First a quote: “There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho
Fear is a very powerful emotion, and certainly serves a purpose in our preservation and safety, both physical and emotional. Teaching young children to fear strangers, speeding cars and open water is very important. Teaching employees about the physical dangers involved with the equipment they operate is critical. A healthy fear and respect of real danger is important to all of us and the life we desire to live. And yet, we all know people who struggle with all kinds of debilitating fear, both rationale and irrational, real and imagined.
I’m not trained, or educated, as a professional psychologist and in no way present myself as an expert on this topic. I have however, made a few observations about human behavior when helping leaders, teams and organizations cope with significant change. See if the following matches your experience and observations.
My first observation is that, as humans, we tend to magnify, and/or exaggerate, a multitude of negative outcomes when considering the pursuit of a dream. We take what might be possible negative outcomes and blow them out of proportion, in both size and quantity.
And, to make this phenomenon even worse, at the same time we exaggerate possible negatives, we also tend to minimize the probable positives just waiting to be uncovered and explored. We completely miss, or downplay, all that we will discover, learn, do and see in the pursuit of our dreams or significant change.
As we weigh the pluses and minuses of a decision to pursue our dreams, we convince ourselves we have made logical, rational and objective decisions. In truth, our emotions play a larger role than most of us care to admit, even to ourselves. Our brain, specifically the amygdala, is screaming danger, danger, danger, even if only imagined in the mind’s eye.
Michael Jordon, once said, “Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.”
I’m also not convinced it is only the “fear of failure” which prevents many of us from pursuing our dreams… I suspect for some of us, it may also be the “fear of success” … but that is for another missive on another Monday.
Now is the time to write the first chapter of that book you have intended to write, to pursue that advanced degree, to start that exercise program or, whatever your dream might be. See it. Believe it. Do it. Now is the time!
Your “leadership development assignment” for this week is to ponder one question: “What is one thing you have been afraid to try, or start in the past, that you could begin to explore this week?”
Like dipping your toe in the water of a pool, even a few small steps into the unknown can help you build more courage than you had last week. Give it a try. This might be the week to launch a dream that has been dormant for too long. Go for it!
How will you lead differently, or better, this week?
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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