I remember very distinctly when I was gripped with fear and experienced the chill the runs down ones spine… I experience it constantly when I think of all the permutations and combinations of things that can go wrong with being an investor and entrepreneur, a husband, a son and a father. I continue to believe that there is always a thin line between fear and courage. Ben Horowitz wrote about it. I have faced the fear of personal kind and professional kind, it is usually the helpless feeling that trips one over. I remember very distinctly the fear of loosing my Father exactly a year back on this very day. My dad passed away last year on September 19… it was a huge blow to me personally. My dad was my mentor and taught me everything I know about being an entrepreneur and it was ironic that he would constantly encourage me to be fearless and here I was standing outside the Intensive Care unit in a hospital in Chennai literally with sweat dripping down the back of my neck with fear that I am going to loose my father. It was the toughest event that I had to experience and I am sure everyone faces situations in their lives that jolts us to the core. The post is not about that but what one does when one is gripped with this feeling. I have recommended the book “The Road Less Travelled” by Dr.Scott Peck, where he talks about fear. Fear is a form of laziness, the laziness to act.
As entrepreneur we all go through times when everything looks like it is going to come crashing down but I believe that is just our fear telling us stories. Courage is action despite fear, fear the feeling is internal, everyone feels it even the most courageous person feels the fear, it is primal and ever present… it is the action that follows that defines who we are. As Ben says in his post
In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong vs. doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right. These decisions intensify when you run a company, because the consequences get magnified 1,000 fold.
Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly. If you are CEO, these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.
Over the past 10 years, technological advances dramatically lowered the financial bar for starting a new company, but the courage bar for building a great company remains as high as it has ever been.
I believe we focus too much on the mechanics of starting up, building technology etc but we tend to forget that it is always about the people, the team, the collective fears, ambition, success or failure. If as participants in this life journey if we can empathize and act courageously, we may not always succeed or win but at the least we know we gave it our best.