Over the past several weeks I’ve coached three entrepreneurs through their launches – that big day when they release a new piece of work into the world for the very first time. If you’ve never done this yourself you would not believe the amount of energy that must be summoned to actually push the GO LIVE button on a new website or to ship the first product or to send that first proposal. Even with careful preparation and high hopes, it takes everything you have to get off the starting blocks.
Launches are scary business. I think it’s because in order to launch, you need to actually let people see your work. And letting them see your work feels an awful lot like letting them see you.
It’s one thing to be squirreled away in your office tinkering with a project and to imagine what will happen when real honest-to-goodness people see it for the first time. (Spoiler alert: In your imaginary launch they always love it.) It’s another thing altogether to put that project out in the world and find out what they really think.
I’ve known this for quite some time, and have felt it acutely in each of my own entrepreneurial launches, but I uncovered a nuance this week during a session with one of the women I coach.
This relatively seasoned entrepreneur was struggling to get herself to follow up with a list of leads. These were sales waiting to happen, but the leads had languished in her inbox for nearly a month. She knew she should call them, but she was just plain stuck. That may sound illogical to you, but it made perfect sense to me. And that’s when it hit me.
Sales calls are little launches, and launches take guts.
In fact, as I started to think about it, lots of things that aren’t actually launches can feel like launches, conjuring the same emotions. When you’re putting yourself out there and waiting for acceptance or rejection, for compliments or criticism….well, that’s a launch.
Just a few that come to mind are 1) asking someone out on a date, 2) inviting someone to come to an event or party that you are hosting, and 3) applying for a job. Even seemingly silly things – like debuting a new outfit that looked great in the dressing room but feels like a big fashion risk in the light of day – can invoke the same emotional turmoil as a launch.
You’ll question your judgment. You’ll play out unlikely scenarios that could unfold. You’ll second-guess your choices. You’ll wrestle with not feeling like anything is good enough.
You might need to pause before you act, waiting for your courage to catch up with you.
These episodes of pure vulnerability are by no means easy.
But what lies on the other side of them is so sweet that we have to learn to take the chance. We have to risk rejection or failure for our shot at success. We have to get ourselves out there.
If we’re being honest, I think we’ll find we’re all stuck somewhere, and it’s probably the spot where we feel the most vulnerable.
Where is that for you?
What would it take to summon your energy and get yourself off the starting blocks?