Fear is a business decision


As entrepreneurs, we lead with our heads not our hearts, right?

Wrong. Acting on a feeling in business is how most of us do it, most of the time. “That feeling” we get about a brand new business investment; “that feeling” we get when we have to decide on a new recruit; “that feeling” we get when the phones go too quiet, or when they ring off the hook; “that feeling” we get when we have to decide if the pantone should be blue or teal.

“That feeling” is the hustler’s hunch. And it can be good or bad. True to human nature, bad feelings around a matter of importance can also lead to some bad decisions, thanks to that one lone wolf of worry we call Fear.

Fear is one of humanity’s most misunderstood emotions. Believe it or not, it has a good side too; it’s how you choose to recognise it and manage it that will count towards some of your most critical business decisions along your road map. Here’s our HUMAN breakdown that will help you identify Fear as friend not a foe.

So what’s Fear’s role anyway?

It is both destructive and catalysing. The Harvard Business Review conducted research on Fear amongst entrepreneurs, and defined seven drivers based on the study:

Fear exists in:

  1. Financial security
  2. The ability to fund a venture
  3. Personal ability/self-esteem
  4. The potential of the idea
  5. A threat to social esteem
  6. The venture’s ability to execute
  7. Opportunity costs

This research subsequently found that related to financial security it is a ‘positive fear’ as this drives the entrepreneur’s persistence in pursuing his/her goals. However, a ‘negative fear’ lies in areas like self-esteem, causing inhibited behaviour, as the entrepreneur does not trust in his/her personal ability to execute a venture. It’s important to recognise which side of the fence you are sitting on.

Fear is Human.

We can’t get away from the fact that it’s part of us. Fear is in our DNA. It keeps us alive when threats to our survival are lurking around the corner. But sometimes it’s not real. It’s illusionary – – where our thoughts about what could be dangerous – to us or to our business – are a danger unto themselves.

The Harvard Business Review study concludes that “‘Fear of failure’ is a state rather than a trait.” It is key to recognise that it can be overcome by gaining control of our thoughts, focusing on the task at hand and keeping perspective.

As South Africans, we appreciate the fact that our economic and criminal circumstances heighten our Fear Factor considerably, more-so than in places like Canada and the UK (where the aforementioned study was conducted). Survival mode and high stress are more triggered in our country, which can affect our decision-making abilities and often hinders our ability to build our confidence in local brands, local production and decisions around media campaigns like #imstaying. Keeping your circle of influence seeped in opportunity, and not Fear, is what remains important at every juncture of a homegrown South African business.

Heart-Centred Leadership.

Leading with love is the new tax haven. When we are making decisions and communicating from a place of Fear, where the source is low self-esteem and self-protection, the outcome is separation, conflict, oppression and greed.

In order to thrive and generate abundance, cohesion is important. Heart-centred leadership calls for a focus on wellbeing and safety; on empathy, honesty, sincerity, trust, releasing control, and mindfulness of the impact of words and actions. A study conducted by Forbes showed that 96% of employees believe showing empathy is the key to employee retention. We can create all the educational and funding opportunities possible, but without the foundations of wellbeing and safety, people essentially can’t thrive.

The greatest ROI is healthy and engaged employees who trust themselves and one another. In this environment, Trust eliminates Fear, leaving more space for innovation. By choosing how to respond and react to it, how to use it or lose it when it presents itself, will determine the outcome of your business journey.

Undoubtedly, Fear is a business decision. The question is: will we allow it to drive us positively, or will we let it cripple us from inevitable success? We get to choose.

For renewed confidence in your business, book a one-on-one consult with HUMAN.

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