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Today’s Soapbox opinion was written by Ana Bárbara González Hernández, Founder of Creademics.
Contxto – There is a concept in business called a glass ceiling. Whether you’re in the startup or corporate world, you’ve surely heard of it.
In one of its articles, The Wall Street Journal described it as an invisible barrier. One that arises in business, preventing underrepresented demographics, like women, from reaching high-ranking positions in companies.
This was written all the way back in 1986. Although the years have passed and things have changed, it’s a term that stuck with me: “invisible barriers”.
My invisible barriers
There are glass ceilings that I’ve come across when launching a startup. These arise regardless of your gender, geography, or industry. They are born from fear.
They could be the fear of failure, of success, of what will people think of you, of being judged.
From what I have seen along my path in entrepreneurship, we create limiting beliefs (the other glass ceilings) and many of them are founded in fear.
The thing with fears is that some are truly ours then there are fears that are not. Based on which of those two are we acting? What fears are we taking up as our own and who do they belong to? Mom? Dad? My partners and acquaintances? Or are they genuinely mine?
Take, for example, a colleague or friend (who aren’t entrepreneurs). They may comment on how difficult and risky it is to bet on launching your own startup in these difficult times. So you freeze and you question and stall your new business venture.
At that moment you are adopting a fear that does not belong to you; it isn’t yours.
On the other hand, there’s the typical fear of being judged. This may actually be something you’re worried about. But once you’ve realized that, then you process and work through it. You can overcome it and break that “glass ceiling”.
Launching in times of fear
As such, fear isn’t bad and it can help you. It’s your instinct telling you on what to bet and where not to go.
What I suggest is to avoid that paralyzing fear, the one that leaves us immobile and keeps us from acting. Of course, I am not implying that we should eliminate fear entirely. If only I had the magic recipe for eliminating fear. If I did, I think my startup and I would already be on another level.
What I suggest is to develop a healthy relationship with your fears. You have to analyze them, not avoid them, and talk to them and see where they come from (whether they are ours or someone else’s).
What do they want to tell us and how can we face them? Because you lose more by not expanding your business, by not launching your startup, by not investing, than by facing your fears, learning from the confrontation, and using it as fuel to cope and think outside of the box.
Limiting beliefs and fears project not only onto us but onto our business as well.
If you think you won’t succeed, most likely your business won’t either. Fear will then lead to conservative goals and, therefore, your business will also stagnate as a result.
If you shift your focus from your fears to launching, everything changes. If you start to see your fears from another point of view, everything changes. Thinking big can take up the same time and space than thinking small, don’t you think?
After fear comes the difficult part
I know it sounds easy, perhaps it is for some.
Everything is a process of growing, committing to your work, breaking down limiting beliefs, looking within yourself, and to be aware of how we use our energy within our projects.
You always have to reflect on whether it is an energy based on fear or on courage.
As I said before, it isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it. It’s worth healing, questioning fears, and daring to take that leap of faith.
I believe that what is on the other side of fear is valuable. And look, even if it ends up being a failure, it will end up being a valuable lesson, so, why not try it?
What do you think?
Have you stopped launching, investing, betting on your projects because of fear?
Ana Bárbara is a Mexican entrepreneur. She is currently part of a multidisciplinary team of entrepreneurs who create innovation projects. There, she is developing Creademics, online courses providing innovative tools for entrepreneurship, and Somnium, virtual reality content to improve treatments for cancer patients.