"I know that my brain is constantly fighting against me. I'm always on guard and am always questioning, what do I feel versus what choice am I going to make about how I respond? What happens next?"
Every day, business owners and employers face very real fears related to leading a team, running a company, and making a profit. In the final episode of Season 2, we step into the shoes of a business leader and address fear in the workplace — even asking one such entrepreneur, Mitch Causey, to share the very real fears he faces daily. To conclude, we issue a challenge: rather than be paralyzed by fear, learn to move with it — letting its momentum make way to success.
Joe: Hi, there. I’m Joe Dudeck, President and founder of Keyhole Marketing.
Shannon: And I’m Shannon Jirik. I work for Keyhole as the Assistant Brand Manager.
Joe: And this is Metaphorically Speaking, a podcast that explores the mysterious side of marketing.
Joe: Hi there. I’m Joe Dudeck, president and founder of Keyhole Marketing.
Shannon: I’m Shannon Jirik. I work for Keyhole, as the assistant brand manager.
Joe: And this is Metaphorically Speaking. A podcast that explores the mysterious side of marketing.
Shannon: Welcome back, and thank you for joining us for our final episode of season two.
Joe: It went so fast.
Shannon: It always does. It really does. In this season, we’ve just been talking about how fear impacts our lives, personally, professionally, every single day. If this is your first episode or your first time listening, please, we would encourage you to stop, go back a few episodes-
Shannon: Do not do anything else, yes. Start at the beginning and just catch up with our conversation, because we’ve defined it, we’ve talked about how people respond to it, and in this final episode we really want to bring some closure to it as we talk about moving with fear, living life with fear. We really hope that you found this topic, this season on fear and our exploration of it, helpful in your everyday lives. I know it’s been really challenging for us, so I think there’s some good takeaways.
Joe: It’s definitely is, we got into an overwhelming topic and so much yet to explore. We know we’ve only scratched the surface on this conversation, but hopefully you’ve still got some inspiration, some things to think about and maybe you’ll start connecting with others around you or happy to connect with this if you want to explore your own journey. But, as we get into this episode, we always want to do that reflection and chance to set the stage for the conversation. There’s a quote that stood out to me this last week by Richard Rohr. He’s an author; I think he’s a Franciscan spiritual teacher, has some knowledge. A quote that he said was, “Contemplation. The contemplative mind. It’s like putting on a different head where you let the moment, the event, the person, the new idea come towards you as it is, without labeling it, analyzing it up and down, in or out, for me or against me. It just is what it is without my label.”
We’ve talked about that a lot in this season of just sitting with your fears and letting them roll over you without trying to grab them, hold them, push them away, wrestle them to the ground. And that’s really what this quote stood out to me of just being okay with being in the presence of your fears, acknowledging their existence, and not necessarily having to do anything with them.
Shannon: And that’s such a good way to start, because we ended our last episode with that.
Shannon: Sitting with your fear.
Joe: I would have liked to get that in that episode. It will fit in well here too. In this whole season, I think we’ve tried to touch on fear in the workplace. You as an employee, a small business owner or an entrepreneur, tried to just figure out, how does fear live in your world? And we’re going to try to dive a little deeper into that realm today. Kind of directly relating our conversation to the business place. To start things off, I just wanted to play a clip of an interview I had done recently with Mitch Causey, he’s the owner of DemandWell. You might’ve listened, we have these episodes in between seasons where we talk to entrepreneurs to figure out the process they went through to start their businesses.
In our conversation, when I talked to Mitch about some of the fears he’s experienced, and he just launched a business at this point a couple of months ago. Of course, just that leap that he took from full time employment, somebody else taking care of the bills and paying him and that kind of stuff, and going now into, how does he raise more money and how does he get new clients and how does he serve them while all at the same time? Some of those fears. And we just loved his vulnerability and what he shared in this conversation. So I just wanted to share a couple moments from that conversation related to fear.
Here’s how we’ve asked other people, are there fears that keep you up at night? Which sometimes is a little bit dramatic. I know there are fears that don’t really keep me up at night, but they do cross my mind and are meaningful. Maybe you hear it in a different way, but are there fears that impact you deeply?
