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How to Overcome Your Fear of Making Mistakes

https://hbr.org/2020/06/how-to-overcome-your-fear-of-making-mistakes

hbr.org

How to Overcome Your Fear of Making Mistakes
Step one: Don’t be ashamed of your fear.

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Making mistakes

Making mistakes

We're often presented with challenges that we've not encountered before that may leave us feeling fearful of making mistakes. But no one can reduce mistakes to zero.

However, if you understand how anxiety works at a cognitive level, you can learn to use it to prevent errors.

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Don’t be ashamed of your fear

Don't be ashamed or afraid of your fear of making mistakes, and don't think that being fearful is evidence that you're an indecisive leader. If you are prevention-focused, channel it to be bold and visionary.

The traditional image of a leader is one who is intelligent, brave, and unafraid. Your concern about making mistakes is there to remind you that you're in a challenging situation. Being cautious has value.

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Emotional agility skills

Fear of mistakes can prevent people from taking action. Overcome this paralysis with emotional agility skills:

  • State your fears out loud. It will help diffuse them.
  • Accept reality. List every truth you need to accept. "I understand that people will not always behave in ideal ways."
  • Act on your values. Identify your five most important values related to decision-making in a crisis, then ask yourself how each of those is relevant to the critical choices you face.

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Worrying can help decision making

.. but only when you are solutions-focused. We can control systems, not outcomes. If you have a system to avoid mistakes, ask yourself:

  • Is your data reliable?
  • What are the limitations of it?
  • How do your systems help prevent groupthink?
  • What procedures do you have to prevent blindspots?
  • What are your processes for being alerted to a problem quickly and fixing it?

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Put your fears in a broader context

When we're scared of making a mistake, we can become fixated on that particular scenario. For example, if you're worried about tripping at night, you keep looking at our feet.

When you see your fears in the broader context of all the other threats, you can get a better perspective. Thinking about other negative outcomes can help put you into a problem-solving mode and lessen the mental grip a particular fear has on you.

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The value of leisure

Fear grabs our full attention. However, some people react to fear with extreme hyper-vigilance. They want to be on guard all the time.

That type of adrenalin-fuelled behaviour can have short-term value, but it can also be myopic. We need leisure and sleep to see the bigger picture and think about tough problems holistically.

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Detach from judgment-clouding noise

When people are fearful, they may have the urge to constantly look at what everyone else is doing. This can result in information overload and you may feel cloudy or shut down.

Recognise if you're doing this and limit over-monitoring or over-checking.

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