What Are Your People Afraid Of?

This whole idea of an entrepreneur…what definition should we use?  Within a company, perhaps it should be called “intra-preneurs”… Regardless, the traits we seem to attribute to this idea seems to the same.  These people take risks, they start something new, they never quit, they get the needed resources, they sell a vision, they take responsibility for success or the failure…

If we want any of the above from any part of an organization (including from us), if we’re really honest, we have to battle fear.

Fear that we’ll be found out, that we won’t succeed, that we will succeed, that people won’t like us, that someone will be mad, that we’ll get in trouble, that we’ll fail or flounder or not be whatever we think we should be.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself:

1)   Do I really want others to act as entrepreneurs?  Really?

2)   Do I want others to act without fear?   If not (i.e. you want them to fear something), what do I want them to fear?  Not to fear?

Stop here...until you’re really clear.  It may take awhile.  It did for me.

Now what?  Depending on your answer, could you take another step?  Could you ask your most trusted team members:

  • What are people afraid to tell me?
  • What decisions are people afraid to make that they should be making?  What was in the way of making the decision?
  • Where do you need my help?  The help of others?

Facing fear, and helping others to do so, is a key to so many things.  In perhaps an odd way, I find it encouraging to know that Paul battled fear – after all, he had a growing organization in Acts that he was trying to care for.  I wonder if we could encourage ourselves and others in the same way God spoke to Paul:

 “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you…”  Acts 18:9-10a (NKJV)

Redefining Failure

I am leveraging Rick Warren’s Daily Hope blog for this beautiful perspective on redefining failure. It inspired me.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Satan’s favorite tool to diminish your faith is the fear of failure. But you cannot serve God and be constantly worried about what other people think. You have to move forward. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (NIV)

So how do you get rid of the fear of failure?

One way is to redefine failure. What is failure? Failure is not failing to reach your goal. Failure is not having a goal. Failure is not failing to hit your target. Failure is not having a target. Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up. You’re never a failure until you quit. So if you’re attempting something for the glory of God, that’s a good thing. Failure is not trying and not accomplishing anything. Failure is failing to try.

Another way to get rid of the fear of failure is to never compare yourself to anybody else. You’re always going to find somebody who’s doing a better job, and you get discouraged. And, you’re always going to find somebody who’s not doing as good a job as you are, and you become full of pride. Both of them will mess up your life. Discouragement and pride will keep you from serving God’s purpose for your life.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:4, “Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.” (GW)

Did you notice that the Bible says there is a legitimate pride? There’s a good kind of pride and there’s a bad kind of pride. The bad kind of pride is comparing: “I’m better than so and so!” The good kind of pride is, “God, I’m proud of what you’re doing in my family, my business, my life, my walk of faith.” That’s the good kind of pride.

God hasn’t called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader in the world. God has called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader I can possibly be given the gifts, talents, and experiences he gave me. When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you more like so and so?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you who I made you to be?”

Let go of your fear of failure, because anything you’re attempting for God in faith is a good thing, regardless of the results.

A Story...

A fairly new member with a civil engineering company in Group 6 had been experiencing losses for the last four years.  The $5-6M Company had lost $800K, $400K, $200K, and $150K respectively.  Morale was very low and seemed impossible to reverse. The member, being an engineer, is very analytical and was reluctant to act.  The group had been advising him to right-size, but the pending work that could possibly come in was keeping him from cutting too deeply in manpower. Fear was ruling his decisions. It had come to the point where he would occasionally talk about going back to the farm in Tennessee and escape the whole problem.  “I’m not cut out to be a leader…someone else should lead this company.” Finally, having a “father/son” talk with the member, I encouraged him to implement the advice of his group.  A few critical moves would put him above the waterline on costs, and a little bit of profit would be a WORLD of difference from a bunch of red ink.  After all, the employees had heard of nothing but bad news for so long, and they had lost hope of winning.  Some of his employees had NEVER experienced a profitable year.  He decided to make the moves.

The cuts were combined with a new strategic push by the member who began aggressively going after local work and avoiding international projects. (While lucrative in theory, they were long shots.)  Things began to look up right away, and since the costs were lowered, productivity went up considerably.  Sales per employee numbers rose by more than 40% in some cases, until in July profit came in at $200K. While some of that month’s profits had to be adjusted in August, he has been profitable every month since.

Some of the culture change, surprisingly enough, was provided by young new interns, college students or new grads working for $12 an hour.  Those four interns will be offered regular employment and added to payroll this month.  They are adding lots of energy and will help the company sustain the elevated contract volume for the remainder of the year.

This member's faith has been tested through this ordeal.  He really didn’t know how to live out his faith at work.  He was never comfortable interfacing with his own people, especially in confronting issues.  Early on he took my cue to “Walk the 4 Corners” (W4C/MBWA).  It really bothers him, being unnatural behavior, but he believes it is building his relationships and leadership with the flock.  He is even praying for people in the business suffering with cancer, etc.  Becoming more relational, more strategic, more confrontational, and now making a reasonable profit…his testimony as a Christian business leader is becoming rock solid.  It is also showing up in his Convene Team. He has become bolder, more engaged, and is ready to help his fellow members.  This is a clear case where assisting a member to better run his business was DIRECTLY responsible for his testimony becoming more credible.

This member is convinced of his calling to be the leader of this company.  He is committed to Christ in the business and at home.  He is one of the most beloved members of the group now and he has finally honored his group by implementing their advice.