Gain the Courage to Take Action and to Make a Difference
Recently, I’ve been reading through the book “Tribes” by Seth Godin. If you’re not familiar with any of his works you should put reading at least one of his publications on your to do list. They are often short and quick reads – Seth has the unique ability to explain complicated issues in concise and simple ways. He is my favourite contemporary author and thinker.
In Tribes, there is a very small section on fear of failure. It’s a powerful two pages that exposes many of our fears for what they really are – silly and stupid. We’ll often stop doing something, or never try anything, because we’re afraid of criticism. We’re afraid that we might fail. Maybe waste resources or lose money.
Fear is silly and stupid because if you never risk anything you’ll never gain anything either. Fear has a way of paralyzing us. To spark us into inaction. It helps us justify our inaction by creating excuses. “Well, I don’t know the numbers perfectly so there could be something that changes everything.”
If you live in a world of “should” and “could” then you are living in a world of fear. Stop. Out of the whole gamut of emotions we experience as humans – fear is the only one that can stop us from taking action! I’m not talking about the type of fear where you’re startled into fighting or fleeing. But the fear of something that could happen but hasn’t yet (anxiety).
Criticism and Failure is Not the End
It’s foolish to think that if you fail once, it’s all over. In business you are bound to fail. In fact, the best and most successful people are those who have failed (often). Failure gives you a unique opportunity to learn something new. Next time you’ll do better.
When you look at failure this way you’ll actually see success. Because learning something new is a success. Or more accurately, learning something new and doing it better next time is a success. Even if you fail again.
Criticism is similar. In fact, as Seth Godin points out, if nobody criticizes you – then that’s a sign of a bad idea. If somebody has criticized you they at least took notice of you. Your feelings might be hurt but that pain is short. Besides, it’s easier to be a critic than the person putting themselves out there.
Please listen to this though: there are bad ideas. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between courageously staying the course or changing the idea. You have to take the criticisms & failures and learn from them. Tweak your idea based on what you’ve learned or realize that a completely new one needs to be born.
Fear is Sneaky
I hate fear. It always sneaks in when I’m not paying attention. It’s usually because I’m getting complacent. Maybe I’m still riding high from my last accomplishment. Maybe I’m just generally happy with the way things are. Suddenly, it seems so much riskier to try something new or innovate something different. You have more to lose.
Or so you might think. Staying safe won’t move you forward though. Eventually, your previous accomplishments and risks that paid off won’t be effective any more. You’ve got to keep moving forward. You’ve got to keep putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.
What Does Fear have to do with Marketing?
If you follow this blog at all you know it’s about marketing. Internet marketing and it’s various facets to be more precise. This article may seem a little off-topic. I don’t think it is.
We’re all scared to innovate in our marketing. We hold back on putting our personality and ideas out there. It’s because we fear we’ll be rejected. Truth is, you probably will get rejected quite often. But then there’s those times when you really get it right. Suddenly, everything changes for the better.
Best practices are wonderful. Some really work and will always work. Other practices won’t work forever. Once the world is tired of seeing the same old trick, that trick often stops working. Which is why, if you can be fearless with your marketing, you could find the next trend. You could be the first to find something that works. That’s a good place to be (for a little while at least).
It’s risky being innovative though. You could spend a lot of money on the wrong marketing campaign for your business. You could hire the wrong agency to run it. But there we go again with the “could” and “should.” That’s fear – that’s the enemy. Those with courage succeed.
Ok, I’m not asking you to just throw your hard-earned resources at any idea that comes your way. You should mitigate your risk. Obviously, you can’t spend $10,000 on a marketing campaign if you only have $5,000. You’re intelligent – identify the fear and isolate it. Then weigh your true risks.
Are you simply afraid of some criticism? Losing a few dollars? Getting it wrong?
What’s the worst that could happen? Is that a real, tangible, irreversible pain and loss?
If you’re just scared of feeling bad or failing at something – then you’re letting fear control you. If there will be real damage then it’s worthwhile finding something else to try. Don’t lose family, friends, or end up on the street because of an idea.
Step Out with Courage
Listen, I’m basically self-counselling myself with this post. Fear is a part of my life as much as yours. We could all use a little extra courage in our ideas, passions, and desires to make a difference. So it’s up to you. Go do something. Or don’t. Those with the courage to fail are the only ones with the courage to greatly succeed.
Hopefully, this post hit home with you. Do you have any thoughts? Please leave some comments below and share this post with your friends. We all struggle with fear and we all need to be reminded of the danger.