- October 15, 2020
The fear of failure
What would you do if you had no fear? People often fail to go after their dreams for fear of failing. The fear of expectation is the fear that you will blow up resources and make a fool of yourself. But fear sometimes points us towards what is worth it.
Stephen Nachmanovitch writes in his book Free Play, that if we do not make mistakes, we are unlikely to make anything at all. He tells the story of Tom Wattson, who was the head of IBM for many years. One of the lessons drawn from Wattson is that good judgement comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgement.
The fear of success
However, other than the underlying fear of failure, there is also the fear of success. Now let us talk about that.
The fear of success is powerful too. It bites and it can stifle your productivity. Since writing is what I am doing, I’ll use the example of writers. Many have spoken about the fear of success, saying that after writing that one great piece that shook the world, the success paralyzed them. They could not bring themselves to writing the next thing. Because it could be total cr*p. The bar has been raised and no author wants to see it come down. What if the next work is a total mess and they do not like it?
This happens after successful interviews as well. The HR guy shakes your hand and with a smile says, “We can’t wait to have you onboard.”
Good news, yeah? But deep inside you may be anxious and worried. What if you don’t deliver? According to Psychology Today, in some instances, success threatens to lead to disappointment.
The following questions will help you to fit into that new organization without having to fight back anxiety and imposter syndrome. Ask yourself these questions before you start the new gig.
What is this job all about?
Remind yourself what interested you about it in the first place, what your salient strengths were and why you were chosen for it. That will help you redefine and refine your belief that you have what it takes.
What do I need to know to do it well?
That is a simple question but it helps a great deal. Dig and find out what you need to know, including targets, the people you will be working with, and the environment. This is something you can ask after the organization breaks the news that they want you on board.
Remember, they would not hire you if they did not think you were qualified. For more on getting out of your own way, watch this insightful conversation on self-sabotage.
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