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Flavours of Thought : Fear of the Unknow, Failure

Fear of the Unknown, Failure

Excerpted from Flavours of Thought: Recipes for Fresh Thinking by Tom Evans

Recipe 4: Fear of the unknown

Occasions
Starting a new venture
Not knowing which way to go
Never getting projects off the ground

Ingredients
Reception >> Replication >> Validation

This fear is enough to stop anyone in their tracks. Extreme cases can manifest as agoraphobia.

To cure this affliction, first you must be receptive to the precise conditions that bring the fear into being.

Is it all cases where things are unknown or something more specific?

If you were to have a map with which to navigate or a guide to show you the way, does the fear subside?

Once you find the key, you realise it's not the fear itself that is crippling you but the lack of an appropriate coping strategy. Once you identify where you can get the appropriate guidance from, you merely need to replicate this each time the fear comes up. Note that the strategy may change from case to case and it's healthy that it does.

The final part of this recipe is to test and validate its efficacy. You do this by assessing if the strategy has resulted in a win-win-win situation.

Has the fear subsided and do you feel you have overcome it?

Have you ended up in a better place than you were expecting?

Do you now realise that the fear wasn't real and was merely an unconscious murmur telling you there was a gap in your knowledge bank?

Recipe 6: Fear of failure

Occasions
Procrastination: putting off today what you can do tomorrow
Being a busy fool
Always serving others first before you

Ingredients
Extension >> Revolution >> Composition

By far the best way never to fail is not to try. Accordingly, this recipe always starts with a desire to extend yourself in some manner. The fear is only present to make you aware of possible mental or physical harm. The murmurs of your unconscious mind are your protector here.

Application of the first flavour requires you to assess how exactly you want to extend yourself. What do you want to achieve and what would be a good outcome?

Next, think about the last time you tried something similar and it ended in some kind of failure. What was the result of that failure exactly?

The worse case scenario at any time is just that you know what doesn't work. It is a mere palliative to apply that type of thinking, however.

What you must do is work out what needs to change. You need a revolution in your thinking.

Firstly, realise that it is actually failure not to try.

For example, there are far more authors who have written something and not published than have written and published a book. The difference between the two groups is that the latter went one extra mile.

Secondly, this time you will change your approach so that new thinking results in a different outcome.

You do this by composing both yourself and composing a new strategy. You will fail if you try exactly the same combination as last time. This time it will be different because you are thinking differently.

This recipe is subtle. Do not give up on your first attempt. Making the perfect omelet, or being able to flip that first pancake, takes practice and a delicate touch. •

Tom Evans Renaissance Man and Imagineer Tom Evans is the author of four books and counting about creativity. More »

12/3/11