Posts Tagged ‘Mindset’

Overcomming the Fear of Success



Advice on how to overcome the fear of failure is everywhere: from corporate-sponsored seminars to magazines at the checkout counter.  Being aware of the potential for failure can be helpful, especially if you shine enough light on the fear to develop a safety net. However, many business owners have another fear, the fear of success, which holds them back from achieving their initial business goals. Fear of success often goes unrecognized, or we mistakenly call it fear of failure, which increases its power over us. If you’ve been working towards a goal without the success you want, look at these symptoms to see if you might be struggling with the idea of success:

  • You postpone the work necessary to win a big proposal;
  • You complete 90% of a product or service launch, over and over;
  • You avoid telling others about your achievements, or belittle your achievements;
  • Enjoying the fruits of your success is difficult and you rarely treat yourself;
  • You worry that your success won’t be sustainable;
  • When you see evidence of your success, your thoughts turn to those who never reached their goals.

If any of these sound familiar, don’t give up! It is possible to reach your goals without a complete mental overhaul. The first thing you must do is to write down your definition of success. Is it one million in revenue? Ten million? It may not be monetary at all. Define it and write it at the top of a clean sheet of paper.  Next, make a list of what you would do if you reached your goal. Consider material changes to your life as well as intrinsic, personal changes.  Write down what you fear might happen if you became successful; this often includes fears surrounding a lifestyle, family or friends. Many small business owners began the venture, in part, to enjoy more freedom, so it’s no wonder that they fear losing it.

Once you’ve defined success, possible life changes, and the fears about those changes, it’s time to create a safety net. Imagine a warning system or a buffer that keeps you from hitting your fears, a system to implement when you reach pre-defined milestones. Again, here are some examples:

  1. A client concerned about his increased work load found a strong partner who invested in the company and shared the load – both mentally and day to day tasks;
  2. One client who was worried about losing precious family time scheduled vacations for several years out, and invested in vacations a year in advance;
  3. My first coach gave me the task of creating an “Absolute Yes” list, a list of five priorities I would say “yes” to; if it wasn’t on that list, it was a “no”.

Fear of success can prevent us from taking action, lead us down faulty paths, and chew up a lot of time and energy.  Bring some definition to what might be holding you back and it loses its power over you. Bring a solution to that fear, and you move right past it.


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach


Two Simple Solutions to Move Past Fear; Improve Business Operations

Last week, a client articulated why he hadn’t found the time to contact the prospects he had agreed to contact – he was scared. I was thrilled that he had identified and accepted the reason; the next step was to do something about it.

Business owners love to tell themselves that they don’t have time, they don’t have the money, they don’t have the contacts, they’re located in the wrong area, or they don’t have enough help. More often than not, the truth is that they are scared – scared of failing, scared of succeeding. Rather than face that truth, which means we might need to do something about it, we choose the excuse of the week. The amount of mental and emotional energy we waste is astronomical. Instead, here are two simple and effective solutions:

  1. Find a different action that we are willing to take, that will bring us to the same endpoint (which why being clear about our true vision is so critical). Here’s a personal example: honestly, I’m not thrilled about giving a prepared speech in front of a large audience. I’ll do it, but I stress out about it. Early in my coaching business, I was asked to give a speech. I said “I could, but I’d love the chance to coach people from the audience, in a live setting.” It was a gut response, not planned, but it felt right and true. I did coach live, and I loved every second of it. Although I was in front of a hundred people, it felt like there were two people in the room – me, and the “client”. I achieved my goal – introducing people to my business – in a setting as comfortable to me as my own kitchen. And, I gained business.
  2. Take baby steps. Business owners love to commit to “calling 50 people” or “setting up five prospect meetings a week”. Those are terrific goals if you will do them; if your stated goals are such an enormous stretch for you that it would take an act of Congress to get it done, scratch it and select a more realistic goal – still a stretch, but achievable. Compare your business goals to running a marathon: if you’re new to long distance running, you might start with five miles and ratchet it up. All too often in business, though, we decide to “run 26.2 miles” on day one. I envision a funnel that we incrementally move up the more we try new skills. Our reservoir of business skills gets bigger and bigger.

Although my client didn’t contact his prospects, he did take on two new agreements that he was excited about:

  1. He loves speaking in front of groups, and eagerly chose to set that up.
  2. He chose two people to call this week. At first he said ten, then five, and when he said “two” his shoulders relaxed, his voice softened, every part of his being relaxed. And when we’re more relaxed, we perform better and create stronger results.

Some coaches would have pushed for more, but I know that success is what he needs this week. Next week, I’m confident that he’ll willingly agree to call more and he’ll do it with a smile on his face.


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach



Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Push Through Assumptions to Reach Success

I had a conversation with a business owner the other day, and she was telling me how the results she wanted weren’t going to happen. The talk went something like this:





Therefore, failure.

