In 25+ years of development and product, the single greatest barrier to success is FEAR. When I watch teams work, people communicate, businesses make decisions, the most common reason that things fail is that so much of the decisions are based in fear.
I see some people cite experience as the reason to follow some course of action but what is experience really? True experience does not come from being successful. A strong characteristic of experience is the ability to reason any situation, making a decision without fear of failure. It is not how long you have been doing something but it more comes down to your ability to measure, assess and adapt in any situation. Knowledge is not experience. Let’s look at that closer, “…a decision without fear of failure.” Notice anything? Does not say that you won’t fail, just that you are not afraid to fail.
In behavioral systems, you will always be aware, even at an unconscious level, that every action has a reaction. What you derive from those reactions is imprinted on you either positively or negatively. Generally, you will do more of what will generate positive results and less of the negative results. It starts at a very young age. As a baby, crying in your bed for attention. If your parents ran quickly to pick you up, you were trained that crying = action. If your parents let you “cry it out”, you were quickly trained that crying didn’t get you what you want so you stopped, unless it was a response to some physical stimuli (diaper, hunger, pain).
So how does fear play a part in your success? If you are afraid of failure, you take less risks, don’t play the statistics and generally make smaller moves to protect yourself. Playing it safe is easy. Fear controls every aspect of our lives. It is a primal function. We want to protect our life, our possessions and our feelings. Think about playing the stock market.
If you are afraid of failure, you take less risks, don’t play the statistics and generally make smaller moves to protect yourself.
Would you take one-thousand (1000) dollars and bet on a stock that is one dollar in the hopes it goes up? Fear guides all your decisions and the more experience you have the more experience (inputs) you have into making that decision. More data equals less fear because it is all about your confidence level. Confidence in your ability to predict the outcome of a situation can affect how much fear you have. Makes sense that scared people don’t make bold moves.
When in doubt, revert back to a simpler time and listen to Dr. Suess.
Why do so many successful people read? Because reading allows you to absorb other people’s experience and gives you an advantage in a situation. What to do or what not to do. If you are trying to lessen the fear in your home or work life, it is vastly more important to understand the failures than successes. Some people get lucky and make good decisions early on, but those stories are rare.
Ask yourself, are you learning from your mistakes? Are you able to change the outcomes if presented with the same scenario? THAT is experience. I boil every situation down to it’s most basic components, ask the right questions to remove doubt, add logic and then reason out the most probable outcome. People are people and given the same scenarios, behaviorally the same actions will be taken. This same mindset presents itself everywhere. In sports, work and personal life, the amount of fear will control every decision a person makes.
People are people and given the same scenarios, behaviorally the same actions will be taken.
Who are you?
Success is a mindset. If you want to be successful you can be. Reduce your fear by educating yourself and learning from mistakes. Your potential is guided by your ability to take calculated risks and apply that to the same situations over and over. If you are afraid, that fear will prevent you from achieving your goals. Align yourself with people who can teach you to adapt and learn who you are. Break down those walls of fear and “allow yourself to touch the hot stove”. Make mistakes, accept the results and get better with every passing day. Before you know it, the potential that is inside you will show and you will grow much more than you can imagine.