Fear keeps us from doing a lot of things in our life, but if you can move past that fear and get out of your head, the possibilities become massive.
It was 1988 and I was suddenly unemployed. My position was being eliminated due to an acquisition. I was 28 years old and the sole breadwinner for my growing family. My wife was pregnant with our second child and we had very little savings. What should I do?
Logic suggested I polish up my resume and start interviewing for a similar job, head of human resources. Surely, with my credentials I could find something decent. I was also given a reasonable severance package, so I had a few months to figure things out. No need to panic.
That’s when creativity and innovation kicked in. Questions like What if, Why, and Why not started rolling around in my head, pushing logic aside. What if I do something different? What if I start my own consulting company? What if I figure out a way to be my own boss? Why do this? And, why not do it? Little did I know that these questions would spark a new, life-changing career for me.
Of course, fear kicked in too. I now think of these fears and doubts as the “Yeah, buts.” Yeah, but you don’t have any money to get started. Yeah, but you have a family to take care of. Yeah, but you don’t know anything about consulting. Yeah, but you don’t have any advanced degrees or credibility. Yeah, but you’re only 28 years old. Who is going to take you seriously as a consultant?
I gave these “Yeah, buts” a lot of thought. On the one hand, they seemed negative and restrictive. On the other hand, they served a useful purpose in identifying and mitigating risk. So, I used the “Yeah, buts” to come up with a business plan. Who knows? Maybe writing a business plan, with thorough research and analysis, will talk me out of my idea.
I also had two seasoned managers who wanted to go into the business with me. They both put in a small amount of capital and we launched a corporation on July 9, 1988. Three months later, both partners exited on good terms. Let’s just say it wasn’t a good fit. I had passion for making it work. They didn’t. There was simply too much risk and uncertainty to make them feel comfortable.
So, now what? I rewrote the business plan, editing out the skills my partners offered, and narrowed my focus to team-building, leadership development and culture change. I then developed a workshop titled “Pulling Together: The Power of Teamwork” and began offering it locally. It brought clients to me rather than me chasing clients and ultimately became the title of my first book, now republished in several different versions by several niche publishers. The workshop also expanded from coast to coast, California to New York.
That’s when my older brother suggested I write an allegory. I remember thinking, great! What’s an allegory? He explained that an allegory is like a business novel or parable. It teaches through characters and events. Hmmm, I thought. I will give it a try. My brother, who is now a professor at Notre Dame, had said he liked my short stories and examples in Pulling Together, so why not write an entire book as a story? Yes, why not?
I then wrote Agent of Change: Leading a Cultural Revolution and it was soon endorsed by two U.S. Air Force Generals, several CEO’s, best-selling authors, and a multi-billionaire. Not bad. So what? Now what? That’s when a friend of mine who was a university professor suggested I write a follow-up book about one of the characters in Agent of Change who was dismissed. This character was bitter, angry and his own worst enemy. I took the advice and wrote Reinvent Yourself: A Lesson in Personal Leadership. That book made the national newspapers.
Let me stop here to reiterate a few important points about getting past fear and starting a new business.
One, it is not for everyone. It wasn’t a good fit for my original partners.
Two, you must have passion and a compelling reason why you want to do it. It is this passion and determination that will help you weather the storms that are highly probable.
Three, pay attention to who you pay attention to. Some people will give you great ideas and advice. Others will give you terrible advice. Stop and consider. Has this person done this? Are they credible? Is what they are saying assumption or fact?
Four, mind your mind. Learn to control your thoughts and delete negativity from your mind and your relationships. There are two sides to every coin. There is a solution to every problem. Be solution focused, not problem focused. Find the silver-linings.
Five, listen to your intuition. It is your link to your higher self – your Spirit. Want to be inspired? Be in Spirit. Tune into that inner voice that wants to do something exciting and helpful on this planet.
Was I afraid during this time? Maybe at first. I don’t know. If I was, it wasn’t for long and it certainly didn’t stop me. I learned that fear is self-created and self-projected. It comes from an untrained mind, a fear-based, ego mentality that assumes the worst. By dismissing the ego thought system and tuning into a higher power, fear vanishes. Anxiety turns into enthusiasm and eagerness. I now call this miracle-minded management. We cannot be afraid and have true faith at the same time. It is one or the other. Period. A shift at this level of the mind changes everything. Find your passion and a paycheck will find you.
John J. Murphy is a global business consultant, speaker, spiritual mystic, “zentrepreneur,” and award-winning author of Agent of Change: Leading a Cultural Revolution (CLICK HERE to get your copy).. He is Founder (1988) and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm specializing in creating lean, high performance work environments.
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