As I continue to have more and more meaningful business conversations, I’m beginning to notice a trend incorporating both fear and success. Most of the fear comes from people who hesitate when making decisions because the outcome is unknown. In other words, the fear of failure or an outcome they are unaware of or did not expect. This kind of fear can sabotage a person’s future before they even give themselves the chance to try. The fear of the unknown ranks pretty high for most, next to public speaking and death. FOTU (fear of the unknown) is a real thing, a serious thing, and something that is keeping many from their success. The academic definition for Fear of the unknown (FOTU) is: “an individual’s propensity to experience fear caused by the perceived absence of information at any level of consciousness or point of processing” (R.N. Carleton, 2016; p. 39). So, this pretty much says that the fear of the unknown happens because people don’t have all the information necessary to move forward accordingly. Newsflash: taking action on uncertainty is a key factor to being successful and building successful businesses. In order to take action on uncertainty, I believe you must always be in a state of wandering and learning, ensuring fear doesn’t deter you from moving forward.

Recently, our CMO at BizON told me (ineloquently yet effectively) that greatness sometimes comes out of messiness, out of hesitations and tiny misaligned yucky decisions. He mentioned that it sometimes comes from not dotting all the i’s or crossing all the t’s and letting things be – looking at things as an adventure and not so prim and proper. I digested his point of view and acknowledged it as if he was saying that success and greatness come out of being agile and embracing ‘fear’ or ‘unknowns’ as a learning experience or adventure, something that acts as a ‘moveable’ building block versus a brick wall. In the end, I was happy he told me this. There’s a ton you can learn from your colleagues if you’re willing to listen.

With that said, if you can conquer fear, then inevitably you can consistently go after your goals and progress, which leads to building momentum. I’ve said this before: with momentum comes commitment and with commitment you become reliable, focused, curious, passionate and energetic. This is when fears begin to subside and you finally allow yourself to thrive. When these elements exist, you will be fully aware that learning comes from your willingness to take risks and move forward. 

Further, we can create a case for how success comes from taking fear head on, continuing to be courageous, executing and having the confidence to move from thought to action, knowing fully that there is no assuredness that things will work out – but you still need to have the willingness to try. Your character is tested with there’s headwind, challenges and fears, this is what success looks like. It’s super important to know that embracing the unknown is about understanding that mistakes are a natural part of learning. This is why it is imperative to stay focused and stay strong in order to tolerate anything that comes your way, be it failure, boredom, distractions, intimidation, etc. The key is to keep going no matter what and to be driven by your passion and not your fears. You need to understand the difference between failure that drives learning and failure to execute. The first brings valuable data and the latter is a waste of time.

I’ll leave you with some wise words spoken by Dale Carnegie:

If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.