How Leaders Recognize Fear of Failure

Fear-of-FailureFear of failure has several telltale—and observable—signs. You’re likely to set your ambitions too low or too high, explains entrepreneurship expert Robert Kelsey, author of What’s Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don’t Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can (Capstone, 2012).

  • Goals set too low reflect a lack of self-confidence and a fear of achieving normal benchmarks, he explains in a 2012 article.
  • Conversely, goals set too high serve as a mask for your insecurities. Failure is expected, as no one could possibly achieve these targets—which means there shouldn’t be any criticism. Liken it to an attempt to swim the English Channel in rough seas: No one is expected to accomplish it, so we bestow admiration on those who try, yet fail.


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The Great Leadership Challenge:
Fear of Failure

Fear-of-FailureOf all the challenges leaders face, none is more pervasive yet hidden than fear of failure.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”Robert F. Kennedy

Leadership is a tough job that requires courage. Doubts, insecurities and fears make organizational challenges more difficult and, in extreme cases, insurmountable. No matter how confident you may appear, anxiety can occur at pivotal times in your career.

Being able to talk about your fears is best done in a confidential coaching relationship. Fears are normal emotions that emerge in times of crisis. It’s been said that courage has no benchmark unless one grasps the reality of fear. Fears are real, often strong and quite disruptive, but your response to them defines your leadership hardiness. Read More »

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Shift Your Mindset for Success:
Some Really Practical Tips

Mindset If you’ve ever suspected you’ve got more potential than you’re actually achieving, then part of the problem may be your mindset. The way we handle mistakes and setbacks is determined by our thinking.  Two sets of mindsets come into play, according to Carol Dweck, Ph.D., author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Random House, 2006).

Unlike IQ, which remains relatively fixed, you can learn to shift your mindset so that you can grow and achieve more success.

Everyone has two basic mindsets: open to growth, or closed and fixed.

  1. An open mindset is open to learning and changing, believing one can always do better.
  2. The fixed mindset is entrenched in the belief that natural talents and abilities predetermine success.

Begin by paying attention to all the ways you are using a fixed mindset. You could be applying fixed thinking to your career, sports, and even to your relationships.

To replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset you’ll need to embrace the things that have felt threatening, such as criticism, setbacks, and challenges. Are you willing to look at these things as learning opportunities instead of threats?

Remember: the first step toward change is awareness. You can’t shift your attitude until you’re aware of the many ways you’re using a fixed mindset.

Three Questions to Shift Your Mindset

Ask yourself these three questions to shift your thinking:

  1. What can I do today that would advance the knowledge and skills I need to be successful at my goal?
  2. What can I learn about this task so I can achieve it?
  3. Who can I ask for help or feedback with this goal?

The difference between successful people and those who are not is often as simple as asking yourself these three questions: what can I do, what can I learn, who can help me?

This is how a growth mindset starts to take hold in your brain. Instead of putting things off, or finding reasons and rationalizations for why you’re not succeeding like you think you should, answer these questions and then make a concrete plan.

It’s not enough to dream, although that helps to form a clear picture of what you want. You also need to visualize and articulate what you’re going to do, when you will do it, and specify the details.

The idea is not only to shift your mindset, but to also get into action. The best mindset in the world is worthless if you don’t follow through.

Recovering From a Closed Mindset

Anyone can change his or her mindset. It requires conscious practice and vigilance, as well as a willingness to be open to learning and changing.

For example: “At 9 a.m. tomorrow, I’ll set that appointment to discuss the situation. I’ll ask questions and receive feedback, without acting defensive. I won’t make excuses. I’ll take in information, be receptive, and thank others for their input. I can decide what to do later.”

Detailed plans that cover when, where, and how you’re going to do something lead to high levels of follow-through and increase your chances of success. Even if you have negative feelings, you must carry through with your growth-oriented plan.

How to Grow Your Mindset

Are you in a fixed or growth mindset in your workplace? Ask yourself the following questions, which will encourage an open mindset:

  1. Are there ways I could be less defensive about my mistakes?
  2. How could I profit more from the feedback I get?
  3. In what ways can I create more learning experiences for myself and my team?
  4. How can I help myself and my team get mentoring or coaching?
  5. In what ways can I create a culture of self-examination, collaboration, and teamwork?
  6. What are the signs of groupthink in my work group?
  7. How can I encourage alternative views and constructive criticism?

The idea is that by adopting a mindset open to learning, you’re not afraid of risks because they’re part of the learning and growing process. What do you think? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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Unlock Your Potential with a Shift in Mindset

MindsetDo you ever wonder why some very smart people don’t live up to their potential? Maybe you even include yourself in this category. Some scientists propose that underachieving may come down to mindset.

