This week I was lucky enough to spend the day with a team of very cool internal communicators from a large, multinational company. These folks faced real challenges—organizational, logistical, legal and business—that made it difficult to build a best-practice employee communication program.
But, as we talked, I got the sense that something else was preventing some of these communicators from making certain changes. Yes, they would have to convince stakeholders that content should be simpler or town halls should be more interactive.
But these communicators also had to get over their own fear of the unknown. They were nervous that change would be difficult. Or that something they tried wouldn’t go exactly as planned. Or, worse, that the change would be a complete failure.
Blogger Ryan Robinson asked Mr. Godin how he manages fear of failure.
The feeling is natural, says Mr. Godin. “When you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone—whether you’re trying a new tool or experimenting with a new medium—it’s hard not to worry about the ‘what ifs.’"
But the key to managing fear is to acknowledge it. That means understanding your anxiety and articulating the fear.
As Mr. Robinson writes, “Rather than trying to convince others that a new endeavor will be an immediate success, Godin makes it very clear there is always the possibility of painful failure. Instead of burying that fear of failure, he challenges himself to dance with his fears.”
Mr. Godin explains that fear “is hardwired into us, for good reason. You had a reason to be afraid during the Spanish Inquisition. You have a reason to be afraid if a baseball bat is flying into the stands.”
However, when it comes to taking creative risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone, “we really don’t have that much to lose. It’s not life or death.”
So we need to keep fear in perspective. “The act of reminding yourself that you simply do not have all the answers, and that failure is a very real possibility, is a vital personal development stage in progression towards becoming a better version of yourself,” says Mr. Godin.
Great advice, right?