The single biggest barrier to personal or professional growth is fear.
Sounds strange but if you stopped to think about it, you would soon realise that it wasn’t that you didn’t know how to do something that prevented you from trying something new or that didn’t know anyone at a networking event that you then decided not to attend, but more the fear of failing at a task or fear of not connecting with someone.
We have all experienced failure at some point and it generally doesn’t feel good. The advent of mental health challenges, that seem far more prevalent now, can be directly linked to how we feel and how we fail.
Social media has changed how we engage and interact with one another, with this frenzied focus on being liked or getting shares and suffering from anxiety when we don’t. For me it is anything but social. Unsocial media would be more appropriate. This age of living so publicly has made us even more conscientious of ourselves and amplifying the effects of failing. If someone tripped over, the people around them would probably chuckle and that would be it. Now it is captured and shared forever, reminding and reinforcing the negative feeling of this trivial fail in perpetuity.
There are a number of schools of thought that now encourage failure, as it is perceived as a route to success, and without it you will never succeed. However, I do not share this view as if you setout at the start to fail, the likelihood is you will never succeed. For me the most important aspect is having a goal, having a plan to achieve that goal and then being single-mindedly focused on realising that goal. Desire, Direction and Discipline are part of the “Power of 3” methodology I have developed. Of course you may need to try different approaches to eventually realising success, but this should be seen as learning. When Thomas Edison was told he had 999 failures before he eventually created the lightbulb he responded “I learned 999 ways of not creating a light bulb, but I then realised the one way to do so”.
How we approach and address failure is the be all and end all of success, especially as the fear of failure prevents us from even starting a task. The average time we will start something new before giving up is less than .2%, we simply give-up even before trying!
So what can we do to start addressing our fear? Especially when what we fear hardly ever materialises and we make the fear worse by constantly thinking about it. Keeping a fear list, writing down the things we fear is a great way of starting to tackle this issue. Alongside each fear write down what is the worst that could happen and then next to that what you can do to overcome this. Before you know it you will realise it isn’t a big deal and certainly something that can be easily overcome. Let’s make fear a thing of the past and fearless something we aspire to. It is when we get out of our comfort zone that we truly start to prosper.
Livelong and Fearless!
Ammar Mirza CBE is the founder and chairman of Asian Business Connexions, Board member of North East LEP and holds various other positions across the private, public and third sectors.