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Anxiety & Decision Making

November 13, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Does stress or anxiety play a role in our decision-making?

We live in an information age where you can hear about everything – whether you want to or not. It is difficult sometimes to discern how accurate some of this information is. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why there are so many reviews or opinion sites.

Who’s Opinion Counts?

And think about this for a minute: We often don’t buy anything from a toaster to a car without checking some kind of review. When traveling, we often look at what others have said about a place to stay or eat.

Yet who are these people we pay so much attention to? What is their expertise or background?

Does it even matter anymore?

Years ago we would talk to a technician or an expert like a mechanic or our downtown shop owner. We tried to find out technical information from qualified sources. Now we seem to be more interested in comments and opinions about how people like you and me FEEL about a product.

Comments & Customers

Tell a story; be known as an expert, give an opinion is what many are pontificating on how to market - you. Just describing your product does not seem good enough anymore. Create a conversation, a buzz or even a “rave.” Add a little controversy – is that always a bad thing these days?

Yes, everyone seems to be commenting on everything.

The Anxiety Factor?

And for a small business person or community organization, I wonder if we are living in too much anxiety of all of this.

It’s tough enough to make a decision. Entrepreneurship is all about assessing risk. How we forge making a business decision based on some unknown future – now that has stress and anxiety written all over it. Do I invest in my business this winter? How much inventory should I buy? How many employees should I retain? Will there be snow?

Black or Gray?

But now one wrong move and it can be broadcast all over. And the thing is, it doesn’t even have to be wrong move – it can be just someone’s opinion.

In an article “What’s Fear Got to Do with Business – Living Beyond the Sidewalk” by Ellie Winslow, who is also the author of the book “Growing Your Rural Business,” discusses how fear can make for “faulty business decisions.”

Here is what is interesting: “Repeated fear (stress) causes changes in areas of the brain related to decision making.”

This reminds me of the axiom: “Negativity breeds negativity.”

Holding Us Back?

“There are plenty of fears and excuses that hold us back from getting what we want as entrepreneurs. But success (and failure) is a choice” writes Lewis Howes in a recent Entrepreneur Magazine article “Keys to Success: Overcoming 5 Fears That Hold Entrepreneurs Back.”

Howes talks about 5 common fears entrepreneurs have including:

• Not believing in yourself • Feeling you have to be “absolutely perfect” • Believing you lack enough experience to move forward

Keep It Simple?

Howes talks about “get things done” and “building small wins each day so you can gain the confidence you need to take on a goals game in your business.” “Make it a game,” he suggests, “to see how many small victories each day you can have.”

And maybe this is where all this information available gives us the wrong impression. It seems so complicated sometimes. But being involved in a community effort or a business is also about the simple things: customer service, value, consistency and a giving the customer a sense of confidence in what you offer.

Confidence

And that may be the hard part: to avoid the feeling of waiting for the next bad thing to happen and to be able to turn it around. Your customers are smart and they can read body language or note the tone of your on-line presence.

I keep next to my desk an older Entrepreneur magazine article. In “How to Break Through Fear and Self-Doubt” Grant Cardone writes “Fear and self-doubt plague all of us. To the degree you can overcome your insecurities, you will experience freedom to be yourself and reach your full potential as an entrepreneur.”

Too Comfortable?

Here is the one thing that struck me though: keep challenging yourself by moving beyond your comfort zone.

“Very successful people don't seek comfort;” Cardone states, “they seek success and are willing to do what is most uncomfortable. But most of the world is seeking comfort and familiarity, which are traps that cause you to settle for the mediocre. If you want to get to the next level of your business, you've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

The article “What’s Fear Got to Do with Business – Living Beyond the Sidewalk” concludes “Your success is hugely dependent on what you believe about it.” They state: “The few who look forward, while always knocking on new doors, no matter how futile it may seem or how insignificant their progress, will be successful while others just keep waiting for things to get better.”

It's a new world to be brave in.

 
 

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