Overcoming Fear: The Killer of Innovation

Professionals tend to fear certain things when it comes to their own advancement or their companies’ success. Unfortunately, one casualty of this fear can be the loss of innovative thinking. Overcoming fear and knowing when to innovate can be tricky for even the most seasoned professionals, because getting it wrong can be a true business killer. Having a touch of fear actually benefits the company, because employees get creative in their approaches or solutions to problems. However, too much fear can cripple innovation.

Understanding when to take a risk and when not to can drive you crazy, so here are three tips from leading experts on how to successfully use fear to fuel innovation:

  1. Get to the root of the problem

Preventing fear from crippling a professional’s or team’s innovation starts at getting at the roots of it in the first place. Thinking about times when the company or team took an innovative risk that later turned into a failure can paralyze professionals. Lee Colan, founder of consulting firm The L Group, told Inc. magazine that focusing on fear can often be the cause of failure.

“When you stop to think about your fear, you can determine if your primary response is insecurity, sense of loss, need for control or discomfort with uncertainty,” Colan said. “Once you honestly identify your primary response, you start to know your fear more intimately. Then, you can equip yourself with information and experiences to fearlessly manage change and achieve your goals.”

  1. Stop fear from becoming a plague 

Controlling fear can be close to impossible. Luckily, you can stop it from becoming infectious by first acknowledging they’re afraid to take an innovative risk. Harvard Business Review suggests that being aware of the fear and not burying it helps you tackle it head on. Then, you can begin innovating. Moving forward is a great way to prevent fear from crippling a team, or your company’s innovation.

  1. Overcoming fear and learning from it

Many leaders understand the importance fear plays in innovation all too well. Fear drives creativity because it provides a learning opportunity. Implementing an innovative strategy or product can risk the company’s reputation and finances. However, not doing so can result in a less knowledgeable workforce unable to determine when to jump. Leaders can keep their and their employees’ fear of innovative failure from disabling them by rewarding risk.

Fear is a wonderful teacher once we learn to control our reactions. Learning to embrace your fear leads to a stronger, healthier outlook and builds your self-confidence. And that will allow you to be at your best when trying to innovate your work.

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