I attended an American international school. This meant that I was exposed to various cultures and celebrations.
One holiday that my western classmates looked forward to was Halloween, celebrated on October 31 every year.
During the week leading up to Halloween, my classmates shared horror stories and talked about their fears.
As children, we had common fears. We were afraid of ghosts, burglars, getting lost and murderers.
As we grew older, many of us have overcome these fears. What instilled fear in us and made us afraid to go to bed for weeks doesn’t seem so scary in hindsight.
But that doesn’t mean we became fearless people; our fears took a different form.
Some are now afraid of losing loved ones or failing at a business they invested time in building.
As fearless as I thought I had become, I developed new fears when I ventured into entrepreneurship.
I was afraid of uncertainty and how it could impact my business. I was afraid of failure that could cost me everything I worked hard for and of not having what it takes to manage a business as it expands.
But it was comforting to know that fellow entrepreneurs also had similar fears.
I knew that as long as these fears lingered inside my brain, my business wouldn’t grow.
My mother once told me that most of what we fear is exaggerated by our imagination.
When I was afraid of a thriller movie I watched with my cousins, she showed me a video of behind-the-scenes and how the special effects were made. I felt comfortable and didn’t ask to sleep with her that night.
Just as my mother had done with me, I had to learn how to dissect the fears I had as an entrepreneur and how to overcome them.
When it came to my fear of failure, I knew that the more prepared I was, the less likely it would happen.
I dedicated time to learning and when one option didn’t work out, I tried multiple others.
I learnt that everything has a solution. It may be unknown to us, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
I also learnt that instead of treating failure as a scary monster that I should hide from, I had to befriend it.
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Failure was bound to happen in one form or another. Whether it is failure to make a certain decision or failure to properly cater to your customers, failure happens.
It is part of the process and I chose to learn from it and use it as a building block towards my future.
As for my fear of uncertainty, I know that there will be external factors beyond our control; factors such as an economic crisis or a pandemic.
What we can control is how we react to these factors. I trained myself to be agile and flexible, and to not resist change. Since then, everything has become easier.
But the biggest fear I had to conquer was believing that I didn’t have what it takes to manage my business as it expanded.
This took me back to a question: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I was overwhelming myself, forgetting that I had also evolved with my business and if I didn’t know the answer, then mentors and acquaintances could always help.
Once I dissected my fears, I realised they weren’t so scary. The great thing is that opportunities always lay on the other side of fear.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.