Risk-Takers Aren’t Fearless — They Just Face Their Fears

I asked myself this question a lot as a kid: “What would happen if I …?”

The stuff I would try wasn’t really the normal stuff that kids try. I went to extremes: I stuffed chalk up my nose, chewed on a wine glass, teased the neighbor’s bulldog even though my arm was broken and in a cast.

All that just to see what would happen.

My natural inclination for experimenting led me to become a bench scientist. In the early part of my career, I loved working in the lab, looking at cells under the microscope and doing experiments. I still live by the motto: “Let me try this and see what the outcome will be.”

Experimentation is about gathering information. The results inform me if I am heading in the right direction, or if I need to take another path.

As my career grew, I was able to channel this curious and creative spirit into becoming an entrepreneur. I was never afraid to experiment (obviously) but taking risks and experimenting as an entrepreneur is more complicated than taking risks in a controlled environment such as a lab.

One of the biggest emotions I have faced on a daily basis as an entrepreneur is fear.

It’s a bit ironic that people might perceive me or other entrepreneurs as risk-takers who are immune to fear. I feel fear every day as I make a hundred micro-decisions that could potentially affect my family, my employees and me.

I let my curiosity, creativity and experience guide me through the fear knowing that the more I practice my decision making, the more informed I will be, the more confident I will become, and the easier it will be to make bigger decisions.

Working with a business coach has helped me tremendously, too. Through my coaching sessions, I have been able to validate my decisions, which has allowed me to make better, more informed decisions and face my fears.

What I have learned is that taking risks isn’t about the consequences of making bad decisions. It’s about facing your fears and moving past them. 

The past year has been one of tremendous personal growth. My business is growing and I have successfully achieved all my goals for the year. I also gained insight into what my next set of decisions will be. I will always rely on my desire for taking risks (“experimentation”) to push through my fears.

I invite you to take more risks and push through your fears. This time, though, reframe risk as a personal experiment. Try something you’ve always wanted to try just to see “What would happen if I …?”

By Melissa Scrimo