become the most empowered leader possible. Below, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members shared some “brain hacks” to help leaders overcome these fearful moments. Follow their advice to help you move forward in your business with confidence.
1. Practice Gratitude
The ultimate answer to the fear and anxiety entrepreneurs experience can be summed up in one word: gratitude. It’s impossible to be actively grateful and fearful at the same time. Gratitude is a choice and a habit that can be learned. As I’ve built my business, there have been many sleepless nights and plenty of days awash in fear. Where is the next deal coming from? Can we afford that new hire I really want to bring on? Why is there a letter from a lawyer on my desk? We can’t control what comes at us each day, but we can control how we perceive it and respond. The best thing I ever did in this area was to develop a habit of journaling. My favorite prompt is: what are you grateful for? I force myself to fill up a couple of pages, and this process changes my state instantly. – Daniel Reilly, B2X Global
2. Change How You View Anxiety
Give new meaning to the physical sensations you associate today as “fear.” For example, I get that “butterflies in my stomach” feeling whether I’m about to give a speech for work or watching my kids compete in a swim meet. My default interpretation of the work speech butterflies might be fear and anxiety, whereas, with a swim meet, it’s edge-of-my-seat excitement. With practice, I’ve learned to associate that butterflies feeling with excitement regardless of the context. Life isn’t what happens to you, but the meaning you give to what happens to you! It also helps to remind yourself that leadership growth comes when you’re operating outside your comfort zone. In this context, discomfort and fear are signs you’re moving in the right direction. – Ben Landers, Blue Corona
3. Imagine What The Situation Would Look Like If It Were Easy
When I’m in a challenging situation and struggling to find a way through it, I ask myself, “If this was easy, what would it look like?” and more often than not I come up with some real out-of-the-box solutions that are not so challenging to implement. That question has solved a lot of my “now what do I do” moments, and I will use it the next time I struggle to find the way over an obstacle. Sometimes challenges seem impossible, but someone somewhere (often many people) has already faced and conquered the same issue, so you just need to give yourself permission to step back, take a look at the challenge and ask, “If this was easy, what would it look like?” – John Murphy, eBike Generation
4. Remember Your ‘Why’
To overcome those moments of fear and anxiety, it helps to remember why you started in the first place. When you’re tired, burned out and don’t have the energy to move forward, what keeps you going? Was there a vision for your company you had that you want to see fulfilled? What goals are you trying to achieve? Bring it back to square one and the goals you set for yourself when starting your company. It’s easier to move forward confidently when you revise your plan and make the necessary changes to succeed. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
5. Shift Your Focus Away From Yourself
Shift your focus outward to recall why you are doing what you do. If you have a big presentation to give, focus on the audience and think of their needs. If you have an important work meeting, focus on what the desired outcome is for everyone. The more you can take the attention away from yourself, the less fearful you will feel in the moment. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
6. Reframe The Situation
One “brain hack” I might use to help me overcome these fearful moments and move forward with confidence is to reframe the situation. I might ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and realize that it’s not as bad as I anticipated. This can help me take the next steps with more clarity. For instance, you might be afraid of making a decision about a new course of action, but if you reframe the situation and ask “What’s the worst that could happen?” you might realize that the worst outcome would just be that the plan won’t work and you’ll need to try something new. – Andy Pandharikar, Commerce.AI
7. Keep Your End Goal In Mind
Don’t lose sight of the end goal. The entrepreneurial journey is steep. In times of chaos, burning the midnight oil for a while is inevitable. Problems take longer to solve, whether it’s closing new clients to fill in a gap or recruiting for several crucial roles. Keep track of the end goal at all times. If you’re in the pursuit of closing several clients, the exhausting process will lead to stable revenue where everyone will appreciate your effort. Sitting in dozens of interviews is a necessity to close a strategic role. Juggling priorities is a matter of time until you get to a stable point and progress to the next step. As long as the goal is clear, you just have to push through for a little while and save the day. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
8. Remember You Only Need Your Own Approval
We tend to be fearful and have anxiety because we think about what others think about us when the only validation we need is from ourselves. We don’t need anyone’s approval for us to be happy and confident—we only need self-love and appreciation for ourselves. Once we understand that we need to love ourselves first before anything else, everything will follow. – Daisy Jing, Banish