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5 Success Tips for Anxious or Sensitive Entrepreneurs

How to succeed at entrepreneurship if you're prone to anxiety or sensitivity.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4045973322/ Photopin Cc
http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4045973322/ Photopin Cc
This is Part 2 in my series of success tips for people who are anxious or sensitive (If you missed it, here's Part 1).

The cognitive distortions and behavioral patterns associated with anxiety don't just cause intrapsychic suffering, they can also get in the way of success. Here are five tips for those on an entrepreneurial path.

1. Understand Your Avoidance Patterns.

Learn to identify when you're avoiding taking important actions.

For example, you're avoiding raising your rates. You charge less than your competitors because you want to avoid experiencing negative comments from existing customers if you raise your prices.

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The key principle to learn is that avoidance coping is typically about avoiding your own internal states e.g., you want to avoid ruminating or feeling guilty if you were to raise your prices.

In other words, avoidance coping isn't generally about other people's reactions, it's usually about your own reactions to their reactions, or your worries about their reactions. 

Learn to recognize common cognitive biases like excessively negative predictions. Learn mindfulness and physiological self-soothing techniques to help with rumination and develop the capacity to tolerate negative emotional states. (Read more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques that can help with overcoming avoidance coping.)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkosut/3631119830/ Photopin Cc

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkosut/3631119830/ Photopin Cc
2.  Develop Willingness to Delegate.

Entrepreneurs who are anxious or sensitive may resist delegating or outsourcing. This is a quick route to exhaustion.

At least three factors may contribute to resistance to delegating.

(a). Intolerance of uncertainty e.g., being unsure if the person you outsource to will do a good job, and therefore being unwilling to try it.

(b). “Unrelenting" (excessively high) or rigid standards about how something should be done, and

(c) For anxious people who are also introverts - outsourcing, hiring, and delegating all involve an extra relationship to manage (increased social contact, the possibility of having to say no to someone, setting limits, and exposing yourself to someone new who might get annoyed or upset with you from time to time).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/3090362266/ Photopin Cc

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/3090362266/ Photopin Cc
3. Cultivate the Ability to Tolerate Small Mistakes.

Entrepreneurship is about trying new things and being able to see a big picture. This will inevitably involve mistakes and some details falling through the cracks. You'll need to be able to react to small mistakes without becoming excessively self-critical.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/3193782985/ Photopin Cc

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/3193782985/ Photopin Cc
4. Learn to Tolerate Initially Not Being as Good as You'd Like to Be.

Everyone would like immediate success but everyone is a beginner when they start something new. Since it generally takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something, you might not initially perform as well as you’d like at your chosen craft. You’ll need frustration tolerance, psychological flexibility, and grit to get past this stage.
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5. Accept Being Unable to Keep People Happy 100% of the Time.

You can learn to tolerate other people being annoyed or upset by just practicing it. When you practice, your brain will learn that:

(a) sometimes when you expect people to be annoyed or upset, they won't be,

(b) if a minority of people get annoyed or upset it's not generally catastrophic and it's sometimes necessary to make a big leap forward, and

(c) you can cope with your internal reactions to other people's emotions.

Related articles:

7 Success Tips for Introverts

Cognitive Behavioral Skills You'll Need to Beat Anxiety

6 Success Tips for People Who Are Anxious or Sensitive

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You can read my prior articles for Psychology Today here.

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photo credits: Alex E. Proimosmkosutkk+Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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