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Recently, an interviewer asked me what my greatest fears were. I said I didn’t have any. He seemed surprised, but this is how I see it: If you label something as a fear, then it creates fear when sometimes it’s not a fear, but a concern. For example, I know just as well as everyone else that New York City experienced a major terrorist attack, and the thought of that is a concern for all of us because it affects all of us. It’s happened in many places, so it’s a worldwide concern. But if we let it become a firmly rooted fear, the terrorists will have won.
The same applies to business. Do you fear owning a business? Translate that for yourself as asking: Are you concerned about owning a business yourself? Why? What specifically are those concerns? It’s much easier to break down a concern than it is a fear. Fear creates a block that will only hinder your creative thinking. Objectivity will remove that block and allow for creative ideas to flow.
An antidote to fear is as simple as problem solving. Whether you have investing, estate planning, or running a business on your mind, or all of those things, they can be broken down into units of thought and dealt with in an orderly manner. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle—you need to find the right place for each piece of the puzzle until the whole is apparent.
“To ask the right questions is already half the solution of a problem.” —Carl Jung
When I began to construct Trump Tower, for example, I had several things in mind that I knew I wanted. I wanted a certain kind of marble called Breccia Perniche, which was expensive, beautiful and rare. It was also irregular and had white spots and white veins, which bothered me, so I went to the quarry itself and marked off the best slabs with black tape. Action turned this concern into a problem solved. I got exactly the marble pieces I wanted, and sitting around, worrying about whether those pieces would be right or wrong, was getting me nowhere. As a result of deciding to go to the quarry myself, the pieces of this puzzle fell into place and the finished product was perfect.
Know that if you want to own your own business, you will be doing a lot of the work yourself. That’s just the way it is. It isn’t all about giving orders or having other people do the legwork or brainwork for you. That comes into the picture, but you should always be ready to go at it yourself. If that idea bothers you, maybe you’d be better off being an employee. If responsibility comes naturally to you, or if you enjoy that challenge, owning your own business is a good fit.
Fear has a way of making things bigger than they are. There’s an old German proverb to the effect that “fear makes the wolf bigger than he is,” and that is true. But the opposite of fear is faith, which is one reason you’ve got to believe in yourself and see yourself as victorious. You will know you are capable of dealing with any discouragements, bullies or problems along the way.
When I was faced with some huge debts in the early 1990s, it was widely reported that I was finished, done for, gone. Looking at the numbers alone made that seem clear to the media. However, I never believed I was finished. I simply saw that situation as a problem I had to solve and went about doing that. I’m not saying it was easy, because it wasn’t. It was a big problem. But I refused to give in to fear or to believe what was being said about my so-called demise. I came back to become more successful than I ever was, and that’s why I believe business is very much about problem solving. If you can learn to deal with and solve problems, you will have a much bigger margin for success.
Do not allow fear to settle into place in any part of your life. It is a defeating attitude and a negative emotion. Recognize and zap it immediately. Replace it with a problem-solving attitude, faith in yourself and hard work. Put that formula into working order for yourself, and you’ll be dealing from a position of power, not fear. That’s winning.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
That thought by Ralph Waldo Emerson has always been an inspiration to me. It gives me energy to keep going full force because I know I still have a lot to accomplish. No matter what I may have achieved—or plan to achieve—I know it’s “a tiny matter” compared to what I am capable of doing. Think about it: How can we be complacent with that kind of thought pattern going on? It would be impossible!
So give yourself a chance—every single day. Some people really are their own worst enemy. Don’t fall into that abyss—because that’s really what it is. Ever watched children when they are trying something new? They are excited, they are eager and they welcome the challenge. That’s an attitude to recapture or to try to emulate. The enthusiasm that discovery provides is a reliable way to make sure that everything you are doing is paving the way toward your current as well as future successes. I received a letter from my kindergarten teacher, and she mentioned that what she remembers most clearly about me is that I never stopped asking questions. I wrote back to her and informed her that some things never change—that I still ask a lot of questions. But I said that it had obviously served me well, and I thanked her, belatedly, for her patience many years ago. Every one of my questions was the beginning of the next one.
So here’s one for you: If you had nothing at all to do, what would you do? And after you did that, what would you do? And after you did that, what would be next on your list? I call that multithinking versus multitasking. Most people have at least a few things they want to do. Sometimes one thing leads to another—that’s a form of discovery. Discovery breeds discovery, as in success breeds success. “Questions” are thoughts with a quest.
Let’s end this with a few good questions: What lies behind you? (What are your life experiences and education up to this point?) What lies before you? (What are your goals, your plans, your aspirations?) What lies within you? (Do you have what it takes to succeed? Do you know the full extent of your abilities yet? Do you know what the future holds for you? Do you know how your dreams will evolve?) Let’s admit it—life is full of mystery. That includes your life, which is no tiny matter. So don’t sell yourself short on something that important. Today is just the beginning.
From the book Think Like a Champion by Donald J. Trump. Excerpted by arrangement with Vanguard Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.
Donald Trump also serves on the board of SUCCESS Foundation.
Read another excerpt from Donald Trump's Think Like a Champion.