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Embrace Your Fears — How Top Entrepreneurs Use Doubt to Drive Growth How to turn your self-doubt into fuel for your next big step.

By Chad Willardson Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • Fear and self-doubt, while common among entrepreneurs, should be seen as indicators for growth and innovation, not as barriers to success.
  • Ambitious goal-setting and a vision that extends beyond your comfort zone are crucial for sustained progress.
  • Partnering with an experienced mentor can significantly enhance your capacity to navigate entrepreneurial challenges and drive your business toward success.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Taking big leaps toward growth as an entrepreneur can bring on a lot of fear and self-doubt. You also risk your reputation in a way. What will others think about you? What if you completely fail? Why are you so ambitious anyway? Can't you just be happy with what you have or where your business is today? You may feel that fear of being judged, or you may be hesitant to go for the big jumps because of the unpredictability or possibility of failure.

Just know this: Every entrepreneur faces challenges and failures and feels self-doubt from time to time. That doesn't even disappear completely once you reach higher levels of success and growth. Maybe you've heard the phrase: "Fear is wetting your pants, and courage is moving forward with wet pants." As an entrepreneur, you're going to have to move forward with wet pants many times. These fears are not roadblocks but part of the journey. In fact, if you're never scared or nervous about your goals, you're likely thinking way too small.

As you progress in your business journey, consider these fears as indicators of where you need to focus and improve. It's not about eliminating your fear but about understanding and leveraging it to drive your business forward. By recognizing your fears, setting clear and actionable goals, and seeking insights from mentors and coaches, you're not just moving forward in your business — you're strategically navigating it toward growth and success, one step at a time. You're also doing things that strengthen your discipline and take you outside of your comfort zone. Most of your breakthroughs are on the other side of your fears.

Here's how you can redefine fear and transform it into a powerful ally on your entrepreneurial journey.

Related: 5 Easy Ways You Can Turn Self-Doubt Into Success

Face your fears head-on

The first step is to acknowledge that your fears are a natural part of the entrepreneurial landscape. However, instead of shying away and avoiding them, confront them head-on. Recognize these fears not as roadblocks but as signposts, guiding you toward areas ripe for growth and innovation. Write them down, understand their roots, and then systematically address each one. By facing your fears, you're taking the first crucial step toward mastering them. Commit to moving forward with wet pants.

Create a vision beyond your comfort zone

Setting goals is the cornerstone of progress. Yet, the real magic happens when you dare to envision beyond your immediate reach and current capabilities. Don't just plan for the next milestone; set your sights on what lies way beyond that. Envision where you want to be five, ten or even twenty years into the future. This approach might feel ambitious, even audacious at first, but it's about setting a trajectory that keeps propelling you forward.

With each goal you meet, set a higher benchmark, even one that feels completely unattainable. It'll surprise you how much you are truly capable of. This cycle of continuous, ambitious goal-setting ensures that you're not just keeping pace with success. You will likely surprise yourself when you aim for "impossible goals." Remember, perhaps more important than reaching a specific goal or milestone is who you become in the process of striving toward that milestone.

Related: 9 Ways to Conquer Fear and Realize Your True Potential

Align with a mentor who's walked your path

The entrepreneurial path is full of complexities and unexpected turns. If you're seeking a path of steadiness and certainty, entrepreneurship is not for you. The good news is that you don't have to walk this path alone. Find a mentor or coach who has not just navigated similar paths but has also achieved the type of growth and success you're aiming for. A mentor brings not just experience but also foresight — the ability to foresee challenges and guide you in preemptively addressing them. This foresight is invaluable, helping you navigate your journey with a clarity that's often obscured when treading the path solo.

By integrating these strategies into your entrepreneurial journey, you're not just overcoming fears; you're rewriting the narrative of your path. Each step taken is a bold declaration of your potential, a testament to your resilience and a milestone in your journey toward unprecedented success.

It's very important for you to remember that this entrepreneurial journey you're on is not just about the milestones or the achievements or revenue targets. It's about you — yes, you — becoming the person who can reach those heights as a leader. It's about the grit and grind, the fears and doubts, and how you face and overcome them. Every big name out there, every success story you admire, they've all had their moments of doubt, their own moments of hesitating, standing there with their wet pants. But what set them apart? They kept moving forward, determined to succeed.

Related: 12 Things You Need to Know About Fear, and How You Can Be a Better Entrepreneur Because of It

So, here's my parting thought for you: Embrace the mess, the uncertainty, the fear. Let it fuel you, not freeze you. You're not just building a business; you're building yourself and all the people on your team that you lead. Every setback, every fear overcome, is shaping you into the entrepreneur, the person, you're meant to be. Your journey is unique, and so is your destination. Don't shy away from setting those audacious goals, seeking that wise mentor or coach, and, most importantly, believing in yourself and your cause. You've got this, not because it's easy, but because you're capable of tackling the hard stuff. Here's to moving forward, wet pants and all, towards a future you're creating every single day.

Chad Willardson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Platinum Elevated & Pacific Capital, 5X Best-Selling Author

Chad Willardson is the Founder and President of Pacific Capital, a fiduciary wealth advisory firm serving high-net-worth entrepreneurs and families. Alongside being one of the top wealth management experts in the country, Willardson is also a three-time best-selling author.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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