08/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Change The Gears In Your Fears

I was approached recently by a woman anxious to pursue her childhood dream of opening up her own boutique. At 48 and with her kids now out of the house, she sensed that her opportunity had finally arrived but wasn't sure where exactly to begin. She, like most who want to start a business, was feeling very trepidacious about taking those first crucial steps. So, I asked her to fill me in on the whole story of her vision in the hopes of getting a clearer idea of how my experience may help.

As someone who gets asked about this subject often, it came as no surprise to me that her explanation was laden with self-doubt and excuses - not enough time, not enough money, no connections, etc... In fact, she had already set herself up to fail before she we were even two minutes into the conversation. It was at that point I stopped her and began the reprogramming that would be necessary if she was ever going to see her dream through.

"What if you could do it?" I asked. "What if it became the most successful boutique in the area? What if you won awards? What if you could impact the community in ways you never imagined?"

This clearly caught her off-guard but as I continued this line of questioning, I could see her eyes begin to brighten up and a new energy fill her aura. She clearly had never thought this way and was turning a corner from the "focus on the negative and everything that could go wrong" mentality.

Unfortunately this sort of failure mindset is all too common these days. Too many have been programmed to immediately identify why we shouldn't follow our passions instead of first considering all the happiness and vitality that doing so would bring. Overcoming our own limits in thinking and redefining the way we look at success has been the first and most profound step that many of us had had (and will have) to take.

Starting a business is about much more than making a living. It's about pushing yourself to constantly live up to your potential in order to fulfill your creative spirit and personal vision. Of course there will always be external challenges when starting (and maintaining) a business: funding, competition, product development, hiring and so on. But what really matters is whether you believe you have the ability to face and overcome those challenges. Until you can jump over your inner roadblocks, the outer ones will stay firmly in place.

In my journey, my greatest asset has been teaching myself to rethink my fears and doubts by asking two huge questions: "What If?" and "Why Not?"

"What If?" and "Why Not?" are powerful questions in my universe. They empower me by reminding me to embrace the "everything could go right" scenario and to imagine all the great possibilities. When you start asking "What If?" and "Why Not?" you're forced to confront, rethink, and reframe your fears; turning them into potential and then into reality. For example, if you've been feeling intimidated by the idea of all the hard work that goes into starting your own business, ask yourself, "What if working hard and having fun were the same thing?" (That's the wonderful secret of entrepreneurship that no one tells you, by the way: when you're doing something you love, even if you're working longer hours than ever, you'll never get tired because you're doing what you love.)

So, why not add these two simple questions to your inner vernacular?

What if it led you to discover passion and success in not just business but every aspect of your life?