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How to Find the Courage to Get Out of Your Own Way With the new year upon us, what is it time to change? What impact will that have on you and your business?

Key Takeaways

  • Decisions, or a lack of decision, out of fear are constricting.
  • Fear keeps us playing small.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Assuming you have all the courage you need, what action could you take that would have the greatest impact on your life?

That's a powerful question. It has profoundly impacted me over my 18+ years as an entrepreneur. It has precipitated profound transformation in many entrepreneurs' lives.

Recently, at a conference, I delivered my workshop on taking your life back from your business. I concluded with this question and asked attendees to share their responses as they saw me during the conference. Over the next day or so, I was in deep conversation with entrepreneurs, sharing their courageous actions and fears. I was touched by the vulnerability and the difficult life circumstances we entrepreneurs endure as we grow our businesses. There is a profound impact on our personal lives when times are tough in the business. Likewise, there is a significant toll on our leadership when we face stressful circumstances in our personal lives. The work we do on ourselves to lead with love is profoundly impactful.

Decisions, or a lack of decision, out of fear are constricting. Fear keeps us playing small. Years ago, on a teleseminar (back in the days before Zoom!) I asked this question. One of my clients immediately knew his answer: to place a bid on a new building. He placed the bid, and his offer was accepted. His business has since expanded multiple times across multiple locations. When he called me to tell me what happened, he confided he needed a bigger location for quite some time, and the idea of taking out a substantial loan to pay for it made him fearful: "What if I can't make the payments?" What if I am misjudging the demand for our services?" What if we go bankrupt because of me?" These were just a few of the gremlins running through his head.

Related: 4 Strategies to Increase Your Success

Our gremlins are the enemy of change. They demand the status quo. On the surface, they may sound like the voice of reason, protecting us from rash choices we could regret. In reality, our gremlins keep us stuck. Our gremlins come out in full force when contemplating transformative action in our lives and businesses.

One of the reasons I love this particular powerful question is that it surfaces what we intuitively know to be in our best interest. I was reminded of this when I asked this question at the conference. Multiple entrepreneurs are stuck in (i.e., tolerating) dysfunctional marriages and business partnerships. Others have team members undermining productivity, profitability, and good culture.

If you are avoiding making decisions due to fear, instead of dwelling on the "what ifs," ask yourself powerful questions to get out of your own way:

  • What's possible when you stop tolerating this situation or behavior?
  • What opportunities arise when you make this significant change?
  • When others react positively to your choice, what will they be saying?
  • Twelve months from now, what will you appreciate most about your choice to take action?

Our blindspots keep us stuck. Ten years ago, when I was choosing to stay in a bad marriage for the sake of my kids, a good friend asked me what I thought my kids were learning. That one question opened my eyes to a significant blind spot. My fear had me focusing on how a divorce might damage them. Her question made me consider how they might be damaged by staying in the marriage. Her question also got me to consider what good might come of this significant life change. She moved me from fear-based thinking to making choices out of love, knowing that not only could I handle the fallout of a divorce but that my consistent love for my children would pave a healthy path forward for us.

Related: How to Harness the Power of Fear in 8 Steps

A client recently called to tell me he fired a team member immediately following our meeting last week. He was planning to take another six months to take this action out of fear about its impact on production. As he tuned into how much this team member's lack of accountability was costing the business and undermining the culture my client was trying to create, he was no longer willing to tolerate it. He made this decision with confidence in his leadership to see his team through the challenges this situation creates in the business. He made this decision with confidence that he would identify opportunities to do so even though he did not immediately know how to replace the team member. He made this decision out of love for the future he is creating for his team and his family.

What opportunities are created when you make decisions out of love rather than fear?

What are you tolerating?

With the new year upon us, what is it time to change? What impact will that have on you and your business?

I'd love to hear your answers.

Dr. Sabrina Starling

The Business Psychologist

Sabrina Starling, PhD, The Business Psychologist, is the bestselling author of How to Hire the Best and The 4 Week Vacation®. Founder of and host of the Profit by Design podcast, she and her team are on a mission to send 10,000 entrepreneurs on a 4 Week Vacation® in 10 years.

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