What could go wrong with your business plan? Do you know the worst case scenario? I had an interesting conversation with a trusted advisor last week. We were talking about the difference between fear and being scared. Through our discussion we noticed that fear and being fearful can be damaging and debilitating as it leads us further from our desired outcome instead of taking us towards it. At times, the fear and pressure feels so real, we go into survival mode: fight, flight or freeze. This neurological survival instinct happens even when we aren’t in an actual life or death situation. When the amygdala takes over and detects a threat, we might come out swinging and overdo it with an overly aggressive approach. Other times we exit to avoid the threat, possibly overlooking an opportunity in the process. Or we might just get stuck and do nothing hoping it will pass. So what’s the difference between being fearful and being scared? Being fearful means you are stuck in your fear. It’s the elephant in the room you pretend is not there. You are defensive about it, are resistant, and maybe even ignorant. In the simplest terms: you lack awareness. You can't say, "My fear is...." because that would require acknowledging you are afraid and that something is getting in your way. Being scared means knowing you might be or have been fearful, but you choose to respond as opposed to letting your survival instinct take control. Beyond life and death threats, being scared would be the norm in a variety of circumstances, including when you are facing something new. To move beyond the fearful state, you need to acknowledge the fear exists, and get curious about it. Shed light on it and ask questions like: What’s my real concern? What are my options? What’s my intention? What possibility gets me closest to my desired outcome? This curiosity and exploration doesn’t remove the fear, and you might still feel scared, but you are facing it. You are working through it actively to create the future you want, and in my experience that tends to bring both the fear and scared meters down. That is the real opportunity with this question posed about what could go wrong with your business plan and what’s the worst case scenario. It offers the chance to face your fear and shed some light on it. It’s permission to get curious; admit your fear; acknowledge that you are scared because you are human and you haven’t faced this scenario before, but look to do something about it anyway. When you take that path of exploration, you harness your fear as an asset instead of being captive to it as a liability. You can then plan a course of action that mitigates what your primal instincts are doing their best to protect you from. It’s like the nightlight in a kid’s room that makes those monsters seem a little less scary. Without the nightlight, we leave those fears in the dark and they get bigger, often taking on a life of their own and creating new monsters and things to be fearful of. However, when we explore what could go wrong and get curious about the worst case scenario, we shed light on it, admit what we are concerned about and, even in that small step, the worst case feels a little less dark. So plug in your nightlight, and take some time to explore what could go wrong. Understand what you think the worst case is, and make sure the projects on the strategic plan for your business help to acknowledge and mitigate those scenarios.
Kerage founder, Karen Kersey, writes for our partner vNacelle, a strategic consulting firm committed to growing, reigniting and empowering the entrepreneurial spirit in all of us.