The Fearless Lane

I still remember my conversation with a stranger in the sauna, we started talking about everything and nothing, the talk slowly led to this:

Him: Wow, I wish I had the gut to launch something you know, it is not easy. Entrepreneurs are fearless, I’m not. If things go bad, I’m done.

Me: What’s the worst thing that I could happen?

Him: I don’t know, failing so bad that I won’t be able to start again…my time is up. Thanks for the chat, have a great one.

Me: Have a great one.

His description of entrepreneurs as fearless really puzzled me. I am currently the co-founder of Namobrain, a pharmaceutical startup dedicated to enhance the human race through natural cognitive supplements, so I do qualify as an entrepreneur. But I am not fearless, far from it, I have plenty of fears and trust me, they are terrifying. The fear of waking up in the morning and witnessing the crash & burn of the venture is one, the fear of messing up the product development and damage our customers is another, the fear of working too much and not spending enough time with my family is another one, the fear of being so successful that I lose myself and lose everything in the process is another one. Even worse, the fear of never being able to reach scale, build a growing business. Imagine having to deal with all those thoughts in your head, every single day, even when you’re asleep. That’s what most entrepreneurs have to deal with on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurs do have fears and they take actions to stay sane…

The crazy thing is that none of those fears actually matter, nor even make sense. See entrepreneurs do have fears and they take actions to stay sane, that’s the only way. I would not say they face their fears per se, I find that sentence a bit too romantic. I would say they take actions to avoid all the potential nightmares to become reality. Between sanity and paranoia, there is a thin zone where one can proactively work on things under her control while being able to function in society, I will call it the fearless lanes. Entrepreneurs live in that zone, that’s why they look fearless to many.

Within that zone, action is the only currency accepted. Want to spend more time with family? Plan your day, be more productive at work so you create some family time. Don’t want the venture to crash and burn? Work on everything under your wings, trust your partners and always plan for the worst case scenario. Notice how all of those fears are solved by action oriented resolutions. By taking actions, you not only focus on the present, which reduces stress, you reduces the chances that one of those crazy scenarios will ever happen. Although, success is not guaranteed, inactions is the best way to guarantee failure.

You don’t have to go at it alone either, sharing your worries with peers is one of the best way to deal with the stress and anxiety that come with entrepreneurship. You might not believe this but there is someone out there who faced a more challenging situation than you and still ended up succeeding. You are not the first nor the last person who is trying to launch something from scratch, with no money and even friends support. Be willing to ask for help but most importantly trust yourself. Remember, your beliefs will drive your actions, your actions will drive your results and your results will reinforce your actions. So trust yourself and take actions.

It is true that there is a price to entrepreneurship, mental and physical health can take a toll. It is important to surround yourself with like minded individual who are going through the same grind as you, you will motivate each other to stay strong during hardship and most importantly, you will/should motivate each other to stay healthy. Your health is your venture’s most precious asset and must always come first. Do not be afraid to ask for help nor take some time off for health reasons. You will learn how to work really hard without damaging your health, relationships and overall sanity, that’s what the fearless lane is all about and you’re more than welcome to join.

I write about my experiences, entrepreneurship and neuroscience on medium and tweet at @NedNadima.