Grant also suggested the Warby Parker crew were full of doubts. “They had backup plans lined up, and that made me doubt they had the courage to be original. I realised that while on the surface a lot of originals look confident, behind the scenes, they feel the same fear and doubt the rest of us do. They just manage it differently.”
In his research he discovered there are two different kinds of doubt. There’s self-doubt and idea doubt, the latter of which motivates you to test, experiment and refine. So the key may very well be to simply stop telling yourself you’re bad at something, and say you’re just not there yet. So how do you get there? It turns out there’s a clue in the Internet browser that you use. Grant explained that Firefox and Chrome users significantly outperform Internet Explorer and Safari users. They also stay in their jobs 15 per cent longer – and it’s not due to a technical advantage.
This is because Internet Explorer and Safari came preinstalled on your computer. If you wanted Firefox or Chrome, you had to doubt the default option and then download a new browser. And no, it doesn’t work to suddenly switch over now because you didn’t initially have that doubt.
“Essentially, if you’re a good doubter then you will open yourself up to the opposite of déjà vu – vuja de. This is when you look at something you’ve seen many times before and all of a sudden see it with fresh eyes. It’s a screenwriter who looks at a movie script that can’t get the green light for more than half a century.”
Take for example the age-old Disney formula of one of the main characters being an evil queen. Enter Jennifer Lee who questioned whether it truly made sense. She altered the first act of a story ready to get the green light, reinvented the villain to be a tortured hero instead and Frozen has since the most successful animated movie ever. The message? When you feel doubt, don’t let it go.
Read more about failing in business:
- We need a stronger culture of “smart failure”
- Turning around a failing business can offer investors lucrative returns
- Failing as an entrepreneur isn’t as bad as one might think
While originals also feel fear, they’re even more afraid of failing to try said Grant: “They know you can fail by starting a business that goes bankrupt or by failing to start a business at all. They know that in the long run, our biggest regrets are not our actions but our inactions. Elon Musk told me he didn’t expect Tesla to succeed. He was sure the first few SpaceX launches would fail to make it to orbit, let alone get back, but it was too important not to try. And for so many of us, when we have an important idea, we don’t bother to try.
“But I have some good news for you. You are not going to get judged on your bad ideas. A lot of people think they will. If you look across industries and ask people about their biggest idea, their most important suggestion, 85 percent of them stayed silent instead of speaking up. They were afraid of embarrassing themselves, of looking stupid. But guess what? Originals have lots and lots of bad ideas, tons of them, in fact.
“If you look across fields, the greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most. Even the three icons of classical music – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart – had to generate hundreds and hundreds of compositions to come up with a much smaller number of masterpieces. So when you see all of these traits, don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t write them off. And when that’s you, don’t count yourself out either. Know that being quick to start but slow to finish can boost your creativity, that you can motivate yourself by doubting your ideas and embracing the fear of failing to try, and that you need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”
Fear can be helpful because it alerts us to danger, whether justified or not, but it can also wreak havoc on a business by choking creativity and ambition. Here’s ten ways to slay your corporate dragons.
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