In my blog post, 10 Things We Should All Do More of In 2017, I wrote about good reasons to feel the fear and do something anyway. Without a doubt, the most game changing (in a positive way!) moments of my career to date have been when I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and done something outside of the norm. If you want to deliver something remarkable, you need be prepared to do something remarkable to get there.
The problem is, knowing we should do something isn’t the same as actually feeling able to take that step to do it. Stepping outside of our safe, day to day roles and responsibilities is more than a little unnerving, and the barriers that we perceive to be in our way may seem insurmountable.
So how do we do it? How do we face that fear head on and tackle it in pursuit of something amazing? When it comes down to it, it’s actually surprisingly simple…
Focus on the opportunity
If you’re feeling the fear to the extent that it’s preventing you from moving forwards, it’s likely that you’re focused on the barriers in the way of your success, rather than the opportunities which taking that leap of faith could bring you. Take a few moments in your head to play out the movie to the end. If you continuously keep your eye on the end goal, you are a) more likely to get there, and b) less likely to be thrown off course by any obstacles which you may come up against on the way.
Ask yourself what you’re afraid of
For most of us, the greatest fear we have when stepping outside into the unknown is our fear of failure. So tackle this head on. Let’s imagine that you do fail. So what? What are the consequences of you failing? In a small number of instances, the potential consequences of failure might be so great that actually, you’re correct – right now is not the time to take that risk. But these instances are the minority. Far more likely is that, if you fail, all that happens is that you need to try again, or take a slightly different approach.
Sit down with your line manager or a trusted colleague. Use them to help you rationalise your fear of failure. Is it justified? If you fail, does it actually matter? Can you use the learnings from an initial failure to actually achieve a better overall outcome? We have a tendency to build the thought of failure up in our head as the absolute worst thing that can happen. In fact, failing and learning to fail is a vital part of achieving success, as summed up in this quote from the author JK Rowling:
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success.”
It’s a cliché, but it’s a good one. If we’ve assessed the opportunity, and we’ve planned for the fact that we may need to fail somewhere along the way if we’re going to achieve our goal… then, ultimately, we need to bite the bullet and JFDI.
Breaking the mould is never usually a comfortable experience, but looking back, having broken the mould and being able to see what we’ve achieved as a result, is going to lead to some of your greatest career highs. Make this year the year that you feel that fear… and do it anyway. As this quote from another well-known author, John Green, spells out:
“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”