Has the FEAR got me?

Or have I got the FEAR?


What do you fear?

It seems a simple question, and many people have instant answers. I’m scared of spiders, I’m scared of sharks, I’m scared of heights.

But the height is not what you’re scared of, the falling from that height is what you are likely scared of.

What is my fear?

My fear is failing. I worry that I am not good enough and not able to do what is needed. Many people label this Imposter Syndrome, and there are many ways to counteract it. Or it could be a fear of embarrassing myself. One of my favourite quotes on embarrassment comes from a mentor of mine, Andrew Missingham (he was literally my mentor when I was at University). Andrew is the co-founder of the fantastically creative management consultancy BandAequals. They love to play almost as much as us. In reference to embarrassment Andrew simply says “Embarrassment is a wasteful emotion.” I often bring these words to mind when I am about to do something I feel the fear from.

Fantastic Expectations, Amazing Revelations

Ian Brown – F.E.A.R – Music of the Spheres

In his book Feck Perfuction – Dangerous Ideas on The Business of Life, James Victore writes about fear. He says to make fear your BFF. This is a good thing to do, especially as our biggest fears, fear of failure and imposter syndrome, are with us for life. The trick is to not let the fear get us. We should have the fear, but not allow it to have us.

You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.

Brené Brown – Professor, Lecturer, Author, and Podcast Host

What is stopping me?

I love the work of Brené Brown, who wrote the book Daring Greatly. Her quote above echoes Andrew Missingham somewhat. If we treat embarrassment as a wasteful emotion and dare greatly to own our story, we can achieve our goals.

Centuries ago, mapmakers labelled their work “Here be Dragons“. Well, that isn’t actually true. There are no maps with “here be dragons” written on them, nor “Hic Sunt Dracones“. There is however, a globe from 1510 with those words on. The Hunt-Lenox globe contains these words.

But, why?

Perhaps we will never know for sure. The fact that it appears on this globe and other similar warnings of monstrous beasts appear on other maps, such as the Ebstorf Map, can point towards one thing. We, as a species, have always been afraid of what we do not know. This might be an assumption, but it fits well with our modern day fears. Our ignorance of the areas marked on the maps caused us to assume they were dangerous. For all we knew at the time, this area was packed with monsters.

It is our own anxiety we are afraid of. We don’t know what is likely to happen, so we might as well label it “Here be dragons“.

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Franklin D Roosevelt – 32nd president of the United States

Feel the fear and do it anyway

There is a little known fact, well it is not really little known, we just act like we don’t know it. Those overnight successes, those instantly brilliant people have many failures that lead to their success. It is rare for anyone to find instant success. Remember the quote from Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Embrace the ability to fail without giving up and you too can be successful.

The art of failing well

To fail well, we must learn something.

  • Encourage criticism – Seek our criticism, including your own, but approach it philosophically rather than emotionally. This is a discipline worth developing. Within organisations, this helps stop dogmatic behaviour and ideologies taking hold.
  • Embrace a growth mindset – Carol Dweck has published a marvellous book on this subject. A growth mindset puts us into a mode of operating where we are constantly learning and honing our skills, ideas and beliefs. We can constantly question and improve. This works on large scales with organisations and personally.
  • Redefine failure – If we begin to look at failure as a point on the route to success, then we can redefine what failure is. This is done by praising the resilience of the individual or team in sticking to the task, pointing out the advantage of acquiring the new knowledge we have gained through the failure, and assessing new data obtained.
  • Pilot projects with veracity – When projects are piloted, it is a temptation to pilot under perfect conditions. This is a mistake, as we need to learn more about what could go wrong to avoid more costly problems further along. We need to make it common practice to pilot in normal or even worst case scenarios.

For everything a reason

Right at the beginning of this article, we quoted the song F.E.A.R by Ian Brown. I love the song because of the Acrostic approach to the songwriting. Each line is four words with the initial letter of each word spelling FEAR. But the majority of the lines in the song are positive in spirit. The song starts with the line “For Each A Road“, which signifies a unique journey into our fear. The last line before the coda is “Finding everything and realizing – You’ve got the FEAR“. Once you have the fear, it no longer has you.

Once we have mastered our fear, we can realise our Fantastic Expectations and learn Amazing Revelations.

Freeing Excellence Affects Reality

Ian Brown – F.E.A.R – Music of the Spheres

Get in touch with us and we can co-create new strategies that can help your organisation and teams be ready for whatever comes around the corner. Let’s play!

By: Mart Gordon

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