April Blog: Courageously Unafraid

April Blog: Courageously Unafraid
Featuring: Christy Maxfield

As founder of Purpose First Advisors, my focus is on helping business owners build, grow and exit their businesses on purpose. Whether you bought, built or inherited a business, the role is a daunting one. Likewise, being a visionary leader in any organization requires equal doses of creativity and courage.

In my experience, wherever you are leading from, there is something you are resisting because you are afraid. Fears are not limited to the role or title you hold, though they are often amplified when you’re at the top of the organization. 

It might surprise you to know that the opposite of fear is not courage. Courage is what we experience when we are willing to take action despite being afraid. One isn’t courageous if they do something they don’t fear. 

Isn’t that crazy! 

By definition, you act with courage when you do something that frightens you or act with strength in the face of pain or grief. Often, a) a desire to avoid the unpleasant emotions associated with fear and/or b) the underlying beliefs we have about what it means if we fail, succeed, relinquish control, etc. are allowed to dictate the choices we make. 

If I believe failing will cause me to lose the trust of someone I admire, I’m not going to fully implement growth strategies that feel risky. Likewise, if I believe that success will create a chasm between me and family or friends who will feel like I’ve ‘become someone else’ or ‘forgotten where I came from,’ I may set my goals lower than what I know I’m capable of achieving so as to not jeopardize the relationship.

Our fear may be based on a learned belief that’s gone unexamined, like the idea that ‘I’m not good with money.’ Or we might get caught up in imagining all the things that could go wrong to the exclusion of what might happen if everything goes right. Then again, sometimes our fear is based on a clear understanding of what will happen as a result of us taking action and we have to decide whether we are prepared to live with the disappointment of not taking action or the consequences of creating what we desire. 

 My hope is that when you are on the precipice of being timid, pulling back, freezing or fleeing in reaction to the unknown, you will choose to examine the belief that is driving your fear and ask yourself, 

How can I become courageous?’ 

I believe knowledge and understanding is where we find our courage and the ability to make new choices about how to react when faced with our fears about failure, success, being enough, appearing competent, meeting the expectations of others, and losing control. But you may have noticed that simply being more knowledgeable about something doesn’t often relieve your fear of being able to bridge the gap between knowing what you want or need to do and doing it. More information and new ideas can lead to feeling overwhelmed by too many choices and opportunities.

Herein lies the power of having a coach.

Coaches help create an environment where leaders can examine their beliefs, acquire knowledge and understanding, make plans, and take action.

For coachees, part of the experience is knowing you’re not alone. You are working with someone who has faced these fears before, challenged similar underlying beliefs, seen strategies others have used to achieve their goals, and is totally committed to your success.  

Your coach is also responsible for helping you DO the things that will provide evidence of your ability to achieve your goals. Some of this is a result of helping you decide what to do next to move toward your desired end result. Clarity of purpose makes it easier to decide where to put your energies. 

Another part is creating an environment of accountability in which you feel accountable to yourself having made commitments to which your coach helps keep you aligned. This includes reflecting back to you what you have defined as your desired end result, especially when you might be getting off track. 

Other techniques focus on helping you create an environment that supports you in making decisions and taking action aligned to your goals. This may include prioritizing, calendaring time to work on your business/leading your team, hiring more people, documenting SOPs, creating financial goals, and/or delegating. 

Your coach also helps you raise the bar, to level up, as they say, as you continue to hit new milestones. Your coach should be committed to providing you with the tools, feedback, support, and encouragement you need to regularly reassess the current state of your career or business and reorient to new desired end results. This may be a shift from growing your team to finding ways to replace yourself so you can step out of day-to-day operations. Or you might be ready for your next adventure and focus on figuring out what it will take to sell your business or leave your current role. 

Some might say your coach helps you feel the fear but do it anyway. I prefer to think that coaches help you examine the fear and acquire the knowledge and understanding you need to make intentional choices about what you want. Then, with their help, you can take action - act courageously - knowing you have the support and resources you need to succeed regardless of the outcome. Each time you do this, you become more confident in your abilities as a business owner or leader and tap into the calm confidence needed to build a life you love. 

Christy Maxfield is President and CEO of Purpose First Advisors. She is a senior business advisor who specializes in helping business owners accelerate growth and build business value to reach income and wealth goals.