How do I manage a fear of loss?
I fear loss twice as much as I relish success. What is needed to get that bigger gain to compensate for the loss?
In business: It's not good enough to sell just one case, I want to get referrals, repeat orders, or even sign a short term/seasonal contract. Am I expecting too much?
This fear of loss expands to other aspects of life, such as joining clubs, becoming acquainted with new people or groups.
Just keep moving forward. The biggest thing I have learned is that there are always both ups and downs. When entering a down, know there will be an up again.
"nothing ventured, nothing gained"/ "we have nothing to fear but fear itself"/ etc.
there are many quotes of encouragement that can be made, and many books that can be read to encourage, yet at the end--and beginning!--of each day is the courage to face the day knowing that you choose--not someone else--how to respond to each situation and circumstance.
as creatures of habit (we all are with something!) often times we have been conditioned to react according to how we have responded in the past; boxing fighters and musicians each have 'conditioned muscular reflexes' which improve performance. the downside of that for a boxer is his response becomes predictable to an opponent--never a good thing in any fight!
There is no downside for the musician.
much of what we fear in decision making is based on what we've experienced of the past--conditioning. I encourage you to examine whatever conditioning that is---without value judgement regarding it being "good" or "bad"---and refresh yourself to ask the question: "is this how I want to respond/approach this question/opportunity today?".
Invest in secure and diverse stocks and bonds to mitigate losses. Have a variety of smaller accomplishments that can never be taken away (i.e. write a book) and use those things as the stability of accomplishments and ownership.
I think a key is to try to trace back where this fear of loss stems from. Many of us have had bad experiences not only in business but in life. It is very easy for those things to haunt us, especially when making decisions in our business or evaluating risk. As an investor, I look for an 80/20 rule. I recognize that I may make a bad decision; however, if I can minimize those decisions to 20 percent of the time and win 80 percent of the time, overall its a win. Many people become closed and the fear of loss or mistake stops them from growing. If I let past mistakes affect me to the point of being closed or hesitating, I wouldn't have the 20 percent losses, but I wouldn't have the wins either. Just remember to focus on the outcome if you do expand your business and succeed.
You are not alone in this area, most people work out of fear as a driver to what they do. Many leaders have unfortunately, made people feel that if they don't perform they will be fired. People tend not to accept failure or someone that doesn't get it right the first time. The reality, that is so far from what will actually help you succeed.
Failure should be used to learn and ignite our future victories. We need to understand that every "no" is one step closer to "yes." Each time we fall we learn what not to do, take that and change your process. You will improve.
Progress depends on our principles, and our attitude. It is a choice we make to step forward in faith and go for it. If we never try, we will never win. Winners never quit. If you aren't in a club today, or have made a sale today...and you go for it and don't get it...you are actually better off than you are today. You may not have achieved the sale or joined the club, but you learned something to help you for the next time.
I have to end this with a plug...my book, Refined by Fire, is a great resource full of concepts and practical things you can and should do to be successful....foxpoint.net is where you can get it.
If life circumstances were such that a person developed something like Borderline Personality Disorder, it's conceivable navigating the business world would be that much harder for that person. No solutions to offer as there are many good answers here, but maybe just knowing about something like this may help people recognize ah, this is what is Really going on, and here's the framework to address this. Which may be different than for those with garden variety fear of loss.
There are already some great comments.I particularly liked what J. Kris Halley, Randal DeHart and Hal Lumley have said.
I would add my bit of reflections here:
As they say, whatever we feed, strengthens.
If we feed 'fear', it will grow.
Fear comes from a perceived failure of expectations or not getting the desired outcomes.
I present following perspectives:
1. Outcome is a probability which is influenced by many variables.
2. In our planning process, we try to visualise as many variables that we can think of and then put an action plan around them.
3. When we implement the plan and still do not get results as anticipated, it causes disappointment and distress.
4. Recurring experiences start creating lack of confidence and fear even to think of a new strategy, let alone new initiative.
How do we bust this ?
1. Go back to the drawing board- re-examine variables and assumptions. Did you cover them all ? Or you missed on some vital few?
2. Whether your earlier assumptions were realistic enough? How do they look after you add your experiential wisdom?
3. Acknowledge acceptance of fear - fear arises out of ego and ego is meant for self preservation.
4. Fear usually is our imagination of something happening in future. Bring the focus on 'Now'.
5. What is your situation 'Now' ? Are you thinking, breathing, reflecting and alive?
6. Turn your attention on your inner resourcefulness rather on the outcome
7. Take the heaviness out of the situation. Lightness and humour creates space for creativity and fresh thinking.
8. Think 'Process', 'Learning' and 'Success' rather than Result/Outcome. We cannot determine the outcome, but we can give our 110% to the process.
