FEAR. Nasty stuff happens when I let it into my head. I start going down a negative road littered with potholes the size of Hummers. As the calendar flips closer and closer to my planned launch date for my first software product, I get increasingly nervous that my release will be as successful as setting sail in a ship made of bowling balls.
There’s no logic behind this thought process and certainly no evidence to support my fear, but I’m drowning in it anyway. I get buoyed up when I read about software success stories like Delicious Library but then immediately sink thinking my product is just not as sexy. That sends me to that bad place where passionate people get tangled in murky waters of seaweed and are never heard from again. It’s not happening all the time, just during occasional moments of panic.
I’ll try to explain the feeling. It’s like that growing anxiety you feel when you’re driving down the highway looking for a rest stop and you finally spot one. As you drive down the exit, the pain in your bladder jumps up a notch. Then as you are walking towards the bathroom you’re thinking, “Boy I’m here just in time” only to be frozen in your tracks by the RESTROOM CLOSED FOR CLEANING sign. Now you’re left frantically searching for a thicket of trees wishing you hadn’t seen this rest area because the problem wasn’t this urgent yet on the highway. It’s the anticipation of the release that makes your body tense up.
The trick, for me, is to not think about the potential problems and instead keep focused on what is real. I can imagine all sorts of disastrous results, freak out and drop what I’m doing right now because I think I’m the Amazing Kreskin and know the future. Frankly, I don’t know what will happen when I open my virtual doors for business. I do know that if I quit now, I will have failed. There’s a famous quote from Wayne Gretsky where he says, “I make about 30 percent of the shots I take on goal, but I miss 100 percent of the shots I don’t take.“
Yes, I am trying to talk myself out of wetting my pants!
As I said, there’s no good reason for my fear of failing. This can only be better than my current job (a middle management paper pusher). The worst thing that can happen is that not enough people buy my first product and I have to stay doing what I’m doing for a while longer until I build more marketable software. It’s not that bad. It’s only been the last couple of years that the pressure to get off this road has intensifying. It’s not painful enough that I can’t go a few more exits.
Except–I have spotted a rest stop and it looks pretty good to me. I’m all ready to go; and if denied, my fear is that I won’t make it back on the highway.
The reality today is that I have created software in the past that people have loved. There’s no reason why this story won’t have a happy ending. Any worries or fears are based on an imaginary sign denying my success. I need to enjoy the ride and deal with what’s real.