Mitch: Absolutely. I mean, feel like we could go very deep.
Joe: We only have about 15 more minutes. . .
Mitch: Perfect. But, a little known fact, when I was 26, was clinically diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. So OCD. I think OCD has become a colloquially used phrase of, you like to have a clean house. I’m OCD about cleaning my house or whatever, which, totally cool. Keep saying it, whatever. But I actually have OCD, and it has impacted me so much. But thankfully, when I was in that timeframe, got professional help from mental health professionals. They gave me just really, really, really great tools to use in that. The reason why I bring it up, around the idea of fear is that that’s basically all OCD is. Is almost just a constant fear. Is fear a part of my life? Absolutely. Every minute. It absolutely is.
Some people call it the doubting disease, which you could say the fearing disease. Constantly fearing certain things and it shows up in different ways for everybody. But yeah, that’s a big thing for me, is fear. But I actually think about my OCD as my superpower and not just to make myself feel better, but I think it has changed the way that my brain operates. Because I know that my brain is constantly fighting against me. I’m always on guard and am always questioning, what do I feel versus what choice am I going to make about how I respond? What happens next? All that stuff. It’s really been so helpful to me to actually have had this disease because it has made me so much more intentional about fighting back against fear, and giving me the tools to fight back. Where I think people that haven’t had it, maybe get fear thrown at them rarely, and it’s in those times where you may not be prepared. But I feel pretty prepared to do that.
Joe: You’ve kind of answered the next question too, because I was interested in people that we surveyed of, how do you respond to fear when it comes up? And you’ve kind of answered. We gave people a couple of options, recognize and run from it, fight or challenge it, share with some others, pretend it’s not there, which is usually where I tend to go. We’re all good, we’re all good. But you said you fight against it. What are some ways you do that, I guess?
Mitch: Absolutely. For me, it’s really about time. And one of those tools that some folks helped me create is what they call stop words. In the world of OCD, it’s essentially the cyclical loop of whatever it is, so a stop word is just a phrase that gets you out of the loop. I think we all get in that sense where let’s say, if I have a fear on the business side right now, it’s like, who should I hire? You can go through that loop all day long, who should I hire? Who should I hire? Thinking about different parts of that, just overthinking, overthinking, overthinking. But if you recognize yourself doing that and you have some sort of stop word or stop experience. Literally just stop if you’re walking. Literally stop or anything. Just change your physical stance-
Joe: Physical movement affects the internal.
Mitch: Yeah, exactly. Physical stance change, either say something to yourself, breathe in deeply three times or whatever. It literally can be anything. We were just watching Inception and it’s like the totem thing. As long as you know what it means, then that’s what’s important. If you do that then it just creates a break in that cyclical chain and then that gives you just enough space that you can choose what the next action is.
Joe: That’s interesting. Well, I think that’s so applicable to anybody and so helpful, because I do think we tend to devalue the power of the physical and we sometimes just become victims of our own minds in lot of ways and we just assume that it has total control. There are sometimes, just through movement, through breathing, through those exercises, we’re able to, as you said, stop it and hold it and retake control or at least get a moment break for that.
Joe: That’s really interesting.
Shannon: Well, those are great thoughts. Really grateful for Mitch. And like you said, just his vulnerability in sharing those things with us. I think it’s just so great to marry up what he said, as a small business owner, with some of those responses that we received in our survey. We actually sent one directly to some business owners to just ask them some even more specific questions. One of them being, what are the fears that regularly keep you up at night? We just wanted to share some of those responses.
People said, not doing a good job for our clients, not getting work, the fear of losing that which I have already achieved or gained. Another person says, I fear the business sliding backwards even though it’s in a place of current success. I feel fear about all the decisions of refining all my options. Am I showing up to work as my best person? Am I showing up prepared? Am I manifesting my own thoughts or am I mimicking what others think I should do? Those are super real to these business owners.
Joe: Super real to me. I notice those things, so much pressure and the weight of all those things that you feel. I don’t know if it really actually keeps them up at night. It doesn’t really keep me up at night, but those are definitely things that I think about a lot. The pressure of that.
