Managing and growing your own business is a huge task. It is by no means a walk in the park for even the most talented. You can expect to deal with many unplanned physical and emotional sacrifices. While it’s true that making it will take patience, determination, and drive, the foundation should always, always be courage. This principle doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurs, but to people of all walks of life.
This principle is already deeply embedded in our culture. Think of every hero, both fictional and real, that you’ve ever heard or read of. The common denominator that launches all their stories, that makes them the main character, is courage: the ability not just to dispel fear, but to master it and use the lessons to get things done.
Fear is in all of us. It’s a biological response to danger and it is designed to help us preserve ourselves during stressful situations. Each individual handles fear differently: some may be more capable, while others literally become frozen in fear.
Fear is often the precursor to anxiety, which greatly hinders us from performing properly when we need to. Anxiety can be drawn out from seemingly simple tasks such as speaking in public or taking an important test such as the LSAT or the MCAT.
In the business world, fear can often prevent entrepreneurs from accomplishing important tasks. The fear of negotiating is one of the leading reasons why people get stuck with deals that don’t truly meet their needs. The fear of failure will often turn a business owner away from what could be the investment of a lifetime.
Courage allows us to not only master our fears but to become better than what we currently are. It is, in fact, also the foundation for self-development.
Great, so how do I get it?
That’s the simple part that can best be explained in three phases: knowing, accepting, and preparing.
Courage is founded upon truth. Being able to assess a situation fully offers you a clearer understanding of what’s happening and how you should and can respond to it. By calling a spade “a spade”, you are able to properly judge the reality of the hand that life has just dealt you. This often means that you have to uncover bitter realities and that’s often the exact moment that fear rears its ugly head.
Real World Example: You figure out what the scope of your exam is.
To give up is not an option, but to give in is often a necessity. To resign yourself to the harshness of your reality is the key to overcoming fear. You must make peace before you move to the next step, or you’re going to be overcome with wasteful hoping for what might have been. This is what separates hubris from true courage: the ability to accept your limitations and vulnerabilities, as well as your shortcomings.
Real World Example: You accept that you’re in need of a refresher.
Preparing can come in many forms in many situations. Anything that you do to improve your chances of success for a specific task is considered a form of preparation. Athletes train several months before a competition and, up until the last few seconds before they compete, they are preparing, visualizing, and rehearsing.
While preparation does not guarantee you success, it does guarantee confidence and the vital intellectual ‘muscle memory’ of having been in a situation before. It’s harder to be overcome by anxiety when a situation is so familiar to you that it is nearly rote. The fear washes away and you’re free to rely on your familiarity to guide you.
Real World Example: You start reading again, even opting to hire an LSAT or MCAT test prep tutor (or whichever tutor is relevant to your exam).