Is fear stunting your growth?

The key is to embrace “good” fear and eliminate “bad” fear

Aug 20, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

By Steve Sanduski

If you had no fear, would you be running your business and living your life exactly the way you are today?

The following chart will help you determine just how much fear rules you. Take a look at the two columns.

How many “Fearful” items describe you?

The more closely you resemble the “Fearless” column, the more likely you are building the business and living the life of your dreams.

Fearlessness is a mindset. It's an overarching belief that the world conspires to help those who work hard, stretch themselves, help others and take the proverbial road less traveled.


All of us experience some level of fear. The key is to embrace “good” fear and eliminate “bad” fear.

Good fear is the butterflies you get in your stomach before a big presentation. It's what causes you to slow down when driving on an icy road. Good fear heightens your sense of awareness, and makes you sharp and alert. It protects us as a species and helped us become “king of the jungle.”

Bad fear is a different animal.

Bad fear prevents you from introducing yourself to a high-net-worth prospect. It causes you to be afraid of robo-advisers instead of finding ways to profit from what they do. Bad fear paralyzes and weakens you. It prevents you from living up to your potential, keeps you stuck in your comfort zone and makes you roadkill.

Top advisers understand the difference. They embrace good fear and realize all growth takes place when you step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself.

Here are five examples of what top advisers do out of “good fear.”

1. They prospect people that are twice as large as their largest current client.

2. They narrow their target market to a readily identifiable group of people for whom they have a competitive advantage in serving.

3. They market their services aggressively and put themselves “out there” by taking a stand on important issues — even when it turns off some potential clients.

4. They invest in technology even when the payoff is not immediate.

5. They invest in people and infrastructure to ready their business for explosive growth.

I've worked with many advisers over the years who said the main way they build their business is through referrals. Frankly, that's a cop-out. It's letting bad fear keep you stuck in a low-grow zone.

At best, referrals might generate single-digit growth. And if you're satisfied with that, this article is not for you.

Consistent double-digit growth will only happen if you do things that make you uncomfortable. It requires being fearless.

Now, don't get me wrong. You shouldn't take stupid risks. Stupid risks are doing things that have lottery-like probability of success.

Here's the easiest way to tell if you're taking a stupid risk. If the failure of your action results in severe damage to your business, it's a stupid risk.


Classic financial theory says there's a positive correlation between risk and reward. This carries over to your business and life, too. Keep this key point in mind:

• The level of risk you're willing to incur is in direct proportion to how meaningful the result is to you.

For example, if building a fast-growing business is important to you, then you will embrace good fear, take measured risks and move full steam ahead.

Conversely, if you're not willing to take much risk in your business, then either you're trying to milk a cash cow or you're bored. Either way, you must get re-energized or get out. Nobody benefits from coasting.


Here's my homework for you. Take some time to look inward and figure out what is really important to you. Think about what your ideal life looks like. Your ideal business. Your ideal relationships. Your ideal fitness level. Your ideal obituary.

Put this down on paper. Read it. Edit it. Get it to the point where it energizes you and compels you to put in action what you put on paper.

You may find my simple Framework for Business and Life Success helpful.

And here's my challenge to you:

• Are you willing to embrace good fear and build a business and live a life with great value and real meaning?

Be awake to the possibilities.

Steve Sanduski is a New York Times bestselling author and president of Belay Advisor. Follow him on Twitter @SteveSanduski.


Are you willing to embrace good fear and build a business and live a life with great value and real meaning?

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