We are at the final piece of this series, but I believe it’s the most important one.
Both the entrepreneur and their life partner feel three common emotions for different reasons. Together they make up A.S.S.: ALONE, STRESSED, and SCARED.
The funny thing is that fear drives the first two.
There are so many ways in which we experience fear in this lifestyle: Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, money fears (having it or not having it), imposter syndrome, etc. Ultimately, it’s all the other, smaller fears that isolate us and cause stress.
Entrepreneurship requires a certain level of courage. Courage is not just something you can pick up down at Walmart. Only a special few can embody it. Not bravery, mind you. Courage is a state of mind where bravery comes in spurts. Both require that fear be pushed aside so action may take place. Courage simultaneously fuels and insulates us from fear. But, fear never really goes away. It’s like you carry it in your back pocket while you just do what needs to be done.
To be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to constantly change hats and do the stuff you’re not comfortable with. You have to hire other people and put your livelihood in their hands. Your success affects those other people and so do your failures. That pressure is fear-provoking. Timing is everything; you just have to trust that the stars will align in your favor, and even though luck matters you still have to work your A.S.S. off. And even that is sometimes not enough. You always know that in the back of your mind.
In my experience as the spouse with no involvement in the business, my biggest fears were that I had no control over my own life and, even worse, that the kids and I weren’t enough to make Adam happy. I had “attached my little red wagon” to this man. Sure, I had my own things, but his company was our bread and butter. We depended on him completely and that terrified me. I had no control, and no say. I have a pretty strong independent streak, but I had to trust him completely to take care of us. I had to watch him play some pretty risky moves and I had to believe that we’d come out on the other side. I had to believe in HIM. (That kind of blind faith does not come naturally to me.)
I’ve always loved a bad boy. Adam is one of the best human beings I’ve ever known, but his nature is a little wild and restless. It’s something I really love about him, and maybe that small level of danger is what attracted me to him. But as a mom, I felt it was my job to provide security for my kids. It was really important to me to build a strong home base with a big village to love on them. Reckless and risky had no place there.
And the more I tried to tie Adam down, the more adventure and risk he craved. Instead of jumping out of planes, he started businesses. Business after business. Risk after risk. Failure after failure. I’ve never seen any one person be so resilient! But, he wanted more and he went after it. Hard.
He was an adrenaline junky, he was motivated by certain fears, and it kept him moving forward. And the farther he moved from us the more concerned I was that he’d never come back. How could someone so full of this spirit be content to live in a tiny town in the upstate of South Carolina? What if I wasn’t enough? What if more happened on those business trips than business? How could we possibly hold his attention?
In our early years I only got information in small chunks and because I already felt like my life was spinning out of control, any news I got would send me into an Armageddon-level fear spiral. What if we can’t pay the mortgage? What is we can’t feed the kids? What if they come and take everything from us? And I had no one to hold accountable for my fear….. but Adam.
And so, fear caused the ultimate break down of trust in our marriage.
Don’t worry. The story ends well.
We worked to regain trusts and abate fears. And Adam took the time to SHOW me how he made decisions, mitigated risks, and put up safety walls around us. When it felt like we were doing it together, it was a lot less scary.
Now that I too am an entrepreneur, I get it. All the risk, all the exposure, all the fear is worth it to live a life in which you live to work, not just work to live. It’s so satisfying to build and create a thing and watch it bloom. It’s scary and exciting. There are still days that I feel like I’m standing on the side of a pool trying to talk myself into jumping. Now I jump, because I’m not letting fear control me anymore. It’s still there in my back pocket, but I WILL jump. Every. Single. Time.