The Business Wisdom of Carrie Fisher

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Although I’m more of a Trekkie than a Wookie, and was born too late to enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy at cinemas, it’s hard not to have a tinge of sadness around Carrie Fisher’s death.

In the news today, I read Harrison Ford’s obituary of his co-star:

“Carrie was one-of-a-kind … Brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely.”

Fearless and brave…

It’s interesting that others would describe her as fearless and brave, when Carrie Fisher describes herself so differently.

There’s a beautifully honest quote from her 2008 memoirs Wishful Drinking:

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher

Stay afraid, but do it anyway… What’s important is the action… Eventually the confidence will follow.

Marketing typically means standing on the skinny-branches – and putting yourself in a position where failure is not only possible, but commonplace.

Even the most capable marketers experience setbacks and failures. Failure is part of the tweaking process, and tweaking is necessary to get marketing right.

I think we subconsciously realise how likely failure is – and often don’t have the stomach for it.

We fear launching our idea until it’s ready.

We fear picking up the phone to pitch potential clients – even when we know they need what we sell.

We fear making a name for ourselves – fearing that, in the process, we’ll end up with the wrong name.

We fear the consequences of success if it requires us to stand apart from the crowd and act differently.

We fear asking our clients to value our work when it comes time to send an invoice or take the payment.

I’m guilty of being paralysed by these fears at times too. Especially when working solo on my own personal projects.

But all of these are necessary parts of running a successful business. And the only way to enjoy the benefits that having a successful business can bring is to feel the fear and do it anyway.

As for the confidence – Carrie Fisher is right. The confidence doesn’t come until after the success. 

But even then, it’s not an impenetrable armour of confidence.

It’s more like a skin of callouses formed by the painful rubbing of experience. A sort of acceptance where we understand what’s required of us, and we know it’s going to suck at times, but we agree to go on. And each time we make this pact, it gets a little less painful.

I still feel sick every time I have to send a big promo out.

I’ve literally sent billions of promo emails over my career. And I’ve had some incredible successes – with one particular email campaign making $570,000 in sales in 37 minutes.

But even after this kind of success, I’ve still never overcome the fear hitting the send button. I fear making a mistake. I fear the consequences of getting something wrong.

I’m confident that I can handle any situation. That if the campaign is successful, I can make it more successful. Or if it’s a flop, or if there’s a mistake somewhere, I can turn the problem into an opportunity.

But it doesn’t stop that sickening feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach when it comes time to take the leap.

I remember having a conversation with an old client and mentor of mine. He’s one of Australia’s biggest best-selling authors, who went from middle-management to fame, and amassed a multi-million dollar property portfolio, within just a few short years.

That month, he’d hit #1 on the Australian best-seller charts – and had just finished a hugely profitable sell-out seminar tour.

I asked “How’s it feel?”

“It still feels like we’ve snuck behind the velvet rope into the VIP area – and we’re just waiting for someone to come up and say ‘Excuse me, sir – you don’t belong here!’.”

Even after millions in real estate transactions – as Australia’s most respected voice on property investing – the doubts and “imposter syndrome” persisted.

The important thing was that he took action.

That’s why I think there’s so much wisdom in what Carrie Fisher’s wrote in Wishful Drinking:

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

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