This week, my kiddo had her first day of school, and we both were feeling a touch emotional knowing she was headed off to Grade One (albeit for far different reasons). It was a big change and a great unknown.
And as I waved goodbye at the bus stop, I thought about how much facing that first day of Grade One can teach you about starting that project you’ve been working on, that launch you’ve been preparing, or even that first day of business you’ve been planning for so long.
Here’s the thing:
Yes, the unknown is scary – but it’s not deadly.
Some people get so stressed over all the “what ifs” that they never get their project off the ground. They’re crippled by fear – of success, of failure, of disappointment, of screwing it up.
It doesn’t start off like that, of course.
At first, you’re excited and looking forward to setting your plans in motion… the same way that my kiddo was excited all summer long for the big day when she’d start Grade One. She was looking forward to seeing her friends.
But the night before school began, she got nervous – and a little scared.
That’s pretty normal. This wasn’t kindergarten anymore. She didn’t know who her teacher would be. Or who’d be in her class. Or whether she could handle all the big kids in the playground. There were a lot of unknowns, and she had a lot of questions.
Who would be there? Would they like her? How would she know which class is hers? What if she didn’t like taking the bus? Which teacher would she have? Would she be nice? What about the big kids? Would they bully her?
You might feel the same way about your big day in business. The whole brainstorming and planning phase was exciting as hell… but when you’re down to the wire and actually have to DO this, it’s a whole ‘nother story.
A lot of people back off turning their business plan into reality. They hesitate, they stall. They postpone a week… maybe two. Or three. And some never do that thing they’ve been planning to do. They’re stressed, worried, concerned and yes, even scared of what might happen.
It’s a big unknown.
Yes, you’ll have to dip your toes into a new world – strange new places and situations where you don’t know what might happen. And sure, you’re wondering whether the people you’ll have to market to, network with and work with will like you. Yes, you try to make sure nothing goes wrong. And no, you don’t want to look silly – or screw up.
No one does.
So what? Don’t let that stop you. Little kids face all sorts of scary situations without any choice at all, and they have no idea what’ll happen to them. They get through just fine.
You’re an adult – don’t you think you’re much better equipped to handle this by now? Sure you are.
And if you’re ever really in doubt about what to do…
You can always ask for help. Really.
I reassured kiddo that she’d be just fine on her first day of school, and I helped her know more about what to expect by filling her in on what would happen, generally speaking.
I also reminded her that she can always ask for help if she doesn’t know what to do or where to go. She was relieved. She could ask for help?
Sure she could. She wouldn’t be alone. Teachers would be looking out for her. There’d always be someone who could help her know what she should do or where she should go. No one expected her to have all the answers.
And she felt comforted knowing it was okay to not know what she was doing.
Remember that. Because in business, you might forget that you can ask for help. Sometimes you think you’re all alone and that you have to be brave and tough and face it without complaint. That you’re supposed to have all the answers so people think you know what you’re doing.
That’s ridiculous. Who says you have to hack your way through business? Where’s the rule book that says you have to pretend you know what you’re doing? There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know it all and need some guidance.
Plenty of people are willing to help you with what you don’t know. Really. And it’s no slight on your ability to be awesome at what you do know. They’ll point you in the right direction and give you answers to your questions.
You may even stumble onto someone awesome who’s willing to mentor you more than you’d ever thought possible. Lucky you, right? All you have to do is ask.
Worst case? The person you ask says they can’t help at this time. Okay, fine. Ask someone else who can.
Oh, and by the way…
Have faith in yourself.
While my kiddo and I waited for the school bus in the car, I asked her if she preferred to step out and wait on the street corner so she’d be ready to hop on when the bus arrived.
“No,” she answered (in a very small voice), and I’m sure if I would have turned around that moment and asked if she wanted to forget the whole thing, she would’ve said yes.
Then she sighed. “Okay.”
And we quietly got out of the car, gathered up her things and walked to the corner.
What happened? Quite simply, this little kid knew that even if she didn’t want to do this, she could handle it. She didn’t have to sit there chanting reassuring mantras to herself (like so many adults do). She just listened to her gut instinct. Kids honestly don’t know much else than that.
And her gut told her something like this: It’ll be fine. You can do it. Have faith in yourself.
How did she instinctively know she could handle this situation she didn’t want to handle? The same way you know you can handle uncertainties:
You’ve been through worse.
Think back to when you were just a child. Or a tween, or a teen or a young adult. You’ve lived through a lot already, and you’ve definitely been through worse than whatever it is you’re trying to do in business.
I’m not kidding. When you were small, you had to do lots of stuff you didn’t want to do. Plenty of situations scared the bejeesus out of you, like standing near a huge, lumbering school bus with ominous, mouthlike doors that made you think you were about to be swallowed whole by the Monster Itself.
And you made it through those experiences.
You may have been nervous or downright terrified. (Hell, when I was six and those bus doors opened in front of me, I took one look, turned tail and ran down the street as fast as I could.) You may not have had a choice. You may have been stuck with no way out and no options at all.
But you still made it through.
So your business, your project, your launch, that thing you’ve been talking about doing? Do it. Don’t be a grown-up sissy about it, come on. I’m sure there’ve been moments in your childhood where you’ve had your heart in your throat and nearly peed your pants.
You’re still alive. A little changed, a little scarred, maybe, but you’re here, hale and well. This business thing you’re nervous about?
Pfft. It’s nothing. Take a deep breath… and just do it.