Mindset is “an established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn’t be so set, according to Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford.

Dweck proposes in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, (2006) that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. According to this accomplished researcher and Stanford professor, we have the power to shift our mindset from one that barely gets us by to one whereby we thrive. Read More »

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Self Confidence, Mindset and
Achievement: Vital for Leadership

Self-ConfidenceLeaders require mental toughness and resilience under fire. How do we develop self confidence in our careers? Since none of us are immune to mistakes along the way, how do we handle those so that we continue to build confidence without sweeping them under the carpet?

It all has to do with mindset, that is, how we perceive our mistakes and achievements. Mindset refers to an individual’s belief about oneself and one’s most basic qualities, such as talent, intelligence, and personality. Fixed mindsets are characterized by the belief that one’s basic qualities are fixed—as if genetically predetermined. Individuals with fixed mindsets believe that practice has no relationship to performance success, which has been shown to be maladaptive across domains. Read More »

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Leading with Self Confidence:
Growth Mindset Required

Self-confidenceSelf confidence is a key ingredient to leadership success but too much can lead one astray if not grounded in reality. The history of great business failures is littered with over-confident leaders who believed they were immune to risk. Without authentic confidence, leaders can’t create outstanding business results.

I’d say leading with confidence is a requirement similar to athletes and sports performance. Researchers have found that self-confidence is one of the most influential factors in how well an athlete performs in a competition. In particular, “robust self-confidence beliefs” are correlated with aspects of “mental toughness,” or the ability to cope better than your opponents with many demands and remain determined, focused and in control under pressure. Read More »

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The Link Between Self-Confidence
and Leadership Actualization

Maslows-Hierarchy-Of-Needs-PyramidMost executives I work with in my coaching practice are familiar with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The American psychologist (1908-1970) proposed that all humans are motivated to satisfy certain basic needs, and once those needs are secured, they strive to satisfy more needs, eventually seeking self-actualization or the expression of self-fulfillment, to become everything they are capable of becoming.

In exploring how self-confidence contributes to leadership actualization, I found Maslow’s model helpful in explaining why some people find it difficult to climb the pyramid, so to speak. So many of us are stuck between the third and fourth levels. We are busy trying to satisfy our needs for self-esteem so we don’t get to a higher level. But the thirst for self-esteem doesn’t get quenched. We keep on trying to fill our cup with proof of our worth. Without confidence, we don’t satisfy self-esteem needs, and we can’t go on to seek self-actualization. Our leadership potential is inhibited. Read More »

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Lack of Self Confidence: What’s Stopping You?

Self-ConfidenceNo one—not even the most outwardly self-assured leader—is immune from periods of self-doubt and lack of self confidence. In fact, sometimes doubt can be healthy when it acts as an internal check. People with healthy self confidence are more adept at managing their inner experiences and better at learning from mistakes and failures. Their self confidence isn’t as fragile. But with other people, any setback tends to topple all of their dominoes in a row, bringing out their worst behaviors.

Robert Kelsey, in his book What’s Stopping You Being More Confident? (Capstone, 2012), recounts his own story as an entrepreneur and how lack of confidence became a self-fulfilling prophesy in a string of failed business ventures. For the past two decades he’s been exploring how to overcome his own barriers to success. Read More »

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Why Leaders Need to Improve
(Authentic) Self Confidence

Self-ConfidenceNo one gives you self confidence; it is something each of us has to develop on our own. Now, you may have been fortunate to have had great parents and siblings and supportive teachers who intuitively built your self-esteem. Okay, lucky you.

I don’t deny that happens and that some people seem to have been blessed from birth. However, I contend that even so, given the negativity bias of the brain, every one of us carries a kernel of under-confidence and self-doubt.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford, U.S. industrialist

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Narcissistic Leadership or Visionary?

Narcissistic-leadershipThere’s a case to be made for narcissistic CEOs who can lead companies to greatness, inspire followers and achieve game-changing solutions in our rapidly changing world.

“It is narcissistic leaders who take us to places we’ve never been before, who innovate, who build empires out of nothing.” ~ Michael Maccoby, Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails (Crown Business, 2012).

By creating a vision others can follow, narcissists gain personal security and overcome isolation. This is what motivates them to be captivating, inspirational, charming and seductive.

History and business have witnessed legions of successful, productive narcissists who led their organizations to great success: Napoleon, Rockefeller, Roosevelt and Churchill. In the last 20 years, we’ve enjoyed radical advances from companies led by productive narcissists like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Howard Schultz, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey. Read More »

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