9. Good old 'Patience' is still a great virtue.
All the best :-)
Julie, fear particularly during you first few years is not only natural, but healthy business wise. Fear will keep you from doing real stupid stunts, detrimental to your business's health. try to place your self in your customers shoes, They are after all your business bottom line, are they not? Sales is a slippery slope from time to time, loss can be missing stock, either warehoused or right off your selves. It can also be non-sales, with increasing stock piling.
But in any scenario, it can be helpful, if you choose to look at it in this manner.
It can direct your attention, toward to the right solutions. Loss through theft equate security changes. No sales mean decreasing prices to get the flow restarted. I really would not worry to much about loss right away. This comes with time and exprience.
When I want to understand a client for personal development I need to learn two things, 1) What are you most afraid of and, 2) What hurts you the most? People are all driven by these questions and rhe answers are the key to success but is unlikely that discovery and strategy to overcome will be found in random suggestions or a few paragraphs. It sits at the core of who you are and if you are serious about overcoming fear you need to appreciate the process of discovery, understanding, acceptance and a coping first then a conquering strategy.
Julie, you have a vast range of answers from wonderful people who support and understand the fear of loss, and who have also experienced what you feel. I too would like to three thoughts to this.
1. Instead of focusing on loss, what do you believe are your options to create success, to get the referrals, repeat orders, etc.? List them and look at them every day.
2. If you did fail, in one area, what would that mean? Is your thinking really about the reality of your loss or based on some assumptions or limiting beliefs you have about yourself?
3. Work with a coach to reinforce your abilities, to work with your fear and provide a path or plan forward.
Best of luck.
The best way to overcome fear is with positive action. Fear will never leave completely, it is part of being human, but you can control your reaction to it.
I would advise risk management.
I mean whether for business or personal life, create a snapshot of your situation, determine an objective, create a plan for that objective with at least 2-3 scenarios...i.e. no risk, small risk and larger risk.
Then it becomes a strategic decision, again, whether personal or business.
Choose the one you are full-heartedly committed to and follow through.
And remember, an objective is a dream with a deadline (and a solid plan).
Also as one famous golfer once said...."The more I practice, the luckier I get".
Whether in business or personal life, the more often you take a chance, or risk, the more used to taking a leap of faith you get. And we all learn more from our failures than from our successes.
If anxiety is the barrier to get even to the above scenarios, I would recommend professional help.
Hope these thoughts contributed to your quandary.
Fear is a complex subject with many possible answers. Often the simplest answers provide the most powerful results. Simple is often the hardest to do.
It is a case of teaching your self to be present in the moment. easy to say, yet our minds produce about 60,000 thoughts a day. It is constant effort to be mindfully present. Focus on what you want to happen (not what you don't want to happen). As I write this my cash flow challenges are not now, they are not relevant to this moment. With effort and time inner peace is possible at a minimum an improvement over how you feel now. I do a lot of entrepreneurial training, seminars, retreats etc and we are now incorporating this thinking into all that we do. Being mindful, having inner resiliency is a key component of business success.
Hi Julie, just one more comment to add, and in fact writing this is as much for me as for anyone else. Reading through it seems that you have had a lot of good advice, some useful comments and some directions which may have needed a few more sign post.
However, I have also noted your comments and it seems to me that you have a good understanding of what is going on, but no so strong on the how to handle it, and which is the cause for the question.
I thought about you question and will answer it from a different perspective to the other responses.
All emotions are generated by hormones which combine with our thoughts to create feelings. We are all born with the basic instinct for 'flight or fight' and 'love'. As we grow and have experiences we learn about hate, fear and fright, which are the major negative feelings categories, as well we learn about infatuation, joy and peace.
Survival emotions are designed to move us to action, hence, 'emotion'. Those emotions which do not move us, but demotivate us are designed for our destruction. FEAR only destroys, creates discomfort and decease. So the question is this, 'what purpose does your fear serve in your advancement?', the next question is this, 'if it is not helping you to advance why do you need it any longer?
I would like to suggest that this fear relates to a deep seated inner conversation' about your 'worth or the value you bring?', a concern about 'what others think about you?', and 'do they see the real you that does not feel adequate or as good as others!'
This is a common conflict between the subconscious which is monitoring the belief to find experience to reinforce itself, and the conscious cognitive mind which is acquiring knowledge and experiences demonstrate the skill in a particular area. Human are naturally pre disposed to pessimism, our job is to recognise what is going on and address it.
The first step is to ask ourselves, 'am I willing to let this feeling go?' Sometimes we are not ready, but if we can acknowledge that we are not there, we begin the journey into adventure and challenge and can leave behind the constant clawing of the need for security and safety.
I wish you well in your journey as you develop mastery and overcome your challenges. These experiences will be helpful to someone one day.
This is a big question, and I don't believe this is the right forum.
People are born with risk-avert personalities and changing that would probably be a costly, prolonged psych treatment.
My two cents would be tacking smaller opportunities where the loss would not be great, so even if you fail, you will experience a not-so-bad emotion, and start building your confidence.
