Last week I participated in a panel discussion about the benefits of ABLE accounts at the 2022 No Barriers Summit.
According to No Barriers USA, “THE NO BARRIERS SUMMIT BRINGS TOGETHER PEOPLE OF ALL ABILITIES TO BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS. PARTICIPANTS CONNECT FOR SHARED EXPERIENCES OF OUTDOOR ADVENTURE, ENTERTAINMENT, AND INSPIRATION, WHILE JOINING TOGETHER TO CREATE COLLECTIVE IMPACT.” Click here to learn more about No Barriers USA and The No Barriers Summit.
While I was there, I was able to participate in several challenging activities such as rock climbing and archery. The best part, though, was celebrating with each other as we reached the top of the wall or honed in on the bullseye.
I think the rock wall is also a very appropriate metaphor for how we’re building Penny Forward. When I started Penny Forward in 2020, I took a few very tentative steps not really knowing where I’d go next. Similarly, as I stepped onto the first foothold on the rock wall, I wasn’t sure where the next one could be found. In both cases, my belief that I could find the next toehold, and a strong team of supporters, kept me going until I did.
A lot can go wrong when you’re starting a business or climbing a wall, though, and it’s easy to get stuck because you’re afraid.
Fear is a mechanism in the most primitive part of our brains that keeps us safe by telling us when to fight, when to run, and when to hide. The problem with fear, though, is that it’s often wrong if we act on it too quickly. Here are some ways to face your fear and use it to succeed.
Tell someone about it.
When you’re afraid, take some time to talk to someone who will encourage you. Tell them how you feel and what you’re afraid of. Try to be specific, but don’t worry if you can’t. It’s not always easy to name our fears. Still, talking with someone will help take the edge off so you can take the next step, and they’ll have ideas that could be just what you need to succeed.
Plan The First Few Steps
Fear can help us to identify some of the things that might go wrong. Some of those things are very likely, while others may never happen outside of your imagination. Planning can help, but overplanning can get you stuck again. Try planning the first three or four steps, then plan to make another plan. When climbing the wall, I was easily able to feel the hand and footholds within the first seven feet from the ground. Taking those first few steps let me reach higher on the wall, making it possible for me to find more hand and footholds.
Build A Team
No Barriers taught me that climbers don’t climb alone. Their rope team helps them stay safe by helping them to identify safe paths and protecting them from falls. As I began building Penny Forward, I found myself building my own rope team to help me.They’re climbing with me because we all believe that blind people must be included when building financial wellness education programs. Click here to learn about them.
Learn As You Go
When I started Penny Forward I started doing what I knew how to do and learned new things as I needed them. I knew how to build a basic web site, so I did. I didn’t know how to maintain the books for a business, so I, and Penny Forward treasurer Eric Yarberry, struggled with that until we found a system that works for us. You don’t need to do everything yourself, though, but you’ll be proud of yourself when you learn new skills and your team will be proud of you too.
Be Willing To Change Direction But Don’t Turn Around
When you hit a roadblock, you can either go around it or turn back. Days before Penny Forward launched its first online course in March, 2022, we discovered that the course software we’d chosen could not create courses that were accessible to screen reader users. Since Penny Forward’s mission is to help blind people navigate the complicated landscape of personal finance through education, mentoring, and mutual support, this was a major roadblock for us and something that kept me awake at night until I found an accessible software package. If you’re like me, roadblocks can seem impossible to overcome in the moment, but if you take some time to find your way around them, you’ll find yourself confidently moving forward and not as afraid of the next thing blocking your path.
One More Thing
It’s easier to take on a challenge for others. Whether you’re climbing a wall, looking for a job, or starting a business, focusing on the people you’ll help by overcoming your challenges is a powerful way of overcoming your fear. You and your rope team are climbing together for a reason, and your dependence on each other keeps all of you safe and successful.