The older I get, the more I’m convinced that most of what stands in the way of big change or great work is fear. You can track back almost all small thinking to being afraid of something — failure, rejection, ostracism, you name it.
As a perfectionist, I have to wrestle down a fear of failure on a daily basis. Apparently, I’m in good company, as Jean Case noted:
Sometimes, it feels like philanthropic and social good efforts are held to a different standard. Since we are dealing with people and not products, all too often there is less tolerance for mistakes, which leads many organizations to become risk-averse. And when mistakes are made, the tendency is to hide them like “that” distant cousin we all have that no one talks about — thus depriving the sector of important lessons learned. In reality, the very nature of innovation requires that we try new things and take risks — because no matter the outcome, we can learn from our experiences and strive to do even better in the future.
To face my own fear, I’ve always liked this question:
Yesterday, I went to the Case Foundation’s 15th anniversary event, when they unveiled a campaign called Be Fearless. It was inspiring to hear what they feel is required to overcome fear, take risks, act boldly and fail forward. I share with you here the five ways they defined being fearless. I think we need them. Given our missions, small thinking will never, ever get us where we need to go.
1) Make Big Bets and Make History. Set audacious, not incremental, goals.
2) Experiment Early and Often. Don’t be afraid to go first.
3) Make Failure Matter. Failure teaches. Learn from it.
4) Reach Beyond Your Bubble. It’s comfortable to go it alone. But innovation happens at intersections.
5) Let Urgency Conquer Fear. Don’t overthink and overanalyze. Do.
For more, check out their site. And try to go big or go home.