Full Disclosure: I’m not one for all the commercial hippy dippy positivity stuff. When I have read many of the self improvement style books in the past, it has felt unreal and disconnected. And don’t get me started on the tapes – the schmoltz is enough to make you wretch.
Life is all about searching
One of the most transformative discoveries I made was from Steve Blank – the tireless mentor of generations of entrepreneurs. It was about how Steve defined a startup as being:
This idea of a search – and consequently a search space – was very profound for me. It means I could be systematic in getting more of the things I want.
Steve was pivotal for me in a couple of ways. Firstly by framing the entrepreneurial work as a search and, secondly, for naming what the startup founder is searching for.
Think of everything you have done in your life – what was it for? Why go to school and university or dates? Why travel and explore?
There are a number of ways to frame these experiences – I prefer to frame them as a search.
I went dating because I was searching for companionship. I went to university in search of knowledge and a basis for a profession. I go to the cinema in search of some entertainment.
How do you find a needle in a haystack?
Imagine you lost a golden needle in a haystack. How might you find it?
Imagine also that you have an irrational fear of hay or extreme hay allergies – how might this help or hinder your search for the needle?
Or perhaps you fear looking silly sifting through hay for a needle?
Any of the above would probably stop you finding your needle.
Now imagine if you had a fear of flying that would limit – pretty severely – how far you might travel to search for new cultural experiences.
Or if you had a fear of conflict, you might never have your ideas challenged and improved through healthy debate.
Name your Search, name your fears
Do this little experiment – you’ll need a pen and some paper.
First, write down what you are searching for by going to work. For example: I go to work because I’m searching for financial security.
Next, write down 3 things that you are afraid of that apply to that search. For example: I’m afraid of appearing ‘unprofessional’ by arriving late for meetings
Finally, for each 3 things you are afraid of, come up with 3 things you are almost uncomfortable with to try and make it a little better. You might need to ask a friend for suggestions or do some research about how you might manage the fear. try and keep the actions mostly dependent on things you will do i.e not waiting on someone else.
For example: I’ll set an alarm so that I can arrive at meetings 5 minutes early it helps me have better meetings.
How was that? Don’t worry if you didn’t get absolutely 3 things per fear – the goal is to think through this and find the smallest steps you can take towards managing your fear so that you can minimize their ability to affect your search. Remember – you do not have to conquer your fears entirely in order to prevent them from affecting your search.
3 things you can do now to make fearless searching a habit
The above was a simple exercise, but for it to work, you have to do it for real and review regularly. To get the benefits of fearless searching, you have to get habitual. It can be pretty hard at the beginning , however you can use a little bit of will-power now to avoid using much more in the future.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to help you build the habit to help you get good at fearless searching.
- Keep your output from the previous exercise – this is as good a place to start. Pick one thing you will do and by when you will do it.
- Make an appointment in your calendar to review your list and the action you took. A week away usually works best.
- Send the appointment to a friend and ask them to call you on the day as though you were meeting. If you don’t have someone to do this with – I’m happy to help – add me to your calendar
Go forth and be fearless in your search. I’d love to hear how you get on with this.