Shannon: Absolutely. So that’s a pretty weighty question. What fears are regularly keeping them up at night? We wanted to flip that and look at the positive side and ask, what fears have you seen yourself overcome in your career? These are such encouraging responses, just to see that they have felt fear, but they haven’t been crippled by it. One person says, many fears. They’re usually in my head than they are in real life. Which is awesome, they’re learning how to just deal with those. Another person says, those mountains of fear that I couldn’t overcome times when I had to lay it all on the line to get the business to the next level. Again, I just want to tell these people, congratulations. Another person says a fear that they’ve overcome is, I’ve learned that my intuition is powerful sometimes out of politeness or out of uncertainty, I have hesitated. And more often, now I’m comfortable with making decisions despite whether others think they are good ideas.
Joe: That’s great.
Shannon: And the last question that we honed in on, with these business owners were, what are your specific fears related to marketing their business? Somebody says, my fear is portraying an image that is inconsistent with who we are. Another says, the fear of spending money that does not have a great return or putting something out there that may be judged or criticized by my peers or prospective customers negatively. So true. And then another person says, perfectionism. My fear related to marketing my business is that marketing is a lot of work to do. It’s a lot of work to do it right. And they’re not sure if they’re up to the task.
Joe: Well, I mean even as a marketing firm, we have the same experiences. I mean, we have to tell our story, and all of those fears is, we would love to help our clients move through that stuff. But at the same time, we’re very honest about that standing in the way of us sometimes. If we want to make it exactly right or exactly perfect for you, put it out there or we’re going to spend money in the wrong ways that isn’t going to be successful or it’s, we’re not being honest with ourselves in the way we portray ourselves, these are super real for us in our world. So we understand how that’s real in your world as well.
Joe: I mean, all these answers are just so candid and insightful, and we’re just so grateful for 50 responses that we got. I mean, that was overwhelming.
Shannon: I didn’t even know you knew that may people, Joe.
Joe: No, it’s definitely family and friends of family and friends. We’re just grateful for people taking the time, and I loved some of the feedback we got from people on the way of, wow, that was a great question, I hadn’t thought about that. This is really going to inspire me on what I’m working through already. And we hadn’t even had the podcast done, it was just the questions was really helpful for them. So we’re grateful for that. I think again, what we just acknowledged in this whole process and maybe we should take a moment to sit. We should do another reflection moment right now.
Shannon: Start with another reflection.
Joe: But just, the awareness of we’re all in this together. 50 responses. I mean, that’s not everybody of course, not everybody I know, but it just expresses to me how this is so prevalent within all of us because it exists within all of us. Therefore, just sit in that fact, sit in that truth and breathe that in for a moment. If you felt alone, if you felt like you were in this process together, 50 people just said, no, I’m in this process with you, whether you know them or not. There’s probably 50 people in your circle who are going through the same thing, so just breath that fact in because we sometimes just quickly push that aside and think that we’re by ourselves in this.
Shannon: Right. Well, I love that these 50 people did one of the things that we’re encouraging, which is just, they took the time, minutes of their day, to sit and think about their fear. Be vulnerable and find that community to share their fears with, which is exactly what we should be encouraging each other to do. Again, that’s just hard for me to do, is to take that time for space and contemplation, but in order to move into the conversation we’re talking about today, which is more of an actionable item, I just think that’s so important to do up front.
We’ve thought a lot about how people in the business world can take what they’ve learned and then move with fear. We want to be really intentional about that preposition with, it’s recognizing, yet again, that fear is present in all of our lives. Now how do we take that and not let it completely cripple us? How do we move with it as opposed to this fearlessness concept that says you have to move through it? You have to get to the other side, you have to finish it?
Joe: Which, I mean, we just shared those answers from the business owners. I mean, they’ve had success to move through the other side and be able to move past some stuff they’ve done. But like Shannon’s saying, we don’t want to live in this reality that, only on the other side and once we move through it is the sweet spot.If we can move with it, that’s better than just sitting idle and pretending it’s not there or just giving it no attention whatsoever. We really try to focus on that with versus the through.
