One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
– Henry Ford
The cover of the March 2016 issue of Entrepreneur magazine is aptly titled “The Leadership Issue – Be Fearless Without Being Scared – Plus 22 Other Must Have Leadership Qualities.”
23 total qualities seems like it might be 22 too many and it’s quite a long list to manage as a leader.
Especially, if you are a new leader.
So, we thought we’d take a shot and share the single one thing we’ve learned that might help you get closer to mastery of the other 22 qualities in the list.
This post is longer than our average, and will wind a bit, but were hopeful that the dots will connect and the narrative is helpful to you.
Since our last post, we’ve been getting our hands dirty and swimming in the deep end of the pool with our clients.
Educating, work-shopping, innovating, prototyping, concept-writing, pipeline-building, rapid-cycling, experimenting, market-researching, provisional patenting.
We’ve designed and delivered experiential exercises and given programs designed to push past major organizational challenges.
Very impactful and fun stuff.
We like it that way and wouldn’t change a bit of it.
Through all of it, there is a single word that describes the most common challenge we see.
We’ve been with clients in Executive, Mid-Level Manager and individual education sessions, coaching with clients, peers and even with close colleagues going through a transition.
All the while, fear is always top of our minds.
We can feel it with our clients and colleagues and we are always on guard looking for signs of fear in the organization.
Calling it out, kindly and humbly, when we see it.
Explaining the impact fear can have on the organization, or more importantly the impact on the professional and personal lives of our clients and colleagues.
Pointing out how fear could shut down the growth potential of an opportunity, real time, in the moment at hand.
We’ve had deep, meaningful, and insightful discussions.
Being focused on the fear is a good place to be.
Because as we spend time with fear, we learn more about it.
As we learn more about it, we can understand it better.
As we understand it better, we can more quickly advise alternate courses to pursue.
We have learned some methods, by our own education, and by conducting our own experiments with our many collaboration colleagues.
These experiments have helped us identify these fears in ourselves and have helped us to help others push past fear.
The experiments have caused us to take a pause and reflect.
Reflect on what we have learned about it all.
Academics talk of the four fatal fears. But in our list, their’s a fifth to add.
In our list, it looks like this:
- Fear of Failure – I fear failure; therefore, I need to succeed and will do what it takes.
- Fear of Being Wrong – I fear being wrong; therefore, I must be right, always.
- Fear of Rejection- I fear rejection; therefore, I need to be accepted, or I will reject you.
- Fear of Emotions– I fear being emotionally uncomfortable; therefore, I need to be comfortable. I will tune out, or disrupt if I am uncomfortable.
- Fear of Missing Out – I fear missing out, therefore, I must be engaged in more than I can handle.
We’ve discovered that there is a single activity that can be helpful to find the remedy for understanding more about fear.
Figuring out what you need to learn and reduce fear. How to get smarter-faster.
The image is popular and reads No-Fear.
We’d like to believe that’s true… But, well… it’s not Really.
No-Fear wouldn’t be correct, exactly…
We would say Welcome-Fear.
Welcome it and Just understand why it’s there…Figure out it’s root cause.
Figure out why the fear has shown up.
Since this week marked the first day of spring AND World Poetry Day, there were two poems provided to us recently that helped us to understand fear a little better.
The first poem, shared by a colleague, and written in the 13th Century was very powerful and provided a lot of clarity to us.
In it, the Poem’s author talks about being a human being as similar to being a house. Each day some visitors will come to you. A joy, a disappointment, an anger, a frustration or a fear. Welcome all your guests, each day. Welcome them. Embrace them and always learn from them. As they may be preparing you for something larger and more important.
The second poem came recently via Linked-In from Sir Richard Branson’s feed.
In a classic Dr. Suess style, he explains what fear looks like for the entrepreneur. This helps us to understand the challenges and mindset of a serial business builder and someone who has created an culture that is low in fear.
So what’s Our greatest fear?
It’s fear number 5. Fear of Missing Out.
Missing out on a connection.
Missing out on an opportunity to meet and work with some interesting people.
Missing out on enjoying and being in the moment, because we are thinking about something in the future, or hung up on a past experience that we can’t quite let go of just yet…but we know that we should.
Fear of missing out can be positive in that encourages wanting to do great things. It can also be dangerous and a blind spot in that it can become difficult to focus on the critical few priorities.
So, we rely on advisors who are very smart people to help keep us focused and on track.
Why is it important to push past the fear?
It’s important to push past fear, because it’s the only way to grow beyond where you currently are.
Once you figure out the why of your fear, you can use the fear as an positive energy source to counteract and create something amazing.
As we push past our fear of missing out, we can get smarter.
We learn what business relationships and client relationships are best for not only us, but for our colleagues, clients and collaborators.
Does the fear go away. Not really. It does not go away for good. It fades for a while.
But, it can come back and rear-up now and again.
The good news is, we’re just able to recognize it much faster, and once we can recognize it, we can channel it into something that is good and meaningful for all.
We encourage you to experiment with the why of fear.
As Mr. Ford said, you’ll surprise yourself and great things will happen once you do.
If we can help, please reach out.
At The Innovation Garage®…
We help companies become more profitable. We build strategy. We build ideas and coach innovation capability of teams. We design products, services and supply chains. We guide leaders from startup and non-profit to the Global Fortune 500 to intentionally self-disrupt their offerings and companies. We provide world class education, tools and technology on how to craft innovation operating systems focused on long- term profitable growth.
Make Things. Make Things Better. Teach Others.®
Photo Credits: I-Stock Photo & UNDERWOOD ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES