Why do we fear success?

We have all heard the term "analysis paralysis," meaning that we overthink things to the point where we get stuck and can't move forward. Have you ever thought about why we get stuck? Fear. We are afraid of failure. We are afraid of being embarassed. We are afraid of the consequences of our actions.

So why do we have such fear? Because we were brought up that way. How many school teachers did you have that rewarded you for trying hard and failing? How many tests did you pass just by trying? Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the school system for our fear of failure. Teachers do the best with what they have.

There are societies that are more risk averse than others, but that doesn't just apply to business. It starts much earlier. Systems that encourage productive failure, trial and error and taking calculated risks will inevitably be different than those that are more conservative and focus on stability and maintaining the status quo.

Think about that when you are discussing the culture of your organization. Everyone claims to be entrepreneurial and flexible, but that is just not true. I worked with an organization that claimed to have an entrepreneurial culture, but the CEO wanted to approve every single decision that was made. Those two actions don't mesh.

If you want to eliminate fear of failure and "analysis paralysis" in your organization, then you need to take actual steps to do that. Encourage failure. Encourage collaboration across teams and divisions. Encourage employees to develop new ideas around your existing offerings. Be open to new and radical ideas. Encourage people to trust their instincts and take action. Encourage people to learn from their mistakes. Encourage controlled chaos and ambiguity.

Culture does not happen through words, it happens through actions. Every successfull company in the world has had it's share of failures. What actions are you taking to develop the organizational culture that you want?


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