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Let Reality, Not Fear, Be Your Guide

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 1, 2011

As a coach, I often meet clients who are concerned about their finances and disappointed by their income. In most cases, the fear of financial loss creates bursts of frantic activity followed by periods of frustration and discouragement. Here’s how the cycle often goes: A business owner is driven by hope of new deals just around the corner while simultaneously fearing that nobody is buying. If a hoped-for deal falls through, it is natural that the fear wins out and then causes paralysis or overthinking. It might even prompt a desire to give up on the whole venture. This up-down cycle takes a personal toll and can severely damage business performance.

If you’ve experienced this cycle, you know how damaging it can be. In order to forestall it and steady yourself for the challenges you face, below are a few tips that require honesty—and some support—from people you trust.

1. Consider whether or not what you are attempting to accomplish is possible. Our culture emphasizes a can-do mentality, which can sometimes lead to superhero behavior that is unsustainable and is ultimately followed by a crash. The best way to get real is to look at past performance and financial data; nothing grounds you better than looking at hard numbers.

2. Turn to someone you trust who is conservative and practical. Get their perspective—their reality check—and consider talking through your numbers or your books with them. There is no sense in letting fear run you around in circles or in getting depressed because you don’t know what to do. Sometimes a fresh take from a pragmatic ally can send you in a better direction.

3. Give up trying to be positive and optimistic. Self-help literature often enables wishful thinking and illusions of quick fixes. If your gut feeling is positive and optimistic, that’s enormously beneficial, but trying to be positive can waste a lot of energy that you could put into talking through solutions and taking neglected actions. Being honest with yourself might mean accepting fear, concern, or complaints and sincerely focusing on resolving them.

Please do not interpret what I’m saying as being negative or grim. There are few things in life and business more invigorating than facing challenges head-on and doing what it takes to work through them. I wish you much success in 2011.

Michael H. Felberbaum
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Hamden, Conn.

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