Barrier 1 Fear of the Unknown

Fear comes out in a lot of different ways relative to creativity. Just exploring new ideas brings on fear because new ideas are part of the great unknown. New ideas aren't proven. Maybe it's just human nature to fear the unknown, but it's certainly a pattern that's been with us for centuries.

In the early days of maps, what was shown on the outer fringe of the known world? Sea dragons and monsters, right? Because no one knew what was out there, they feared it.

New ideas are, by definition, unknown. One can even argue that this fear thing, a barrier for most people, is also an acid test of a new idea. I'll go even further and add that a new idea, by definition, must have some element of fear, because a new idea is unproven and therefore you might fail. So it might be a monster, but you don't know.

Of course, in this ever changing world, just staying with what you're doing now—not changing, not thinking of a new idea —could doom you to failure as well.

But for some reason we find more security and less fear in the known than in the unknown.

Fear is an integral part of the creative process. What exactly are we afraid of? Well, for one thing, people simply fear being wrong. The fear of failure prevents many people from venturing, from exploring, or from taking action once they think of a new idea. But there's a paradox here. Are you aware that highly successful people fail more than average people?

Did you know that Babe Ruth not only hit more home runs than anyone else in his time, but also struck out more than anyone else in his time? One of his modern-day equivalents, Michael Jordan, missed more shots during his playing time than anyone else. I tracked this at the NBA web site for three years in a row, Michael's last three years with the Chicago Bulls, during the league championship series. Not only was Michael Jordan named MVP all three years, but he also missed more shots than anyone else. In fact, he went out in style: In his final year he missed twice as many shots as anyone else. Yet he was a winner. Albert Einstein said, "Show me someone who hasn't failed, and I'll show you someone who hasn't tried hard enough."

A study by a major university in California showed that the top scientists in the world fail more than average scientists.

We learn from failure. There is progress in failure. And not doing anything sometimes constitutes failure.

The only way to succeed is to do something, so we have to be willing to risk failure. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky says, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." We have to be willing to risk failure, because inaction is failure when it comes to things creative.

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