Forget your ego. Just focus on the possibility of what might be. Take the risk

David FullerI remember the first time I really bruised my business ego.

I was 21 and had convinced a bunch of investors that my idea was the next big thing. For months I built the product, pounded the pavement and found buyers. It was really hard work, and after a while I realized that I wasn’t going to get rich quickly.

On top of that, I had to face the investors and tell them that they were only going to get “most” of their money back. It was a difficult thing to do. I felt like a failure. My ego was severely bruised, and I learned a lesson I never wanted to repeat.

If you’re a leader in a community, a family or a business, you will inevitably make mistakes. Unless you have a heart of stone, this is going to hurt. You’re going to disappoint others; you’re going to do things that affect people’s lives; you’re going to face criticism; people are going to say things that sting.

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Unless we’re narcissistic, we’re often harder on ourselves than the others judging us. We seem to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold for others. We seem to think that we shouldn’t make mistakes because we’re the leader.

Our ego is deflated, we feel like a catastrophe, and often we sink into a depression.

But what is failure?

If I hadn’t failed in my first venture, would I have learned how to prepare for my next success? Thomas Edison tried approximately 10,000 times to invent the light bulb, yet he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine how many times he picked his ego off the floor, how often he would have been discouraged.

A young single mother on welfare struggled to support her child. In her spare time, she dreamed of writing a novel. Ultimately, she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and six more books in the series. Now a billionaire and considered one of the greatest business successes of the 21st century, J.K Rowling has said, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.”

How often does fear of failure prevent us from beginning? We dwell on the fact that others might think less of us if we make mistakes, that they might criticize our efforts or laugh at our folly. Because of this fear, we fail to speak up about what needs to be said in our families. We fail to stand up and be counted in our communities. We decide not to risk our money or time to live our dreams in business.

Yes, we’re going to disappoint. We’re going to make mistakes. People will talk about us, and our egos will be hurt if we fail.

However, if we want to achieve something small or great, we must take risks. We need to follow our hearts and do what’s right. In business and in life, nothing happens if we’re held back by the fear that change will take too much effort and that, despite all that effort, we risk a dismal failure.

Forget your ego. Just focus on the possibility of what might be. Take the risk.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc.

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