The language of fear
September 16th, 2013 - 130 Comments
I learned a new phrase the other day.
I was writing an answer on Quora about how to turn a blog into business, and I wrote:
First, let me say that I think there should be a word to describe industries where people who have spent years doing it try to dissuade everyone else from getting in the industry because they know how horrible it really is. For example, musicians, lawyers, and authors will all tell you, straight up, “Dude, this sucks. Do something else. Anything else. But for the love of god, not this.”
For 99% of people, starting a blog is a terrible way to make money. You might as well take your money, shred it, spend a year sewing it back together by hand, and then light it on fire. You will still have saved time and heartache.
Interestingly, a commenter told me to look up “entry deterrence” and I learned that, indeed, my home-grown rant has actual academic backing.
I was thinking about an interesting chat with a friend a while back. He wanted to start a business, so he took me out to coffee to ask a few questions. See if you can guess where the conversation went:
- “I was thinking of doing XXXX, but there are already 5 sites doing it…”
- “Where would I even find out how to do a business plan?”
- “I think I should wait until I figure out how to redesign my website.”
You know when you have a conversation with someone and they just want you to agree with them? By the end, I just wanted to say, “Yeah…I see what you mean.”
Each of these questions is very real to this person — but they’re also masking deep fears beneath each. For example, “There are already 5 sites doing it” = why would anyone choose me? (And if they can’t articulate the question, they can’t articulate the answer.)
What would you do in this situation? You can’t be rude and say, “Yeah, you’re right — you can’t do it. All your doubts are correct.” The truth is, they probably COULD succeed if they confronted and handled these barriers.
Remember, they don’t feel their fears are irrational. To them, these are perfectly logical and reasonable concerns. But these untested fears are paralyzing them from taking action. And the language they use allows them to continue being paralyzed (“I think I should wait until I get a website” = “It has to be perfect or the world will laugh at me”).
What’s an UNTESTED fear you had and how did you describe it? Was it taking an advanced workout class (“I need to get in shape before I take that”)…going to a cocktail party where you didn’t know anyone (“Why would anyone want to talk to me?”)…or applying for a job above your skillset (“They need 5 years of experience…I only have 4”).
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