Monday, December 20, 2010

Addicted to Success

At first glance you would think it’s great to be addicted to success, but what I realised recently is that there's two sides to it... the other side of the coin is the fear of failure. Personally I have found that my greatest fear is the fear of failure. This can hamper all aspects of life, from work to personal achievements to even relationships, as we have to take calculated risks if we ever want to get anywhere.
I was doing a part time project at a research organisation while I was on my 4 month break. While working there the Prof I was working with asked me, were you ranked first in class throughout in your school? I was pleasantly surprised and thought, wow he must be really impressed with my work to ask such a question! and replied yes, that I often was. To this he replied ‘Yes I thought so. You seem to have a fear of giving wrong answers.’ This conversation started while we were discussing some background information regarding the project and he had asked me to make some estimates, to which I said that it depended on many factors and that I needed more information before I could estimate. Then he told me, If you want to do research, you will have to get over this fear, as research is based on many assumptions, and hypothesis, and you have to just guess and then see if it is correct.

Then I also realised this fear was also one of the reasons I had a fear of speaking up at meetings and presentations... my fear of asking stupid questions, or giving wrong answers... difficulty I have in speaking French and making mistakes or speaking with a wrong accent, which I posted about earlier This fear of making mistakes, or the addition to success literally cripples, and keeps me from trying new things.

Here is a really thought provoking article on success through failure from the Harvard Business Review blog

So my lesson of the day, you can’t always be right, or be sure of everything, sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and just try...

I have not failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work." – Thomas Edison

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