Every social entrepreneur, including myself, has been there. Fear. Fear of failure, of letting people down and having to go back to working for someone else. If this affects your performance and progress in your business life, then it can create more fear and a nasty cycle of feeling anxious and rotten. Like the cycle of severe poverty that we at Moeloco are helping to break, we must also break the cycle of fear in order to move forward and create the lives of our dreams.
How Can I, A Social Entrepreneur, Fight Fear?
When overcoming fear, a great first step is to reframe it. Fear exists to keep you safe, and the adrenaline rush we get with it is meant to support what action you take to move past the “threat”. This could be anything from writing your first guest blog, to running your first market stall where – *gasp* – people are meeting you face-to-face and asking about your product.
In any situation where you are afraid of failure, it is important to remember that success as an entrepreneur is not always linear, unlike traditional career tracks. When you do come across setbacks as a social entrepreneur, remember that it’s the challenges that can help you to learn the most, and can take you much further than only having an easy time. If you are progressing slower than you’d like, small steps are better than none. To be a changemaker is to forge a new path, not follow an old road. As Rosie Thomas, co-founder and co-CEO of Project ROCKIT says,
“It’s simple but powerful to remember that if the path you’re on leads to failure, you can simply create a new one. With every new path, you’re stronger, wiser and even more determined. That’s true pioneering at its best.”
Where Does Fear of Failure Come From?
Fear of failure often begins from the time we start school, where your time was regimented and mistakes were often embarrassing. One way to overcome this is to think like a toddler again! If there was no such thing as “impossible”, what would you do? You can write, draw or make a vision board of what you come up with.
Don’t stop there: the next step is to think about how you may achieve these dreams, and what challenges may appear. Work backwards, and find the steps, tools and support you need. These days, there is an increasing amount of supportive resources for the social entrepreneur.
Some of the best supportive resources aren’t things, but the people you surround yourself with. You may be constantly hearing that “energy flows where the attention goes”, that thoughts become things, and gratitude gives you success. However, this is difficult to implement when everyone you surround yourself with is unhappy, unsuccessful and ungrateful. Those who are full of positive energy and helpful advice, and who let you have a space to be grateful, can do so much for you and your dreams. Having a mentor can not only provide these, but also more intensive practical support as they’ve been in similar situations to you.
As a social entrepreneur, I too experience fear of failure at times. When I start to doubt myself, I have a trusted tribe of positive people around me, some of whom are entrepreneurs too. I also love to start my day with journaling, meditation and exercise so I’m in a positive state of mind. Keeping positive messages in my office and deep breathing exercises have been very helpful to me when problems arise. And finally, always go back to your “why” to remind yourself why you’re on this path.
Another thing that works for me is that I never let myself get too comfortable. Two examples of this are my Moeloco Youth movement and Crazy Dreamers TV, which have been pushing me out of my comfort zone big time. For Moeloco Youth, mentoring young people in social enterprise is unlike any of my earlier projects, even though I’ve always wanted to help children and youth. As for Crazy Dreamers TV, I’ve never had my own show before! I get to share the stories of other social entrepreneurs and where they’re going next. Both of these are wildly different from the dog-eat-dog ideas that traditionally surround business, but they excite me, and to me they are part of the future.
Being a social entrepreneur is an amazing calling, and despite the difficulties inherent in taking a whole new path compared to what we’ve been taught to expect from life, it’s all worth it.
Until next time,