As an entrepreneur, there are many aspects of Bruce Wayne’s life that appeal to me (his wealth, love for gadgets, his philanthropic efforts, intolerance for injustice etc.) With that said, there was a particular scene in this latest movie, that really hit home with me.
The other day a friend and prospective client called me. She was about to embark on a new venture and needed my advice. She had talked to several people regarding her potential new business, and while she was happy about its potential, there was one thing she just couldn’t seem to get over.
“How do you get over the fear?” she asked me.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You are an entrepreneur so you should get me. I can’t seem to shake the fear. I haven’t been able to sleep well and I know I have a great idea but I’m just scared to go through with it for some reason. Help me!”
Her question took me to this scene in the Dark Knight Rises.
Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Bruce Wayne: Why?
Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death.
(I’d cite more but I don’t want to ruin the movie for you if you haven’t seen it!)
I immediately couldn’t help but chuckle. I told her that even after founding multiple subsidiary ventures and launching many products, I still fight fear EVERYDAY. As a matter of fact, fear is the reason why I’ve been to launch so many things less than a year running my company, Digitalvaliance, fulltime. Fear drives me.
While I fear dying, the fear that drives me in business is fear of failure and letting down my employees, contractors, investors and friends. I also really fear running out of money. My impetus is the fear of the death of my entrepreneurial aspirations and ventures.
I advised her that fear is a necessary component of launching a successful new product/venture/company. We all fear different things and must channel it as appropriate to get the task at hand done.
Fear is what will make her work harder than her competition & stay up at night building her business while her friends are out partying. Fear is also what keeps 99% of the population on the sideline watching in on entrepreneurs making a killing because they just couldn’t ever shake it off. It is in our nature to be fearful of the unknown but the successful ones channel into action and do not allow it to become extreme paranoia.
I gave her the list of things I do to combat fear:
Turn to Life Coaches & Inspiration
I turn to material prepared by people such as Tony Robbins, Eric the Hip Hop preacher or my friend Jullien Gordon, to constantly remind myself that nothing is impossible. This stuff works. We all know we have it within but we just need to hear it every so often.
Mastermind Groups & Entrepreneur friends
I surround myself with other entrepreneurs. Being around other entrepreneurs allows me to have a sense of community and that I’m not in it alone. Being around the successful ones allows me to adopt a “me too” attitude (if they can do it, so can I!).
I typically limit the amount of time I spend with people who are debbie-downers or overly pessimistic. Sometimes this isn’t always possible (some of my closest friends are the most pessimistic people I know). In those relationships, what I tend to do, is just keep my head down and continue to do what I’m doing, and then share with them when/if what I’m working on is a success and I don’t seek out their thoughts/feedback too early or often (a little pessimism is good)
Every year I read the list of Inc5000 companies to get a feel of what they do, and how they’re doing it. I am constantly amazed at the kinds of businesses that are doing 7-8 figures in revenue.
If you are religious, you can find solace in your place of worship and that higher powers will lead you to success. Just take action!
Mind mapping & Constant Execution
This is a big one for me. I like to really plan out and map out every component of my business on paper so that I can answer most of the questions that come to mind and continuously remind myself of why I have a great idea. I execute in baby steps and seek constant validation of my ideas in a manner similar to those outlined by Eric Ries in the Lean Startup.
While her venture isn’t a life or death situation like in the Dark Knight, I felt like the essence of the importance of fear was captured in that scene.
I told her that the good news is that, is gets easier overtime, but it never fully goes away. The day it goes away, is the day that one has become too complacent.
I have a good feeling that despite being a first time entrepreneur, she will rise and learn to embrace fear in her future ventures.
Ismail Maiyegun is the founder of Digitalvaliance, a mobile & web development company in San Francisco. Digitalvaliance is the parent company to subsidiary ventures such as LogoBakery, a logo design company, and Mobile Design Shop – a mobile design company. He is also the creator of The Jump Start Program - a private coaching/consulting program for entrepreneurs and startups. In his spare time, he serves as the CTO of Music for Tomorrow, a non-profit founded by Jude Law that seeks to stimulate the creative economy through Jazz.