Keeping Faith in the Face of Fear

“Sometimes I think, What will happen to me if my company fails? If I fail? I’ve been working at this for over 10 years and haven’t had a win. I am 55 years old. I am an entrepreneur. I have no retirement,” lamented my good friend.

Recently I heard from two very dear friends and great entrepreneurs. It is interesting to me they are both working on the biggest deal in their company’s history. Real deals with real money reflecting real market acceptance. They aren’t anxious because of no hope. They are anxious because this deal is the hope.

I answered by saying, “This feeling you have is actually good news. Knowing and believing there is no retreat, no plan B, the ships are burned is the greatest success principle. Success comes when you have conceded defeat but continue to push forward. I don’t know why, but this is how it happens. I’ve observed this many times.”

Wrestling with Failure

These two men are a couple of the greatest entrepreneurs I have ever known. It breaks my heart to see them going through this. It is hard to be the entrepreneur, and it is equally difficult to be the person who loves them. Like me, their spouses are watching them suffer and can’t do anything to help. We talk. We encourage. We pray.

Several weeks ago I wrote the story of Randy. He was the entrepreneur who didn’t want to continue leading his company. He wanted out. I thought I was going to lose all of my investment plus the wind-down expenses. The situation pushed me to the edge.

I was railing at God for getting me in this partnership. I calculated how much money I was going to lose. I began planning what I might do to provide for my family in the future. I wrestled with feelings of failure and wasn’t certain I could pick myself up and go on. I had conceded defeat.

Then Randy came to me saying PeopleSoft wanted to buy the company. Here it is again. The biggest deal in the company’s history showed up right after life as I knew it was over.

The Deal Must Work

That deal had to work. Now my anxiousness was based in this deal not happening. It was my only hope to get my money back but also, amazingly, to make money on this deal. Well it did work. Happy ending. I call it a miracle.

When I look back, I see what was in place that I didn’t see then—the great people in the deal with me and the motivated buyer. I was blinded by the trainwreck I envisioned. It was all I could think about. My struggle became working the deal versus worrying about the disaster. When I worked the deal, I was focused and engaged. No anxiousness. When I stopped working and thought about the trainwreck, I was a wreck.

I learned a really helpful life lesson in AA. It goes something like this.

Focus on the future and you are anxious.

Focus on the past and you are regretful.

Focus on the present and you are content.

So when I’m looking forward or back and get wrapped around the proverbial axle, I say a prayer and ask God to bring me back to the present. He is in control of the future, not me.

All I can do is what I can do right now, and that is all I need to bring me contentment. Read Matthew 6:25-34

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