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TRG Blog

Don’t let the fear of being wrong holding you back

Posted by Thu Le on

In the previous article, we discussed the “fear of being wrong” phobia, what the causes as well as the consequences are. It is worth noting that this phobia is self-inflicted and gradually becomes an obsession that intervenes deeply in both your work and personal life.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are standing still, you are neither advancing nor withdrawing? You do not dare to speak your mind, nor do you dare to take charge simply because you are afraid of making mistakes and afraid of others knowing your weaknesses? How to overcome such psychological fear so that you can bravely march forward?

"fear of being wrong" phobia

Read more: The power of expectation

Individually treating your fear

Similar to fearing your managers, the fear of being wrong can be treated on an individual and organisational level. For individuals, afraid of making mistakes is one of the obstacles that hinder new breakthroughs and creativity.

In a recent TED Talk, Karen Thompson Walker, the author of "The Age of Miracles" stated: "There is actually a connection between fear and imagination." Through years of research, Karen has discovered that whenever we are faced with making a decision, we tend to “imagine” what would happen next to the "story." The truth is, we are not afraid of mistakes or failures, we are afraid of the consequences that the mistake brings: being looked down upon, being demoted or fired, wasted time and money, etc.

Failure is certainly not a happy-ending to your little story. Once you acknowledge this is the root of your fear, go ahead and ride yourself of that fear and take flight!

Treating the fear for the entire organisation

If you are a manager, and you realise that not just a couple of your employees show signs of this phobia but the majority of the organisation does, you are tasked with identifying the cause of the problem. Only then will you be able to provide the much-needed solution for your staff, help them feel more motivated, further enhance their skills, maintain their thirst for trying new things, ask questions and willing to take risks.

If "creativity," "continuous improvement," and "constant innovation" are among your organisation's core values, let’s evaluate your progress by measuring the improvements over the past 6 months, take notes on how much has changed, is it on the rise or on the downward slope? In addition, if your mid-level management always welcomes new ideas and is ready to be the pioneer, it is likely that your company is fostering “continuous innovation” too. Assessments about creative thinking based on the observations of those around you can be a good start to find out how much the management team is willing to learn.

Read more: 3 leadership & management skills that will help you succeed anywhere

In conclusion, face your mistakes head-on, observe both the subjective and objective causes that lead you to failure, and learn from it. Don’t be afraid to confront the problems; instead, come up with a detailed plan to prevent them from happening again, or at least minimise the damage.

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