President’s Message: Tame the Fear of No

© Tim Kelly and Kyla Renee Paintings

Often, fear becomes an obstacle to achieving our dreams or goals in life. Would you rather sharpen your camera skills or maybe pore over hours of retouching videos than have a real life conversation with a client? In the sales room, are you more of an order taker than a strategic consultant with a well-crafted plan to recommend products that will solve your clients’ problems? If you answered yes to either question you are not alone. If you’re like me, you fear the no. Over the years I’ve cultivated some tools to help mitigate this discomfort.

I’ve struggled with fear my entire working life, starting as a young boy delivering papers in my neighborhood. Every day I would receive a large stack of papers from the newspaper office in town. The process of folding each paper with great precision for maximum throw control was my game. I perfected the flight path of my toss to land papers on customers’ doorsteps from 100 feet away. I calculated speed and efficiency on my bike and used balanced weight estimations as I removed each paper from my saddle bag.

Then came the dreadful weekend; time to collect subscription money. Walking up to each door asking the homeowner for money was terrifying. Sometimes I’d see a curtain pull back and no one would answer—cue the pit in my stomach. I found myself collecting just enough money to cover my paper costs and to fill a jar toward buying a new camera. This was not a great business model for attracting new clients, building relationships, or regulating cashflow.

A few years later I was working for a local photographer covering weddings on the weekend and working in the camera store during the week. To my surprise, his business model was not functioning well, and he handed over the remaining weddings on the books to me. Instantly my 19-year-old self was in business without a plan and struggling with the fear of failing.

It wasn’t long before Lesa and I were married, and moving the business out of our home became a priority. I needed a bank loan to make this dream possible. Lesa ran across the perfect book, “The Theory of 21: Finding the Power to Succeed” by Chuck Reaves. Reading it was a game changer, helping me to release my fear of rejection. In his book, Reaves gives us permission to accept the no. According to Reaves, “There are 20 people who will say no for every person who says yes. The secret to success in business is finding the 21st person, the individual who is open to ideas and innovation and who makes abstract ideas become reality.”

This perspective bolstered me as I heard rejection after rejection from bank after bank. Not only were these bankers rejecting me for a loan, but they were advising me to give up on my dream. However, because of this newfound theory of 21, I believed there was a yes around the corner. Eventually a small community bank took a chance and issued me the loan. This is one example of many where I employed Reaves’ principle to push away the fear of no.

Another valuable resource on this topic that I recently discovered is the book “Go for No!” by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz. Their website provides tools for dealing with self-imposed limitations. They discuss topics like eliminating fear, building confidence, reducing stress, and having more fun. We have implemented many of their concepts in our business, which have helped us tremendously.

Assess your behaviors and emotions. Are you like me in avoiding things in your business that could lead to rejection? Mastering the skill of pushing through the no response will help you power through your fear and find success.