I have been thinking about why many people never put their ideas into action. The vast majority of us have a business idea every single day but most will never even try to research whether or not it would work. Why is that?
As I pondered through the usual reasons people give, such as the lack of start up capital, the poor economic environment, so on and so forth, I thought of a reason I have never actually heard anyone use, mostly because no one would ever admit it: dozens of people are too embarrassed to fail and this psychological stumbling block holds them back from even trying. It’s not entirely their fault either, culturally we have been bred to avoid embarrassment. This fear has been instilled in most from a very young age. I will elucidate this with two examples.
Example 1: The athlete who wanted to take part in something
This weekend a 17-year old bloke named Sogelau Tuvalu from American Samoa in the South Pacific entered the 100-metres and finished miles behind everyone else; I say miles but it was actually a mere 5-seconds after everyone else, however, in the world of 100-metre sprints, that’s a big difference.
This man had initially failed to qualify for a shot-put event so he decided he would go the 100-metres and in preparation for that he trained 4-hours a day for a month. On the day of the run he achieved his personal best although he was the last man to pass the finish line. Whilst other laughed at him, he was ecstatic at merely having tried.
I admire this sort of spirit because, for me, that is what life should be all about: trying your best and being your best.
Example 2: The girl who isn’t embarrassed to ask
That’s me. Two days ago one of my colleagues brought up a situation in which I had asked a highly intelligent question but had mispronounced one word. In fact the mispronunciation was due to the fact that the word is pronounced differently in classical Latin versus in English. I learnt Latin first and that’s how I thought the word should be said and in fact I prefer saying the word that way. Anyhow, he has a laugh and I laugh with him because I don’t take myself too seriously and then I told him that I was still proud to have asked the question because a) in the entire forum of about 200-300 people no other woman asked a question and I thought we shouldn’t just leave the floor to the guys and b) several people wanted to know the answer to my question but asking it would have looked like they were challenging the decision of senior managers; I, on the other hand, am nonplussed by such considerations.
“I’m not easily embarrassed," I told my colleague, in conclusion.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed,” he answered back, annoyed that he had failed to irk me.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the bottom line. Some people just have such a strong fear of this emotion called embarrassment that they will not put themselves in any position where there is a chance that it could happen. I am proud to be a member of the not-so-easily-embarrassed crew and I hope this will enable me to make positive decisions in my life.
As long as you believe that you have done or are doing the right thing, PLEASE don’t let the fear of embarrassment stop you from trying to put your dream into action, go for it!
27/8/2011 08:09:19 pm
Most of us struggle with this but we have to make a conscious decision to push through it. Believe that the cost of never trying is far higher than the cost of failing
13/9/2011 06:33:29 pm
Hi Heather - stumbled across your blog on Linkedin, its great and I really enjoyed this article too.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.