DON’T BE AFRAID; YOUR TIME IS NOW
Three tips for conquering fear
so you can journey toward greatness
By Reghan Brandt
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the notion of “good” being the enemy of “great.” I’ve heard it before, but this time it hit me hard. I was reflecting on a situation at work that just felt “good enough,” but I knew in my gut that it wasn’t great and that I wanted more for the company.
My life is good; my work is pretty good; my processes are solid and most of my relationships are good, but do I really just want to leave a legacy of “she did a good enough job”? Hell no! I want things to be great!
As I reflected on this, I realized that this isn’t just an issue for me—whether you’re in your first job or running a billion-dollar company, you can get stuck in the status quo and accept good enough too easily. Every day we need to step up to face new challenges, evolve, and get over our fear to challenge what’s good so that we can all have what’s great.
When I say, “get over our fear,” I don’t mean that you should fight it or try to ignore it. What I mean is that you should acknowledge that your brain is telling you not to do something because of some perceived risk, then work through those feelings (or around them) to find out how to overcome them and still make actionable progress.
Every day we need to step up to face new challenges, evolve, and get over our fear
to challenge what’s good so that we can all have what’s great.
I know you’re probably thinking: “But… but… but… what if my life, my career, my company, or my marriage ends up being worse? What if I fail? What if it’s too hard? What if I make the wrong choice? What if I ruin it all?”
Well, those are all fair questions, but I’m not just talking about taking a leap of faith. I’m talking about taking a leap of faith with a plan to make it happen. Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic here, but what if you never take action and end up settling for a life that’s just okay? What if you end up becoming the “good enough” person who does nothing more than survive in their comfort zone? And what if that’s all there is for you?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my own journey—and from watching others go through similar changes—it’s that the biggest risks are often the most rewarding ones. Sure, it can be scary to pursue greatness—but it’s even scarier to stay where you are.
Here are three things that helped me overcome fear and get started on a journey toward greatness:
- Take action. First things first—get started. Just do something. You don’t have to take huge steps at first. Just start small and work toward the outcome you see as great. We’ve all heard the saying “in-action is a choice.” And it’s true: When you’re paralyzed by indecision, you’re making a decision too— and often doing nothing is the worst decision.
I founded Columbia Pacific Finance (CPF), an insurance premium finance company, in 2008 and have been working with commercial producers ever since. During this time, I’ve seen thousands of agents struggling with loss runs, so I decided to do something about it. I had no business getting into technology, but I figured if I was willing to put in the hard work and commit myself to solving this pain point, there was no reason why I couldn’t figure it out along the way. In early 2020, a year after starting LRP, The Loss Run Pros, I applied for BrokerTech Ventures’ (BTV) cohort. BTV is a group of top agents in the United States who formed a venture capital group to support broker technology. I got selected to pitch at their “shark tank” day. I knew flying out to the event that I wasn’t as far developed as some of the reps from the other groups and that I didn’t know as much about technology as everyone else there, but I believed in taking action and that I could make LRP a household name for agents. Fortunately for me, Brian Hetherington, chairman of World-wide Broker Network, and many other C-suite members within BTV believed in me and my ability to get over my fear and deliver. Fast forward to today and we have over 2,300 retail agents on the platform, and every day I am working on action items to improve the business technology, my team, and the business value proposition.
- Seek out and find mentors. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Mentors are one of the most valuable resources you can find. I’m a huge believer in learning from people who have way more experience than me.
Why? Because I can’t see the future, and because I don’t know everything.
When I started CPF, I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to surround myself with people who had already been there and done that—people who could give me advice based on their own experience and were willing to invest time with me.
I’m fortunate to have a lot of mentors, but there’s one in particular who has played an important role in my career: my uncle Mike Mansfield. Mike is an incredibly talented risk taker and entrepreneur. He’s a CPA by trade who lives in Seattle, Washington, where he became a tax partner at Moss Adams. Now, when you become a partner at most firms, you’ve made it and can enjoy the benefits of all your hard work. But not for him! After he became a partner, he left the firm to start his own entrepreneurial journey, where he invested his time for ownership interests in many businesses in numerous trades (construction, hospitality, finance, banking, etc.).
I was able to bring Mike in as an investor at CPF and LRP. He has always been my sounding board—my cheerleader—someone who will listen to me rant when I’m frustrated or ready to throw in the towel because someone caused my blood to boil. He always listens and leaves me with pearls of wisdom: “Does your blood boil too easily?”, which is almost always the case when I re-focus my perspective and priorities.
Having Mike as a mentor has helped me stay focused with an action plan. If you do not have your own “Mike,” I recommend you spend some time thinking about:
- What kind of person do you want to be mentored by? Do they have an entrepreneurial spirit? Are they open-minded? Do they live by a certain set of values that resonate with yours? Make sure you choose someone whose personality type fits with yours so that your relationship can flourish over time.
- Be proactive about reaching out to potential mentors. If someone is highly recommended by others in your circle, reach out. If there aren’t many names that come up when thinking about who would make the best mentor for you, ask around and see if there’s anyone who might be interested in becoming your mentor—it never hurts to ask.
- Make sure that the person you choose is someone who values transparency over secrecy; otherwise, it will be difficult for them to give helpful advice if they don’t know all the details about what’s going on in your business/life.
- Be respectful and grateful for their time. They are busy and could be doing other things with their time but are investing in you.
- Follow your intuition. Here’s a fun fact: It’s actually easier to follow your intuition than it is to go against it.
Your intuition is a powerful force that can guide you through life and help you achieve success. It’s the voice that tells you what to do, how to do it, and why it’s important. But sometimes we go against our intuition because we’re afraid: afraid of failing, afraid of being judged by others, or afraid of what might happen if we act on our gut instinct instead of following someone else’s plan.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If we allow ourselves to listen to our gut instinct and act on it, we can achieve amazing things—and have fun doing them!
This one is much easier to say than do. There have been numerous hires, developments, and choices I have made while ignoring that little voice in the back of my head because someone else made me second guess my “gut.” I don’t look at those as setbacks, but as reminders to try and trust my intuition more.
Fear is a funny thing, isn’t it? It can keep you from doing the things you love, or it can prevent you from starting the things you want to do. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of getting started—it comes in many shapes and sizes.
We sit around waiting for the perfect time to start, but news flash: There is no better time than now. I mean, right now, as you’re reading this, the perfect time has already passed.
But getting started isn’t always easy. There are so many reasons to wait: You’re not sure what you want to do yet, you’re afraid your boss will not approve, you’re scared to shake up the current status or even afraid how you’ll make it happen or if it will work out anyway. But here’s the thing: Life always goes on.
We can’t always wait for everything to be perfect, but we can all try and promise to not settle for good and demand greatness.
Reghan Brandt is founder and CEO of LRP, The Loss Run Pros; co-founder and president of Columbia Pacific Finance (CPF); and host of The Insurance Chatter podcast, a show that discusses market trends, insurtech tools and recruiting in the industry.