You are going to read about a touchy subject.
One that society links with success or failure.
I have learnt that people are very curious to know how someone working at a startup makes money.
This is especially so of those career changers moving from lucrative professions to startups; or any venture that doesn’t offer a guaranteed income stream in the short-term.
There seems to be a high correlation between the threat of running out of money and the fear of failure.
Which – by the way – is fair enough.
I have been told that the only reason I have the luxury of pursuing entrepreneurship is because I have a husband who has de-risked the family by pursuing a corporate job (which luckily also aligns with his passion and strengths).
These statements are challenging.
On one hand:
It’s true. I do have support. It’s a testament to the idea that no human is an island.
On the other hand:
It implies I am not good enough.
Luckily though, I can turn to the messages of F-OFF for comfort.
Because, you know what? The sceptics are totally justified in their position.
Not necessarily in their assessment of my abilities – but in their concern for my financial wellbeing.
The idea of “going backwards” financially terrifies people.
And it should. It’s horrible never having enough.
For some, losing financial security is their worst nightmare.
It’s not mine.
I know that financial success isn’t linear.
I have seen it in my parents’ outcomes and in my own.
My dad was never afraid of debt. He wasn’t afraid of loss.
He was only ever afraid of not having a go.
And rather unglamorously, the only difference between him and the guys that eventually went broke was that he didn’t die before he could turn it around.
I want that to be me:
I want to just not die before I can turn it around.
My confidence is product of privilege, for sure. I live in a first world country. I had a first rate education. I have the ability to teach myself and have a network of supporters who help me.
This is a very lucky position to be in and I am so grateful that I got to taste this opportunity. Whenever the fear of failure starts to gnaw at me, I just have to reflect about how much I have to be grateful for and it subsides.
And truly – maybe I have a really unpleasant lesson to learn just around the corner:
Where I have to give up my sweet dreams, and go back to a salaried job in a year’s time.
When even my husband’s infinite support is tested by our finite means.
But until then, I am content to give up the comfort of an easy story, a life that can be easily understood by others, to live by my personal definition of success:
Doing work that I’m passionate about where I contribute to society in some way. To work on a couple of small projects that could go nowhere – or somewhere even I couldn’t imagine.
This might eschew traditional notions of success, status, identity and financial security and yes, it probably signals that I’m nuts.
But ultimately, success and failure aren’t defined by society, but by ourselves.
Success for me is when I test the values that most matter to me, with the behaviours and external conditions I create for myself, and find them aligned.
If you want to explore your own fear of failure, why it holds you back and learn some strategies to grow your potential, why not join me and a host of others on 20 July 2017 where we – along with Karma – host F-OFF: Fear of Failure Forum (Gratitude Edition).
Buy tickets here.