Launching a company is the culmination of many things. Yes, it’s the realization of a dream, the proof of gumption, it’s even an act of bravado. But, at its heart, launching and growing a company is the truest test of allowing confidence to win over base instincts. Internally, we may just want to sit on the nearest rock and not move, like an iguana. But even though we have brains that relate to reptiles (true story), we can overcome it create a company whose growth outshines our fears and surpasses our expectations.
As you’re growing your company, whether you’re a startup looking to secure funding or a C-Suite leader looking to evolve your organization into an industry leader, it’s easy to second-guess yourself. Because let’s face it: growth is hard. It’s one thing to dream up your company behind closed doors, surrounded by your team, fellow believers and friends. It’s another thing to put it into the world and say “my dream is here to mash things up and make life easier for my clients.” While we’re surrounded by motivational slogans and hashtags (#slayallday, anyone?), how do you make that leap from dreaming to being the unicorn?
A Guide to Neurological Confidence
The number one way to do that, my friends, is by allowing confidence to guide you that it is time to grow.
Now before I go any further, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: imposter syndrome. As a 20+ year veteran stand-up comic, I have been afflicted by imposter syndrome… pretty much every day of my life. When you’re a performer, it’s hard not to. When you see another comic kill a set, or discover another organization in your space that’s gone into domination mode, it’s hard not to retreat under the proverbial covers (or in my case, actual covers, but that’s between me and my therapist).
What’s happening from a neurological perspective
What’s happening at that moment, from a neurological perspective, is incredibly common and even part of our basic DNA. Commonly called fight or flight response, our brains can be hijacked by its oldest part, the amygdala. It is also known as the “reptilian brain” because it’s our most primitive self, one akin to ancient hunter/gatherers who had to rely on fear to survive. Back when we were running away from Mastadons, it was important to be finely attuned to fight or flight. But how does that serve in today’s entrepreneurial landscape?
Turns out, it can be a bit of a deterrent. The amygdala, not realizing its the 21st Century, will often scream at you “DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER DEVELOPING YOUR DREAM APP ABOUT SQUIRREL FEEDERS IT’S BEEN DONE A THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE. GET A JOB AT DAIRY QUEEN.” The amygdala, in an attempt to protect us from harm, tells us to keep that dream company safe inside your imagination alone, to keep your company scaled small because growth challenges our evolutionary comfort zone. It’s a natural, instinctive way to react.
But are you going to let your amygdala be the boss of you?
Yes, it can incredibly scary to consciously grow your company to the next level. However, with supportive data and an excellent team surrounding you, you can face down your amygdala and lean into the confidence you also have naturally inside you. Through preparation, confidence exercises, and even meditation, you can help get your prefrontal cortex (or the part of the brain that promotes planning and work execution) into shape. Just as the brain can try to trick you into not believing in yourself enough to take the next step, you can train it to accept your confident self and allow it to guide you through the growth process. It’s a matter, in so many words, of telling your inner iguana to shut up.
So the next time you’re making a leap in your business, whether it be through preparing for series funding pitches, designing a keynote speech, or even just psyching yourself up to take your business to the next level, just remember this: you’re not an iguana. You’re here to consciously and confidently kick ass.