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Negative Emotions in Light of Great Traction Can Be Great Sources of Learning

An exec at an early-stage startup recently told me about how several prospects were nearing close… many of them big customers. What is normally good (“great!”) was met with “dread”. Curious, I wanted to know why.

In my experience, when I’m not elated about potential success (or tempered excitement), I feel one of two things: dread or anxiety.
  • Dread is the feeling when I know what’s going to happen. I know the outcome. I feel dread when I know a potential customer will churn after hearing what he’s looking for only for me to know that after a while, the customer will churn. (Or we are shutting down like final days of Body Boss.)
  • Anxiety is what I feel knowing something like the workload coming down the line – managing and doing it all. In this case, I know what’s coming, too, but it’s more around how I feel when I look at the mountain of to-do’s.
In these feelings, I question where they come from. For dread, why are users going to churn? I am dreading a specific call? Why? Is the prospect looking for something we just don’t do? In that case, why are we going down this process?

Anxiety-wise, the questions may include: if you recall the 80/20 rule, what do you think would remove 80% of the anxiety? If the workload is the primary driver of anxiety, how can effort be smoother? Automated?

In any negative emotion, there’s a great opportunity to raise questions that can lead to great answers. You can better understand the why of negativity, what are the causes, and how can we move beyond this.

Take a moment. Process your feelings. Understand what is driving the feelings. Determine what you’re going to do next. 

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