Shannon: Right, absolutely. Along the way we’ve come up with, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but a list of maybe some ways of thinking or even some actionable items that you can do as you move with fear in your workplace and in your career. These are compiled from our survey responses from some of our research. Just putting yourself in the lens of, I’m an entrepreneur or small business owner and how can I move through fear in my professional life?
Joe: And it’s not an exhaustive list, just really some stuff that stood out to us in our conversations and the survey responses. Like, man, this really seems to be an important thing to mention, so don’t feel like we’ve covered the gamut of all business.
Shannon: For sure, yeah. One of the first major themes that we found was just needing to find more of a healthy balance between looking inward and looking outward. There’s so much of a sense of comparison in today’s world, to another person, another company, another client. While some of that can be healthy to an extent, for our business competition standpoint maybe, it just can become unhealthy. We’re spending far too much time comparing and contrasting ourselves. Maybe we need to just balance the ability for fear to create itself, in those moments, by taking more time to look at ourselves.
Focusing on the fears that we face and applying what we’ve learned, applying what we become aware of to, the truth that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. That our lives, the work we do, is intertwined with that of other people. We can all be part of a greater cause. That company that you’re comparing yourself to also moves with fear and has to figure that out. We’re not in that process alone. Every person wrestles with that.
Joe: Sometimes it’s not even a competitor, it’s up here sometimes. They’re having so much more success than we are and we want to have the same thing that they are and they’re experiencing. Like you said, it’s just, we can all be a part of something bigger. We can help support each other versus work against each other. Finding that balance between eyes on ourselves and eyes on others. We can probably spend too much time on both. And I know I have for sure. Another thing that stood out just in the research and the conversations with these business leaders was this idea of the fear of failure and the fear of success. Failure probably seems more obvious. It’s this idea of, it’s not going to work. Whatever we’re going to, the risks we’re going to take, the things that we want to step out into, it’s just not going to work. Sometimes we have this idea of it either succeeds or it fails. There’s no gray area between.
The one side has all the advantages and the other side has no advantages or all the disadvantages. I think this kind of thinking of this, all or nothing success or failure thinking, blends into how we view ourselves sometimes. We see ourselves as a failure if we don’t succeed and are amazing at everything we do. But we’ve talked about it a few times in this season, that the truth really isn’t that failure is this black or white thing. It isn’t always a bad thing. It can actually add a lot of positive outcomes from that and can lead to great outcomes in our lives. We need to be okay with taking those leaps of faith and be okay with the landing. It can land on both sides. It can land at failure, and it’s okay, you can learn a lot from those experiences, or it can land in success.
What was really a fascinating in this research and the survey response, is just that fear of things working well. That was kind of surprising to me because I just assumed the one side was the biggest fear, but there is this surprising fear of success. What’s going to come out from that? What do I have to deal with that I don’t have to deal with today? It seems like you would want to go after those opportunities, but that can paralyze you as well. Really, finding the balance you need to find in there of, being okay with taking steps of faith, both towards what may be failure or may be a success, and being okay with both situations.
Shannon: That’s super interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever put words to the fear of success, but after thinking and talking through it I’m like, “Wow, I can see that self-manifesting in weird ways for myself.” Of course, we can’t miss an opportunity to talk about storytelling as content marketers and self-proclaimed storytellers. But what I love to do is just really think about how fear can help you tell the story that you need to be telling, about your business, to your audience.
I love looking at fear like it’s a story. Your fear has a character, a name, it has a plot, there could be strong imagery, there could be suspense. And I just wonder if we lean into that, almost imaginative space that fear creates, the story that our amazing human minds can create because we’re afraid of something. What if we use that to actually see what the future could hold for a positive way? How do we use our fear to write that story into existence?
Joe: That’s really interesting. It’s a positive experience, like we just talked about. One other thing that stood out to me was, and maybe I’ve experienced a lot in my own world, of this idea of emotional maturity. I’ve got a five year old child who’s much more mature, highly emotional, much more emotionally mature than I am. I think he’s very upfront and honest with the way he feels about things and expresses them. Maybe doesn’t always do it in the healthiest way, but it’s really a testament to me sometimes. Because I, a lot of times, like to suppress my emotions and my feelings and pretend they’re not there or table them for somewhere else. He does have a natural response, which is really, a good model for me.
