Tuning Out the Noise — Overcoming Your Fears in Business

Overcoming fears in business 1By Rob Voorhees

Almo Professional A/V

“Fear, fear’s a powerful thing. I mean it’s got a lot of firepower. If you can figure out a way to wrestle that fear to push from behind rather than to stand in front of you, that’s very powerful.” — Jimmy Iovine

We all experience fear in some way, shape or form. What differentiates us is how we react to that fear, and as Jimmy Iovine says above, it can be very powerful if you are able to figure out how to use fear as a force instead of an obstacle. Now, I am not talking about your fear of snakes, spiders or even commitment. While all are considered rather typical, I wanted to address some of the fears we encounter in our professional lives, why they exist in the first place and how we can possibly overcome them to achieve greater success!

One of the more prevalent fears in business is the fear of failure. Does anyone truly want to “fail” at something? Certainly not, but I am here to tell you from experience that failing at something is not all that bad, so long as you take something away from it and allow it to propel you forward. Take, for example, that you did not hit your quarterly sales targets. That could be considered a form of “failure,” however, you really have two ways to approach and attack. First, you can allow the negative thoughts to creep into your head and repeat to yourself, “I must not be qualified for this role.” Or, you can look back at the quarter and try to find some sort of silver lining — I promise you, it exists! Perhaps you quoted out a large number of projects which could close in future quarters, or maybe you brought on several new clients which could later yield stronger results.

A former boss once told me, “Whether the numbers are up or down, it’s always about the story you can tell to back it up.” So you had a bad quarter, but you have a great story on your activity levels, a full pipeline and some ideas on how the next quarter will be even better! Before you know it, you are feeling encouraged, fresh and ready to attack in a positive manner. That is how we fight the fear of failure. You cannot let the negativity creep in and overrun the positive attributes.

Another fear that seems to exist, although not as direct, is the fear of asking questions. Most would probably laugh this off at the thought of being scared to ask a question to someone, but it is a real thing and can sneak up on you in different ways. The most logical explanation I have for why this fear exists in business is quite simple — everyone wants to be the expert at everything! By asking questions, you feel like you are holding up a big neon sign that says “I DON’T KNOW SOMETHING” and people tend to not be comfortable doing that. This fear can rear its ugly head in a few ways, but generally, it could be having to ask your superior a question or having to ask the right qualifying questions to your potential client. No matter the example, this fear can be tackled as long as you are willing to put in the work.

The best possible way to overcome the fear of not knowing something (thus having to ask questions) is by continuing to educate yourself until you are comfortable with the given topic/subject. When I took on a new role in my career, I was scared. I allowed the fears and thoughts to creep into my head and, at times, even started to feel like I was sinking in quicksand. All of this occurred because I was tasked with talking about something that I was not comfortable with. While there were several resources to help me, there was one in particular who offered the best possible advice: “As long as you make an effort, nobody will ever notice or care about the lack of experience.” That statement is when the lightning bolt struck, and I had my biggest “aha moment” ever. Instead of resorting to sending lazy email forwards, I needed to step up, put in the work and show that I tried. At least the person on the other end knew I gave it the time it deserved. Through this practice, I finally reached a day where I sent an email to one of my support folks and they replied, “YOU GOT IT!” By educating myself, seeking out new certifications and web courses and continued repetition, I had found my way to comfort.

Comfort is something we all desire and deserve. When talking to prospective clients about a new audio or video system for their restaurant, the questions we ask are what will lead to success for everyone. If you educate yourself on AV systems, you will know that you should ask about the property dimensions, ceiling height, how the system will be used, what the sources will be and more. By putting in that work and educating yourself on the necessary topics, you will avoid falling into the definition of insanity, which is continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result. I always say, “what is the worst possible outcome?” If we don’t ask questions to our clients, the worst outcome could be spec’ing incorrect products, thus creating a poor experience and losing business. The worst possible outcome of asking someone is question is them replying, “I don’t know.” Is that really all that scary?

Fears exist in business: plain and simple. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to overcoming these. However, there are many ways that you can treat them and overcome them. I have learned over the course of my career to not let fear and anxiety overtake the day. I have personally experienced some of the highest of highs and also the lowest of lows. The “lows” were so defeating at the time that I swore to myself I would learn from them and make sure that feeling didn’t happen again. When you feel like you have the weight of the world pushing you forward every single day, that is the most powerful feeling ever.

If you are ready to tackle your fears head-on in 2022, a great first step would be to seek out educational opportunities such as Almo Professional A/V’s Spring E4 Experience events. With upcoming stops in Anaheim, California, and Chicago, Illinois, there is no better time than the present to gain the “firepower” that Jimmy Iovine spoke about in his quote and propel yourself to great success!