How many times growing up did you hear the words “be careful”? 100? 1,000? If you are a parent, care to take a guess about how many times you’ve said it to your kids? We call this caution, right? Good parents teach their kids to be cautious – to wear their helmets, their seatbelts, their knee pads.
But what are we really teaching? What do we give as a reason for this caution? You’ll break your legs. You’ll shoot your eye out. What we are truly passing on is risk aversion. Don’t take risks – you might die. We have this fear of risk instilled in us from such an early age that it becomes part of our DNA – part of our personal genetic makeup.
Despite what your mother told you, fear is not an asset as a leader. If you allow your fear to control your actions you will make bad choices. If you allow your fear to keep you from acting at all, you will fail completely.
Fear of a true threat is a good thing – it can keep you alive, but fear of failure or worse, fear of success can keep you from your goals.
If you know me personally, you know that I’m a teeny tiny control freak. I like to be in the driver’s seat – I don’t want to leave big decisions to others. As a consequence I’m afraid of flying. Despite the fact that I have no idea how to actually fly an airplane, I still struggle with the concept of letting someone else have what is essentially control over my life. One wrong move by that guy in the blue suit and I become part of a smoking hole in the ground. So each time I get into an airplane I do it sweating and white knuckled.
But I do it anyway.
Because the flight is only the path to the destination. Your focus has to be the goal, not the obstacle. I refuse to miss out on the opportunity to see the world just because I’m afraid of the process.
To grow in your career you have to constantly evaluate our own sense of caution and walk the fine line of being bold without being reckless. No one has ever won a game from the couch.
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