And I think related to this, there’s this, and probably this is where it comes for me, is this idea of bravado that I have to have. I’ve got it together, bring on these fears, it’s no big deal, and I hope everybody else sees how good I am and how strong I am at dealing with some of these fears. In the process, we just bury these fears under this facade that we’re trying to maintain. Some ways we’re trying to do that to maybe numb ourselves out from the pain that we don’t want to experience if we acknowledge the fears exist there. But the other side of that is true too, that we numb ourselves out to the pleasurable things that we can experience, because we’re just avoiding all emotions. I just love the way my son, again, maybe his responses aren’t the healthiest, but we can lean on with the honest ways in which he responds.
Some things that I thought of related to this was, the healthy responses to fear in the way we can grow ourselves emotionally, is to talk about it with family and friends. Put this out there with them. Or sometimes another step might just be speaking to ourselves. Maybe we don’t get to a point where we’re ready to share it with somebody else, but just putting it out there, letting it live in the space in which we’re in, can have a very powerful experience. Maybe also writing these fears down in very colorful language. So you’re not very simple with it, but you’re really trying to describe it in minute detail and how it affects you.
You could also respond, letting this feed into some artistic outlet, that maybe you should be creating some artwork or some stories that you’ve been holding in. That this can result in that. And then we’ve talked about it a lot, but there’s another healthy response in just stopping and breathing in. Just, all these things can really help us, I think, become more mature in the way we embrace and experience our emotions.
Shannon: Absolutely. I think there’s so much of a pressure that comes from this stage of maybe being a small business owner or entrepreneur, and there’s just such a benefit to releasing yourself, ourselves from that pressure. Being okay, we continue to say with, creating a space for connection, for vulnerability. Whether that’s going to your staff and your coworkers and your peers, your leadership team, and just being honest about how you’re feeling and what they’re feeling. Just taking the time and taking the space to open up, be vulnerable, connect with others, who are probably dealing with the same thing that you are or can relate to something. They can just open your mind to seeing things that you haven’t seen yet.
Joe: As we wind down this episode, but also this season, we wanted to give you one last opportunity and encouragement a challenge to sit with your fear and be with it. In this last exercise, thinking about you as the process of leading a team or running your small business or pursuing that next client, what are some of the fears related to those activities? Ask yourself a two part question, what am I afraid of now? Just stopping and breathing and being able to just be with that for a moment. Not trying to rush off to the next part of this process and not really trying to do anything with that. You spoke these words, you wrote these words, just let them be.
And then start to move forward with it by asking the next question, it switches, and then what? I think if you think back to my conversation with [Lindsay 00:25:49], where sometimes her vision is always the negative, the worst case scenarios. And sometimes we can do that. We can just think about, either the first part and we get paralyzed, well what are our fears? And then we don’t think about, what are the alternatives? What are the ways this thing can play out? Again, it may sound a little redundant to some of the other exercises, but it’s another way of just taking a moment, turning some stuff off, turning the distractions off, putting some boundaries up around yourself and just sitting there and making space for you to explore your fears.
Because I feel like that seems to be the biggest missed opportunity, we’re always on to the next activity. This is another opportunity for you just to stop, be with that, take a moment to breathe, find some space, find some clarity.
Shannon: Absolutely. We hope that you found this conversation was helpful, was maybe informative, enlightening, whatever. For sure, for myself, but we thank you just for spending some more time with us working through a deep and heavy conversation that, like we’ve said, every person deals with. And Joe and I deal with every single day and small business owners deal with it. If you have any more questions or comments related to this conversation on fear, we welcome them. We’d love to talk to you about what we can do for you at Keyhole Marketing. So as always, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe: And if you have any other ideas for future seasons, we’d love to hear that kind of stuff.
Joe: We have some visions, I think, for the next couple of seasons, but we’d love your input. Some things you would want to hear. Again, that mysterious side of marketing, what are some things that might be holding you up or you’re trying to process and move forward with? So we’d love to explore that with you. Thanks so much for the time, and we’ll talk to you next season.