#10 Fear of Exposure
I have quite a few fears in my life, and now that I have a wife and daughter, my list of fears have greatly increased.
In my professional life my biggest fear was being exposed. Exposed with being open on what I was doing and failing in front of everybody. Exposed with other people knowing what I was doing, copying it, and then succeeding in the market. Curiously enough though, being reserved was one of the many mistakes I made with past failing ventures. This is a common mistake most of us make. I’ve learned from that mistake now, and I am not afraid of failing and sharing my ideas.
I realized it was naive of me for being afraid of others stealing my ideas for two reasons. One reason is that ideas are worthless and the second reason is that if someone stole my idea and beat me, it saved me a lot of money and time.
Ideas are worthless. We all constantly have ideas, but very few of us execute them. When you think about it, people have many other important things to worry about than copying an idea, and large businesses are much more concerned with making money than trying to test and steal an idea.
The fear of stolen ideas is a valid one, but nevertheless a waste of time. We’re all familiar with how Facebook started. How Mark Zuckerberg “stole” the idea from the Winklevoss twins. But just imagine if the twins never met him and started their own Facebook. How long would it have taken Zuckerberg or others to notice their idea and beat them with a better execution?
Once you launch your product and it starts to become successful, a lot of people will try to imitate it. How you implement it though will be the key for success. If someone beats you in the idea stage, they just saved you a lot of time and money, because once you had launched the product, they would probably still work with your idea, no matter what. There is no valid reason for being scared to share your ideas and being mysterious. Focus on your execution and working hard. Sharing your ideas early on will be more beneficial than harmful.
The fear of open failure is considered normal in our society. Failing is a synonym of losing, which is another common belief in our society of being a “bad” thing. For a long time, I was terrified of being consider a loser, so I stop sharing my business ideas with the logic that if I failed nobody would know. The only problem was, that for any new venture you make, no matter what it is, your first customers will always be your friends and family. So by being afraid of open failure I was sabotaging my chances of success by not selling my ideas to my friends and family.
You can’t control failure, but you can control what you take away from each failure. If you leave empty handed and don’t learn anything, it is only then that you lose. This doesn’t mean you should get comfortable with losing or failing, but you should accept it as a natural process in learning and moving on. You are allowed to fail at making a mistake once, but not twice. Edison went through tens of thousands of prototypes before inventing the lightbulb, but I bet none of the previous prototypes were the same. With each prototype he learned something new and made adjustments until he discovered the correct way to make the lightbulb.
Making AllWithBooks has helped me overcome the fear of open failure because it is not about me. If I fail, I will have let down an entire community that believes in what we are doing and trusts us.
The purpose of AllWithBooks is much bigger than any of us, so I can’t be proud or selfish by not using whatever is in my control to help make it happen.
We have been working for almost a year with AllWithBooks. We’ve gone through significant failures, as well as going from product to brand name and from vision to model. But, thanks to being open, we have received great feedback and learned a lot from the mistakes. We kept moving forward, and with every step and error, we ended up attracting even more followers, because they cheer for us as we all share the same beliefs and goals.
Being exposed is hard. It makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us visible. As I have learned, we are all vulnerable, but not visible. I choose being visible.
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