I am walking across the hot sand on a beach in Hawaii, looking out toward the ocean. I am hauling a surfboard as I make my way towards my first surf lesson. EVER.
I want to work for myself.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for my entire life. My heart is pounding (with excitement? fear?) and I think, “Oh, boy, do I know this ‘flight or fight’ response well.” I can either feed into my doubts and stop, or acknowledge the fear and go for it. I know what I have to, and want to, do.
Launching a business is scary. I’ve done it before with a partner, but this time I’m on my own.
Our instructor asks me if I can swim; I say “No,” but add that my goal is to stay close to my board. He shows us the basic placement of our bodies on the board, lying prone with chests lifted (think Cobra pose in yoga), our arms doing the paddling. The big move is the transition to standing up on the board, similar to a Warrior pose in yoga. I do it smoothly, still rooted to land.
Thoughts enter: Where do I start? How do I make it work?
Then I step into the water with my board strapped to my left ankle. There’s no turning back. I push my board ahead of me and jump onto it. I paddle out to a good spot in the water.
I want to be immediately successful, but what if I’m not?
Our instructor tells me to point my board towards shore. Asking me if I’m ready, I say “Yes,” and he tells me to paddle, now. I start paddling with all my might; I feel a thrust under my board and I’m being pushed forward by the waves behind me. He yells for me to get into position and I lift my chest. He screams “UP!!!” And then…I hesitate. I miss the wave. I make a few more attempts, and it’s more of the same. I feel hollow, disappointed.
I can’t give up before I’ve tried.
Somehow, with every wave I miss, I keep going back out, looking for the next wave. When our instructor asks again if I’m ready, I say “Yes,” albeit timidly. Still, I paddle. He pushes, giving my board extra thrust. I step my right foot forward. He screams at the top of his lungs “Stand Up!!! Let go of your world!!!” His words ricochet around my brain. I stand up tall, feeling the waves under my feet, and ride my first wave. EVER.
The verdict: I am launching this business, full stop.
Just like walking into the ocean without knowing how to swim, starting my own business is full of unknowns and scary prospects because I don’t yet have my bearings. And just like getting back up on that surfboard, I know I will need to try again and again until I feel more ready than to stand up for myself and my business. I know that I can and will embrace the fear that comes with being an entrepreneur.