“…The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
I’ve been thinking about fear this week and it’s power to either motivate us forward into action or freeze us in our tracks. When FDR spoke these words in his 1933 inaugural address, he was talking about America’s struggle out of the Great Depression. I’m relating it to new ventures and breaking out of a comfort zone to pursue a goal. How do you manage your fears or insecurities and keep movement towards your goal, in forward motion?
I have started a new project to develop a website about the rapidly growing wine industry in Washington. I’m excited about it. A growth boom is happening right in my backyard and I want to be part of it. I’ve decided not to be intimidated by the fact that there are many people with much more knowledge about wine. I can learn. It’s a stretch goal for me.
I’m really enjoying the challenges of developing a vision for my website, looking at design options and researching local businesses. These are largely solitary activities that I can perform anywhere as time allows. A key part of this project is learning about individual wineries, tasting rooms and related businesses. Meeting people, reaching out with information and developing a communication plan are key. This is where the fear and discomfort come into play. I’m an introvert. Holy cow.
The Passport to Woodinville wine tasting event last weekend was a great opportunity to get out and interact with wineries and wine lovers. I had planned to introduce myself to some new people and to some that I have been interacting with on twitter. To give myself some credit, I gave myself a pep talk and went out and did that. But in terms of the number of people I interacted with, I could have done much better. I really enjoyed Saturday’s activities but needed Sunday to recover. Sensory overload. Why was that so hard for me? How can I be a better networker? Why is meeting new people so hard?
Surely there must be successful entrepreneurs that are introverts. What are their strengths and how do they compensate for their weaknesses? What tips are out there? These questions sent me to the internet, where we know all knowledge is available.
Here’s what I found.
Susan Cain, featured speaker at TED 2012, writes and speaks about the role of introverts, their strengths and contributions. Some advice she has offered in the past, which I will try to assimilate is that “the best way to approach networking events is to treat it as one individual conversation after another.” Like breaking down a daunting project into manageable tasks, approaching a crowded room one person at a time sounds less overwhelming. Her new book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” is now on my list of must-read books.
Also, in his 2011 blog post “The Introverted Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide,” James Wedmore outlines some strengths of an introverted entrepreneur and provides tips for performing at your best. His tips to introverted entrepreneurs include being conscious of your energy levels in order to recharge, push your comfort zone to become more extroverted and create support systems.
So what have I learned?
Yes, the fact that I am introverted presents challenges to developing new relationships and may cause me to feel fear or discomfort. It’s okay to expand my comfort zone at my own pace. I just have to keep working at it. It’s okay to schedule activities that drain my energy sparingly so that I can recharge. Persevere. Recognize my strengths and build on them. Find a support system of people coping with similar challenges.
I’m sure there are many introverts out there who have benefited from the ability to run a business on the internet. Have you had to overcome any fears or insecurities when building your networks? What methods did you use to keep moving forward? I’d love your comments.
All my best,