Episode 24: Imposter Syndrome and the Fear of Failure

Over the years, I have spent several times reflecting on where I am in my progress as an entrepreneur and real estate investor. A couple episodes back I went into depth on the specifics of my progress; things have come a long way for us at Bolt Storage, but it hasn’t always been easy to see that in the moment.  In this episode of the Nick Huber Show, I want to dive into these emotions and address a common condition that is the cause of why most entrepreneurs fail in business: imposter syndrome and our fear of failure. 

What is imposter syndrome?  It’s described by The Business Collective as:

“…[a] psychological phenomenon where people feel like they don’t deserve their accomplishments. Internally they feel like a fraud, or they worry that one day someone will find out that they are not good enough.”

Especially during this time of year, I’m grateful for where I am in my company and feel lucky to have experienced the success that we are having right now, but I would be lying if I said that I haven’t had insecurities throughout all of it.  Thoughts creep in:  “I must be flying too close to the sun.”;  “If it’s this easy, why isn’t everybody doing this?”; or “What if I’m wrong about all these educated guesses and logical decisions I’ve made?” “what if my employees don’t trust and respect me as a leader?”; “What if Im’m going to end up as just another guy who makes a little money just to lose everything?”

It’s as If I have a guy on my shoulder constantly yelling at me that everyone will eventually find out that I’m just an average guy with below average intelligence, and have no business building something this big. These insecurities and questions come in waves with all that doubts hitting me. I begin to spiral down thinking about the 30+ people depending on me for their employment––the 100+ outside of those employees who indirectly depend on that employment. I think of my own family; my own kids and roof over my head. Not to mention, I think of the 200+ investors that have put their trust in us with the precious capital that they had worked hard for; they count on me having my shit together and pulling off a return on their investment. 

There’s something very unique and scary as hell about taking risks when everything seems to depend on you. It’s like being the pilot of a plane; there is fear in feeling that the plane is off the ground, I’m flying it, I’m guiding it, and there is no turning back. Further, it feels like no one onboard has parachutes, and can’t do much for themselves. That is stress, that is fear. 

Most of the time, logic comes back, I look at the books and all the evidence in front of me and realize that DESPITE the things that have gone wrong (because a lot has gone wrong) we will still make it out the other side. 

But beyond this, I have also experienced an exhilaration:  that same fearful concept that everything depends on me––if I lose, it’s my fault––can equally sprout confidence: because if I win, it is also my fault; It’s because of me. This encourages me and makes me feel alive. I have a sense of inner peace because I am in control of my own destiny. I don’t fear risk as much because I am focusing on the things that are in my control

Now it can be tempting, and is often my response, when I get that voice in my head telling me “You can’t do this; you shouldn’t be so sure of yourself.” to put my head down and go to work. I often plow through others telling them to get out of my way and attempt to seize control of the situation. But I’ve learned time and time again that that is not the right way to think. In fact, when I think this way, I actually end up abandoning my own team and work on the wrong things. So, the real key for me is to take a step back, and spend more time reviewing what needs to work on rather than: “Ready! Fire! Aim!” Ask yourself, “What is the most valuable use of my time at this moment?”

It can be so easy in high stressful situations to get distracted and lose sight of your role as a business owner. So entrepreneurs end up meeting this stress by burying their heads in busy work and they ignore the bigger problems that they need to focus on.  This in turn, crushes them. That’s what makes managing time as a business leader one of the essential skills that entrepreneurs need to constantly work on and keep in check. 

I have learned that when I am under stress, I need to spend my time being a leader by delegate correctly and giving my employees better tools to make better decisions. Using the plane analogy again, my job as a  pilot flying through severe turbulence isn’t to be the one going through the cabin making sure everyone’s in their seat with their seat belt on; my job is to stay in the cockpit and make sure that we’re going in the right direction. 

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we need to focus on making clear, and unemotional decisions. Insecurity and fear have its place, it does keep us from flying too close to the sun. It keeps us humble from thinking we know everything. It keeps us from taking too much risk. But this insecurity and fear that we all face can affect some people negatively. For some it crushes their ability to take risk at all, it crushes their ability to sell, it keeps them from progressing. 

Beyond its ability to humble, insecurity and fear can be a hindrance. For me, it can keep me from doing my best work. It makes me emotional, and I no longer have the ability to make clear and rational decisions. Because of that, I have found it best to stuff those feelings when they come up, that’s what works for me. But I don’t know how it impacts you.  I’m not going to be that guy that tells you to “GO at all costs! Push through the failure at all costs!” That motivation isn’t for everyone. 

And, truth be told, sometimes that fear is revealing weak areas in your entrepreneurial skills, especially if you are in the middle of getting your business off the ground.  This is important to listen to in order to avoid making unnecessarily high risks. That’s why here at the Sweaty Startup we believe in taking smaller risks at first and working your way up to bigger risks. This allows for mistakes and helps you learn. It’s natural to feel a bit of fear, it often helps us see our blind spots and helps us be humble. Acknowledge it, listen to it but only to the extent that it doesn’t become debilitating.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. If I lose, it’s my fault, but equally if I win, it is also my fault; It’s because of me. I am in control of my own destiny.
  2. Take a step back, and spend more time reviewing what needs to work on. Ask yourself, “What is the most valuable use of my time at this moment?”
  3. Take smaller risks at first and work your way up to bigger risks. This allows for you to make mistakes and helps you learn.

The Nick Huber Show is Brought to You By:

Juniper Square

  • An incredibly easy way to manage and automate your real estate investment deals with your investors.
  • Stay organized and look and stay professional with Juniper Square
  • Go to www.junipersquare.com to learn more.

Join like minded individuals who are seeking to improve every aspect of their business through our Real Estate Community. Or, simply subscribe to our podcast for more valuable content to help give you that leg up in real estate.

Don't know where to start?
About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.