I woke up this morning terrified. Last night I had a conversation with a friend about a startup idea. I had been flirting with that idea for a while, but walking it through with my friend and having her start making suggestions about the team I’ll need to build made it hit home. Yesterday I was in fantasy mode, today I’m in reality. And I’m scared.
That’s how I know that I need to work on this. Scaring comes from caring. I really, really care about this idea. It’s something I’ve had in the back of the mind for years. I keep dusting it off and putting it on, then sticking it back in the closet. Now it’s time to wear it to the ball.
I’m scared because I’m taking accurate stock of who I am, what I bring, what resources I have at my disposal. Failure is a very, very real possibility. My boss at my last job believed that a healthy fear of failure was a weapon, that knowing your own weaknesses and compensating them is the key to victory. He would walk around saying “I’m a dumb shit,” “You’re a dumb shit” to emphasize that not knowing, not having the answer, is okay. Recognition of ignorance is the first step on the path towards learning.
Fear and passion are closely coupled together. Probably the most inspirational book I’ve read in the last ten years is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. His thesis — his knowledge — is that the creative desire walks hand-in-hand with the self-destructive desire. That we are afraid of our own potential greatness and all the resources of the mind are arrayed against defeating that potential. Fear is the final guardian, the last gate to pass through once distraction, confusion, procrastination and denial are gone.