Innovation Blog

The Role of Fear in Innovation: Face It, Push Back, Overcome!

By Shlomo Maital


As a half-pint squirt, I recall growing up in fear — fear of bullies, fear of failure, fear of not getting approval from parents and teachers.   I think what I achieved was greatly limited by this fear, and only late in life have I learned to overcome it.

That is why I was so pleased to read, in the latest AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Bulletin (“the world’s largest circulation magazine”) a short piece by the Editor, Nancy Perry Graham, titled “When dreams take flight”.  Ms. Graham recounts taking an American Airlines fear-of-flying course, in preparing a story for Fortune about executives terrified of air travel.   Those who took the course and overcame their fear spoke of it being “one of the great experiences of my life, I’m angry at myself for not doing it a long time ago!”.

Graham recounts a key line from the best-selling book Who Moved My Cheese? It reads:  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.

So, reader — what would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?  What are you afraid of?  Why?   What would happen if you did the very things you feared?

Innovation involves taking risks.  Risk engenders fear.   You cannot take calculated risks if the visceral emotion of fear clouds your judgment.   Launch today a systematic program of overcoming fears, by listing your deepest fears,  beginning with small ones and progressing to larger ones, and tackling them one by one.   Push back against fear!  Don’t wait, as I did, until it is almost too late.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?   Absolutely everything, and anything, that will change the world.  Go for it.

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