In general, start-ups are NOT for the risk averse, but for optimists on the verge of insanity :) (I am such a person)
To have a small amount - Stage 1 - fear is seen to be helpful in ensuring your conscience and self is driven. If it is a fear that constantly occupiers your thoughts and leads you to do things to prevent the fear from happening, would be a problem. Fear is the opposite of faith but if acted upon produces a result.
I have never met a person (at least any honest one) who has said to me "I am so scared and am have sleepless nights about closing a few $1mill deals" I am scared about them putting all this money into my bank account. Nobody - at least any normal person, has a fear of the positive things happening, only the negative.
Analysis the thought of fear- put it away i.e don't think about, make your self think of something else or make yourself think of the opposite. Lets think about "gain" or "profit". Keep "gain" mostly in your though pattern and write the profit or what the gain is you want to achieve, down on your tablet :) and work toward that, instead of given "loss" any of your brain real estate.
When I was growing up I was very insecure and inferiority complexes. I chose a career in fixing electronics this way I did not need to speak to people, at least people I did not know. I had a fear of strangers, the unknown and failure. I would not even pick up a ringing telephone in fear off who was on the other side. One day I woke up and decided that I could not go living my life like this and got my self an internal sales job answering telephones calls and speaking to people I did not know. Here, I was to sink or swim. I swam and still am.
Fear of loss Julie, is only going to hold you back, rather fear gain, wealth and profitability this will get you to overcome the fear meeting of strangers and to ask them for business.
Thank you to all for your time and thoughtful, heartfelt responses. I've realized that if changing the conditioned response of fear to something I like, such as a challenge, that that method of reframing something that is negative into a positive, will indeed attract abundance. Although I do have the winner mentality, I've realized that to maintain the status quo is only keeping me in my comfort zone. Without personal growth, one can only expect to stagnate and fall behind. The fear is stepping outside what is comfortable and once again - doing the thing that I fear the most.
I appreciate everyone for taking the time out and assisting me in the journey towards my authentic self.
Loss is associated with gain, even with finding the love of your life, for example, yet we tend not to avoid it.... And whenever something is gained, something else is lost....we even fear gaining something, because in gaining it, it can subsequently be lost.
A good way to deal with this is to rationalise by perpetually asking: "what if?" i.e. "what if" I lose my job/my partner etc?
What will happen???
e.g. I will cry all night under the duvet and feel all is lost
I will keep crying until I stop, or need to come out and go to the bathroom
Eventually i will feel better, feel like eating
Eventually I will smile again.
Eventualy I will get the courage to find a new partner/job
AND SO ON !
In business, even you "one case" is enough at first, because so much more may come of it later. No need to hurry, think of quality rather than quantity at first....
Loss is a reality of life. We can't always win everything - even the best fall, fail, and falter at times. The difference between the winners and losers is that the winners got back up every time they fell and kept going. When it comes to business, you have to realize that most entrepreneurs have failed multiple times before they find success. Obviously, emotionally and financially, there are limits to how much you can fail and keep going. Sometimes giving up and moving on is the best thing you can do.
The key, then, is having realistic expectations and being honest with yourself. For long-term business success, you WILL need referrals, repeat orders, and hopefully some contracts. it would be great if every case you sold led to referrals, more orders, or a contract. Is that realistic, though? In some instances, it may be, while in other instances selling one case is the win. You received income, which can in turn help pay the bills, make more product, or invest in marketing.
Also, failure is not always a bad thing. There is always something to be learned form a failure. Failing can lead you to move on to the next opportunity instead of holding on to a losing cause.
In conclusion, though failure is a fact of life, what you do with it is what matters. Do not internalize failure - you are not a failure. Though you may have failed at X or Y, it may be the force that drives you to succeed at Z.
Julie.... have you ever heard of the acronym for FEAR being False Evidence Appearing Real? Think about it.
My observations from just your words is; the fear you are creating within yourself is due to a lack of confidence... belief in yourself, valuing you and your abilities to serve clients and others. And that can merely because you don't know what to do and how to do it. You don't know, what you don't know.
The expectations noted above are very realistic business goals you should be pursuing. So now it is a matter of creating a plan, that you can begin to take action on, and as you do, and as you gain wins and losses, you will gain confidence in your movement forward.... We all get No's as well as Yes's... so embrace both, as they mean you are taking action.
So - some tough love for you -
STOP talking fear and shift it to action.
Define the business goals you want to achieve, i.e. # of referrals, # of contracts, $$$$, % of repeat customers, etc....
Then make a list of the tasks and activities you need to take to achieve those goals.
Now act on them. If not all at once; take 3 per day and focus on them until completed.... pick 3 of the same or different and simply work on them - FORGET about the result you get. Take action.
As you do, you will get results you can learn from and/or eat from (income, referrals, etc.) and your confidence will grow and fear will diminish.
Lastly forget about a bigger gain to make up for the loss. Simply work on building on the gains...whatever they are. They will grow as you grow.