“Whoa, back the train up”, I said. “I heard some facts in there along with a pretty big assumption.” I waited for her to acknowledge and defend the statement but she was so convinced about her story that she couldn’t even identify the assumption at first. To her, every statement was an irrefutable fact. We walked through the story and discussed alternatives to her assumption and found evidence that those alternatives exist, although not for her. We then looked, and found, avenues for those alternatives to occur in her business (surprise!). Once we found different paths she was able to create a new story that went something like this:





Therefore, success.

Let me give you a concrete example from another client:

I have gained new clients from past events, prior to the recession.

My competition has had recent events with large turnouts.

My recent events have had low turnout.

I can’t get new clients from events anymore (assumption).

Therefore, I must not be any good at events anymore or I’m not going to get new clients anymore (your failure statement of choice).

It’s obvious when we see it in writing. So guess what your assignment is :)?

If you’ve been struggling to reach a goal, or the next time you hear yourself say “I can’t….” or “It won’t work to…” write down all the reasons why you can’t or why it won’t work – at least ten. Get up and walk around for five minutes. Next, as objectively as possible, decide about and write “fact” or “assumption” next to each statement. If you struggle, ask someone else to do it for you.

Once you’ve identified assumptions, get creative and imagine alternatives; if you’ve seen the alternatives occur, that’s even better. Choose an alternative path to your goal that seems most likely, a timetable, and take action. I can’t guarantee success with every alternative but I can promise progress.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach



Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Business is a Head Game: Start Your Own Small Business Economic Recovery

What a difference a couple of hours can make. Monday’s 8 AM news was gloomy as a key manufacturing index (the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index) was expected to show a manufacturing contraction or be flat for the month of September. The 10 AM news announced an unexpected manufacturing expansion – up approximately 2 points over estimates. Intended or not, the news announcer’s tone was markedly different and, personally, I felt a little jolt of excitement. This index has no bearing on my business, but it still affected me. Business really is a head game.Institute for Supply Management’s factory index

Manufacturing indices, employment statistics, and the GDP are all valid measures of the economy. The Consumer Confidence Index, while based on subjective questions, is still an indicator with merit. Where these national indicators don’t make a hill of beans difference is with what the small business owner, you, does today. Does knowing that the ISM index is up 2 points honestly impact your growth or profitability outcome? Of course not. But all too often we let the news around us impact how we feel about our own business and, ultimately, what actions we take. All too often I’ve heard business owners say something like “I can’t wait for the economy to turn around so my business will grow again.” A robust economy will most likely help, but there are many growing, prosperous businesses. Clients from service to retail and to not-for-profits have all experienced growth throughout the recession and continue to grow. 

If you’re tired of waiting for the economy to fully recover and are ready to take action, here are some small business economic recovery ideas to get you started:

1. Turn off the news. Be selective about your news providers.

2. Avoid naysayers, the “doom and gloom” business owners. There’s a convenience store I avoid for just this reason – the unemployed and slow construction crews hang out there and I just don’t want to hear their whining. I prefer to hang out with the high-quality construction company who is booked out for three months. 

3. Look for opportunities presented from the current economy. What opportunities exist because consumers have less discretionary money? If your area has high unemployment, this could affect traffic patterns; find a way to utilize those new patterns. Opportunities exist everywhere.

4. Focus on quality and service. As I said, there are growing, prosperous businesses out there; every single one is excellent at what they do and how they deliver their product or service.

The weekly unemployment numbers were released today; September’s unemployment rate announced on Friday. Listen if you must but, let it affect your day? Please; provide the best quality service and products possible and take action.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach



Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Get Connected, Get Smarter

Subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog.

Q: What do you get when you put a couple of business coaches, a financial planner, an on-line business entrepreneur, and the owner of a successful NYC printing company in a room together?

A: New ideas, insights, out of the box thinking and knowledge from adjacent industries.

I’ve been looking forward to a retreat with my business coach and other business owners. Even though I’ve experienced the magic that happens when I’m with a group of bright business owners, it wasn’t until I read Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Stephen Johnson that I discovered that the “magic” was backed up with historical evidence and science. Studies revealed that innovation is a result of people gathered together; individuals get smarter because they get connected to a network. The story of a scientist having a “Eureka!” moment is more often a group collaborating, of one idea leading to another. Better yet, I think, is when a group of seemingly disconnected people, businesses or ideas come together; without the constraints of each individual view, education, or experiences the ideas grow by bumping into each other, so to speak. A B2B service provider recently loved the idea I borrowed from a client in the financial services industry – the collision of the two industries accelerated his growth. Scientist Stuart Kauffman named these new combinations “the adjacent possible.” I love this phrase, because it reminds me how important it is to step out of our comfortable box to find what is possible.

If you’re feeling low on ideas, there is scientific data that suggests one of the best things you could do is go hang out with someone in a completely different industry. Have lunch with a musician; attend a conference or take a class on a subject you have an interest in, but one that is not related to your work. Cooking classes, anyone? Make new connections, get smarter.

  – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.