Have you ever had a thought that seemed like a brilliant idea at the moment?
You have seen it all how great it would be if executed, you have felt that rush, excitement, eagerness…
Maybe this brilliant idea (it might be a new project proposal, new idea for process automation, for new initiative about improved customer experience, for meeting opening statement, an inspiring email, speech for interview, new product, blog post, way to say your boss he is an asshole, new business idea, opening space portal to have a coffee with an extraterrestrial or or anything else for that matter) hit you during the night and by the morning you have lost that initial enthusiasm.
Or maybe it was during the shower, when many brilliant ideas hit usually, and by the time you put your body lotion, face mask and dried your hair, the idea seemed a little less exciting.
Or, and we are all guilty of this I am sure, you have even scripted this new idea in your mind or on a paper, and you even had audacity to share it with your hiring manager, or colleague or friend and boom, they told you exactly what you already were suspicious of - The idea is not really doable. You know that - It's a really nice thought, but it is not really applicable, not enough resource, time, experts, machines etc. And, just like that, all that thrill is vanished. Gone.
Let me show you in this post a different approach to your own fears and managing fear of failure that others impose to you, or simple face. If you take time to ready this carefully and adopt this approach, it is going to be your game changer. And, yes, I do love this game changer phrase, and no, as a philologist I don't use buzz words for the sake of usage, I choose them very carefully. So, let's start.
I want you to focus on one particular type of idea you get. Or you might get:
The one that makes you feel like you could scream, sing, cry or die from happiness (whatever your thing is) if it could be executed.
The one that checks - I would do this for free, or what the hell, I would pay to do this - box.
The one that seems impossible.
The one that seems unreachable.
The one you would compare to time and space travel kind of surreal.
The one that even if it could be possible, it would take too much of everything and you would have to give up so much and invest so much and the desired outcome is not even likely to be reached.
The one that is too risky to try.
The one that is labeled as - Yeah, right - kind of language.
Now, when you focus on this idea, let’s imagine that it is possible and achievable and the only thing that you need to invest is your time and energy to educate yourself. Let’s say it is a 6 months or a year period. Would you commit?
This time investment would be for educating yourself on the specific topic, that is relevant for your brilliant idea. Why and how is this related to fear of failure? Keep reading, I will explain it soon.
You see, I asked you would you commit yourself to education because what you need first is the will to do it. And,the funny thing is that this is the only thing that you need because willingness to do achieve something beats all odds and even beats belief (which is a really, really great new because core limiting beliefs we have are such true Dennis the Menace). Yes, I am telling you exactly that, you don’t have to wait to change your core belief that your brilliant idea is impossible to achieve, I am telling that you need a will. .You need is decision, willingness to do it.
Napoleon Hill wrote for a good reason:
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.
And I want you to pay close attention here. Whatever the mind can conceive and believe - let’s focus on the conceiving part first. You see, I have experienced and witnessed over and over again this - if you could conceive this idea, all you need is the willingness to act on it. Because your mind will believe whatever you tell it. It doesn't know the difference.
Now, let’s focus on the believing part for a second. Napoleon Hill also said:
We refuse to believe that which we don’t understand -
And I agree with that as well. And this is exactly what this blog post is about. Because this is the exact reason why your hiring manager, colleagues, potential investors, business partners, friends, and what is the most devastating - the reason why you don’t believe that your idea is impossible to execute. Because of lack of understanding. Your manager, friend or yourself - are missing knowledge. And this is the root of fear of failure.
I love what Plato said:
Knowledge is the food of the soul.
Yes, it truly is, just remember how fast all the enthusiasm, thrill, excitement can be gone. On the first sign of doubt and this is the place where fear lives.
Fear is one of the most fascinating emotions to me. It is so unpleasant and so useful at the same time. When it comes to big ideas - fear is a sign of your growth if you know to recognize this. And also, it is a kind of feedback because it tells you exactly how much inner work you have to do. You know what is said about goals - if they don’t scare you, they are not big enough.
And, here is the point, think about how you conquered any of your previous fears. Well, simply by learning. If you were afraid of failure when you first entered the ocean, when you started to learn swimming, the fear started to weaken, when your body started to understand that with certain moves it could be safe on the surface and actually enjoying it, the fear was gone.
For your brilliant idea this means that if you take time to learn, study and understand certain processes, topics, concepts, it is going to decrease fear lever and increase faith level. The higher your faith level is, the closer to your big vision are.
Now, what does this mean for your leadership?
It means that if you understand this, you just changed the game. You have just up-leveled right this second.
First, with this understanding you know that every single action on every single idea that is uncomfortable is practice. If you have an idea for a new approach in a team organization and you know that stakeholders are not going to be impressed - remember this - they lack knowledge and understanding. So, you approach this like it’s an experiment. Go and search for information, experience or package that could convince them to believe you and give you green light.
You know, I have been frustrated so many times when my idea would not be adopted and I felt even bitterness because I am in an environment that has no capacity or bigger vision to understand concepts that I propose. Until I educated myself more about human behavior and until I understood that fear is behind those decisions. Fear that this idea is not going to work and that it would not be justified as an expense. Then I started approaching things differently.
I was playing archaeologist, detective in search for information, studies, language, whatever it could use me more to back up my pitch. I would be curious, not frustrated, I would be eager to learn more so I can share more instead of being biter.
I approached every situation as a practice, as a challenge that serves me to stretch my flexibility, curiosity, and resourcefulness muscle. The thing is, the more you practice to take action on every single inspiring idea you get, no matter how minor or strange it seems and no matter how uncomfortable it feels, the faster it will become your new habit.
And, if you have a habit of taking action on things that you are afraid of… Can you imagine how much easier it will be to take actions on ideas that your mind conceives?
So, the secret is to detach from a specific outcome, and to make a habit from it. If you have an idea for the email in which you ask for a raise, take action. Write it, press send. It doesn’t matter, you have a bigger goal, bigger vision. Remember? That brilliant idea of yours. Keep this in mind. Write it on your mirror, put it to your phone screen or set it as a reminder.
And, what is so magnificent in this is that you will inevitably get so much more, not that you are going to decrease your fear level and stretch your courage muscle, you are going to get that raise, or project, or additional budget for a new team member. And, you will get exactly what you need and what is aligned to your grand vision, to your brilliant idea.
Second thing you get as a leader from this is that if you understand this, you will directly empower your team to do the same. You will lead by example and you will be an inspiration to others. And can you imagine how this will improve overall performance?
Talk to your team about fear. Explain how the mind works, how fear works and explain to them that they have a choice. Choice to educate themselves. Even on this topic. Plato also said that - The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.
Third, as a leader, with this understanding you will be able to influence everyone in your environment, not only your team or people you work with, you will be able to spread the word about the importance of studying and education.
And, when I say studying, I don't mean on academic scripts, I mean on the actual meaning of the Latin word - to devote, to pursue with eagerness, enthusiasm, spirit.
Which brings me to the one important aspect that Aristotle explained as:
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
And I will finish with this notion, focusing only on cognitive aspects is not going to take you far, as a true leader, you must pursue understanding of parts that make us human. After all, this post was all about it, about understanding this fascinating emotion, fear and the role it has. The more you understand the fear and how it governs your behavior, the more you understand yourself and others. The better and influential leader you become. And you do want to be that leader who utilizes knowledge for the greater good, right?
PS Remember the question I asked you, would you commit and educate yourself for the period of 6 months, or a year. How about your whole life? How big your vision is? To me, learning is like breathing and if you have a will to learn more about leadership from me, I am an email away.
Your Leadership Mentor,
Leadership is a lifestyle, not a job title.