Fear of failure is overrated.
You’re likely not going to get fired over trying something new and radical. So it’s not really failure that people are afraid of, it’s blame, criticism.
This is another great topic that Seth Godin elaborates on in his book Tribes.
He says that we’re afraid to launch that new idea or product or presentation because we’re worried, deep down, that someone will hate it and call us on it. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” “What a waste of money.” “Who’s responsible for this?”
Sometimes the criticism doesn’t have to be that obvious. The fear of hearing “I’m surprised you launched this without doing more research” is enough to get many people to do a lot more research, to study something to death, and then kill it. Hey, at least you didn’t get criticized.
Seth admits, getting a bad book review hurts his feelings, and it is about enough to ruin his day. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough to ruin his day because his book got noticed. He realizes that a bad review is a badge of honor because it means that he confounded expectations – he did something worth remarking on.
So the challenge, as you contemplate your next opportunity to be boring or remarkable, is to answer these two questions:
1. If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact other than feeling bad about the criticism? If so, how does that feeling compare with the benefits from actually doing something worth doing? Being remarkable is exciting, fun, profitable, and great for your career. Feeling bad wears off. If you’ve decided to take the remarkable path, answer this one:
2. How can I create something that critics will criticize?