Weekly Thoughts


Half Excited, Half Scared

Here is something that caught our eye this week:

Where we come from, nerves are a good thing

The past few weeks have marked a return to schoolelementary, middle, high school, and beyond.  For some, this is welcome news.  For others, particularly those entering a new grade or starting at an entirely new school, the change of scenery can be daunting.  Our daughter described the impending start of kindergarten as “half exciting, half scary.”  We’ve all been there, kiddo.

While the default reaction to this type of comment may be to downplay the idea that something new (like school) is scary, we actually think that being “half excited, half scared” is the perfect combination of emotions when approaching any new endeavor, school or otherwise.

Our previous athletic pursuits taught us that being nervous is a good thing.  It means you care.  We have always understood that nervesproperly managedcan heighten the senses to allow for hyper concentration and superior execution.  To borrow a line from Luke Bryan, where we come from, nerves are a good thing. It’s not just us either.  This line of thinking has some academic merit.  Take, for example, ideas from Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy’s new book, Presence, where she interviewed investors about what types of personal qualities stand out for successful entrepreneurs.  From an Independent article on her book:

“Perhaps the most striking observation she collected was this: ‘I don’t mind if they’re a little bit nervous; they’re doing something big, something that matters to them, so it makes sense they’d be a little bit nervous.’  For one, anxiety can be an adaptive response that keeps us alert to danger and things going wrong.  Sometimes, Cuddy says, nervousness can also signal respect for the person you’re interacting with.  Additionally, ‘some nervousness can even signal passion to others,’ she says. ‘After all, you wouldn’t be nervous if it didn’t matter to you, and you can’t easily persuade an investor or potential client to buy into your idea if it’s not clear that you care deeply about whether or not it succeeds.’”

This runs counter to the prevailing stereotype that successful people are always oozing confidence with a side of bravado.  As Cuddy goes on to argue, nervousness is closely linked to the concept of “presence”, defined as being able to express one’s full potential.  Truly successful people care deeply about what they are doing, so it’s natural to be nervous or scared when approaching a new partnership, asking for an investment, or embarking on a new strategy.  In this context, it would be strange not to be nervousthat might indicate you’ve missed something!

The key is to not let that nervousness run into overdrive to the point that it creates overwhelming paralysis.  That’s why it’s important to stay “half scared, half excited” when approaching any new endeavor.  The scared portion will force you to thoughtfully prepare, and the excited portion will allow you to continue moving forward, whether it’s in kindergarten, small business M&A, or wherever your interests lie.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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