Several years ago now I came across an extract from “In Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance” by Jonathan Fields
Entrepreneurs live everyday with the fear that whatever they are putting their heart and soul into will fail completely. Will you have ruined your career? Will you bankrupt your family? What about your reputation? A scenario like this can seem unrecoverable when viewed in the abstract.
Disempower Your Fears by Vividly Imagining Your Worst-Case Failure, and the Process You Will Go Through to Recover from It
Write it out. Create a vivid picture of everything you will lose, and everything you will do to rebuild again. One of the biggest sources of anxiety related to this doomsday scenario is fear of the unknown. When you play out the scenario in detail you will see that failure is not as bad as you imagine it, and that everything is recoverable.
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs and creatives have crashed-and-burned, sometimes multiple times, only to recover and come back stronger than ever.
This has been in my “to blog” file for a long time now, but it has also been in my mind. On a number of occasions over the past few years I’ve been in sticky situations where an enterprise was in danger of failing, and in each case I think the team and I have found it helpful to confront the “what if” rather than following what appears to be a natural instinct to pretend the possibility of failure isn’t there. Sometimes confronting reality has helped us to realise it isn’t as scary as it seems. On other occasions we have been able to actively make contingency plans to mitigate the impact of failing in our immediate objectives.
Startups will always be uncertain and the majority will fail– facing up to that (while trying to beat the statistics) is a necessary part of startup life.