FDR said at his 1932 inauguration, deep in the great depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It’s only natural to feel anxiety, uncertainty, and apprehension when you think of possible negative consequence of any business venture. It’s easy to worry about sales, be concerned over the latest initiative, or freak out over the mounting bills. So why should we chill in the face of these ongoing threats to our security? Survival is the main reason.

A fear consciousness tends to create tunnel vision when we allow our fight-or-flight mechanisms to take over. The clear path to the best solution can be hidden from view when we are blinded by negative emotions. In our desperation to quickly solve a problem and move on, we can easily make wrong decisions. Most of our worst decisions were made in a state of fear.

If you are in business, uncertainties and threats to your success abound. They’re not going away. Downright disasters are to be expected now and then.  Your financial survival will be on the line. Business is always going to be risky and pop-up problems are the norm. The sooner you realize this, the faster you can get on with developing the “bullet-proof” attitude you’ll need to cope, contain, and crush these daily challenges.

  1. Relax. We know it’s hard, especially when you can’t see the solution. But take a deep breath, take a walk, or take a break. Give yourself a chance to calm down. Your brain will work better and you’ll become aware of options you could easily miss when you’re up tight.
  2. Believe. Even though you can’t see the solution yet, believe there is one. In fact, believe there is more than one from which you can choose. That way you will be less likely to jump at the first one you see, which may solve the immediate problem but could cause bigger problems down the line.
  3. Allies. How can you identify your allies? Take a close look at who benefits besides you when the problem is solved. They may be buyers, suppliers, associates, employees, investors, or even competitors. Can you solve their problem while solving your own? Think about how you can enlist their support in solving your problem, and how they will benefit.
  4. Elegance. The elegant solution solves more than one problem. To find the elegant solution, put your other problems out on the table. Examine them all and look for interrelationships. Is there one solution that solves more than one problem? With an open mind free of preconceptions, look for the clues.
  5. Help. Ask for help from folks with more experience, or a different experience, than you own. Ask questions of people who work in various areas of your industry. Ask for help from folks at the highest levels and the lowest levels. Look to other industries, and how they have solved a similar problem. There may be a way that their solution can be useful in solving your problem. Most folks will feel honored that you asked for their advice.
  6. Elevate. The fastest way out of any box is straight up. Look at your problem from all sides, over, under, left and right. In the process ask yourself if you are even framing the problem correctly. Can you redefine the situation? Often the best solution is wrapped in the best statement of the problem.
  7. Patience. It takes time to calm down, assess your options, consider the consequences, and receive good counsel. It takes time to identify strategic allies and gain their support. And it takes time to consider the outcomes and make compromises. Be patient.

Just knowing that you have a systematic process to tackle your daunting business challenges will help give you the attitude of confidence you need. Fear can blind you when you need your vision, focus, and foresight the most.

When we started freaking out over the latest emergency, we all got a laugh when Bonnie screamed, “For God’s sake, DON’T PANIC!

Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders