Entrepreneurship is a series of leaps of faith, like hopping from stone to stone across a river: sometimes you just don’t know how it’s going to go. Sometimes a solid-looking stone can turn out to be wobbly or sink into the soft mud. Sometimes you have so much momentum going that you can’t stop to think about the next step; you just need to take it.
We’re in the middle of our first investment fundraise right now on CircleUp, and it is terrifying. A lot of it is fun (I love telling our story and talking about where we’re going next!), and it’s certainly been a learning experience. But I’ve had a few pre-investor-meeting freakouts already and I suspect those days aren’t quite behind me yet.
It’s perfectly natural to need to give yourself a pep talk every once in awhile.
No matter what stage you’re at in your business, you’re going to have to talk yourself into a few leaps along the way – whether it’s something that you’re trying for the first time, something that makes you nervous, or something that you flat-out dislike doing. And that’s okay! It’s perfectly natural to need to give yourself a pep talk every once in awhile. Here are a few things I do when I’m feeling unsure or intimidated.
Pick a pump-up jam
This practice started when I was in acting school at NYU and would need an energy boost before a rehearsal or performance. The original pump-up jam tune was what’s known among my peers as the numa numa song. I would put on my headphones, dance around like a crazy person for the entire song and be ready to perform by the end of it. (The dancing is optional, but I highly recommend it – and bonus points if your moves can approach those of the original Numa Numa Guy.)
I’ve had many pump-up jams over the years. It’s important to note that a good pump-up jam needn’t be a good song. It just needs to get you going. No judgments! This is my current go-to; for kickass ladies, I recommend checking out the catalogues of Beyoncé, Robyn, and Sleigh Bells.
Strike a power pose
Yes, there have been rebuttal pieces to the original Harvard Study, showing that power posing can help you feel more confident in stressful situations and that a replication experiment didn’t find the same results. But I’m here to tell you that the placebo effect is real. You have nothing to lose in trying it. So do it already! I favor what I like to call the starfish and the Wonder Woman, but any of these high-power poses help boost my confidence before an important meeting (or really anytime, just for funzies).
Remind yourself how awesome you are
I set reminders on my phone to show up at random times. Mine say things like, “Liz, you are a badass and you can do this!” “You don’t have to run around like everything is on fire all the time” and simply “GET IT GIRL.” Is it cheesy? Yes. Does it still make me smile when a random go-get-’em message pops up on my phone? Also yes.
Let go of your attachment to any particular outcome
This is the toughest to wrap your head around, and for good reason: we go through life being told that if we want something badly enough, and if we are willing to work hard enough for it, we can achieve it. This is partly true – certainly, nobody ever achieved great or difficult things by not wanting them and by not putting their blood, sweat and tears into them – but we do not have control over everything.
That’s right. We don’t have control over what another person thinks, feels or decides. Yes, let’s do our best to exchange information, to connect, to persuade, but at the end of the day, most of the big stuff is out of our hands. I love The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron. She talks a lot about making friends with fear and learning how to live through and within uncomfortable or scary situations.
Just do it
Nike has it right: no matter what you’re feeling, sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, put your head down and charge.
What did I miss, entrepreneurs? Sound off in the comments with how you talk yourself into the big stuff!