One of my favorite ways to get “unstuck” as an entrepreneur (and in life in general), is to take a page out of one of my guilty pleasure TV shows: “This is Us” (which came back on-air this week so I might be a little less productive…).
Randall and Beth are #marriedgoals in so many ways, but I particularly love their “worst case scenario” exercise. When faced with a daunting challenge, they rapid-fire free verse their worst fears to each other. They take turns blurting out “all the bad things that we’re thinking. No judgement, no censorship.” By collaboratively brainstorming what could go wrong, they name their most debilitating fears and bring them to light. This 2 step process of 1) surfacing and 2) sharing harnesses the power of actionable empathy to right-size your worries.
Because when we name and share our worst case scenarios, we can usually see them better for what they really are – eminently survivable. This is how I started my first company, Julep. I imagined what would happen if I fell flat on my face. In the abstract, failure is scary. But when I pushed myself to actually imagine what happens on day 1 after failure, I realized that no one would emblazon an “F” to my forehead and haul me out to the dessert alone to perish. The more realistic “worst case scenario” was that I could always go back and get another corporate job pretty much like the one I was leaving. Not that same job, or that same company, but one close enough. Taking the step of fleshing out that picture, and then sharing it with a friend, made the challenge surmountable.
In summary, these are the fundamental equations I’ve figured out so far:
Abstract fear + hiding = STUCK
Concrete fear + sharing = UNSTUCK
The key is to have someone who can engage in this exercise with you without judgement. I’m grateful for my spouse, girlfriends and family who do this for me.