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Learning from Big Blokes in Skirts

Learning from Big Blokes in Skirts


    So here I am in gorgeous Fiji, one of the most beautiful places on earth, hanging out with possibly the nicest people on the planet. It’s like everyone in the whole country has a PhD in friendliness. Or at the very least, a Master’s degree in happiness. You know when people smile at you and they really smile; the real deal? Not one of those half-assed pathetic grimaces that we Westerners have perfected; the pseudo smile. Kinda looks more like we have wind than we’re offering any kind of warm greeting. Nope, with these guys it’s your genuine ear-to-ear smile-fest. Man, these people are FRIENDLY!

    It’s kinda strange to go from a culture where the majority tend to avoid eye contact at all costs to one where people almost rugby tackle you to the ground to greet you and express kindness. Perhaps I need to bring a few of the locals back with me. When I’m home I feel pretty special if I get sneered at by a passer-by. Any love’s good love right?

    I know what you might be thinking, “you’re at a resort, they have to be nice to you”. Well yeah I guess, but they’re nice everywhere, not just here. I went for a run into town yesterday (away from the five star experience and into the ‘no star’ zone) and people waved and shouted at me the whole time – little kids, guys working on the side of the road, people in their houses, truck drivers. Imagine that: people being nice just for the sake of it – that’ll never catch on. I think all the shouting and waving back actually tired me out more than the run.

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    Stress Management Fijian Style

    I don’t have any stats on it, but I can’t imagine too many Fijians dying of a stress-related illness any time soon – not the ones I’ve met any way. Maybe I could enlist the help of my new buddy Joseph the gardener, who’s working (and singing) outside my room right now, to run the stress-management part of my session later this morning. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working. I wonder if he has a stress management strategy?

    I’m not sure that this audience will want to relocate to Fiji and become gardeners at the Sofitel but maybe they should. Maybe I should. Maybe we all should.

    I wonder where Joseph learned all that happiness stuff anyway? Probably Doctor Phil. Or perhaps he has the entire Tony Robbins collection? Maybe he’s read The Art of Happiness a few times. Oh, I know; he must be a subscriber to medotcom. How else could he do it? Surely he can’t just be happy right? Of course not. Probably has a great therapist. Anyway, he doesn’t make enough money or own enough stuff to be truly happy does he? Maybe someone needs to have a talk with him to tell him what he’s missing out on – he mustn’t realise. Perhaps I’ll tell him later….

    Or not.

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    Blending in.

    So, as you can imagine I have been using my entire Fijian vocabulary at every opportunity. I’m sure they are suitably impressed with my proficiency in their native tongue. In fact, at a quick glimpse I’m sure I could be mistaken for one of the locals. Were it not for my gigantic white body, my shaved head, my complete lack of cool-ness and my hideous accent, I would blend right in with the local population.

    “Bula”, I say to my new friends.

    Which is code for “I’m a stupid huge white man, trying to fit in with you very cool gorgeous people.”

    To be honest, it’s probably not working. I think they know I’m from out of town. Not sure what gave it away. Could be the way I stare stupidly at their money as I try to figure out what I’m handing over every time I buy something, or it could have been my tireless and completely pointless quest to find some skim milk; they found this most amusing. Somehow I don’t think skim milk is near the top of most Fijian shopping lists. Or personal development books.

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    Big dumb white man.

    I was at the beach just before (which is about fifty feet from my room) and Greenpeace showed up to try to roll me back into the water. It was kind of embarrassing but at least it brought some much-needed attention to a good cause.
    Heavy sigh.

    However….

    While they seem to have nailed the hospitality and the friendliness things, there are one or two areas which could probably do with just a little tweaking. Not that I’d tell them – some of the lads are quite large. Let’s just say that an advanced driver training course probably wouldn’t go astray for some of the local taxi drivers. And while we’re on the transport thing, those thirty year-old Toyota taxis with more miles on them than the space shuttle don’t really enhance the ‘overall driving experience’ either. On the way from the airport to my hotel, I felt like I was an extra in Die Hard 8 and a very old Bruce Willis was my driver. Hopefully I can collect my fingernails from his dashboard on the return journey.

    Blokes in Skirts.

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      It may also take me a while to get my head around the notion of big muscular blokes wearing skirts. The guy who showed me to my room when I arrived at the hotel was six-three (187cm) easy, probably tipped the scales at a muscular 220lbs (100kgs) and was wearing a tan (is that a colour?) skirt. Gotta say I had no urge to let him know that in my country only the girls wear skirts. No urge at all. Especially as I’m not really sure how the health care thing works while I’m overseas.

      Seriously though, if I could frock up and look that cool, I would be known as Skirt-Boy from this day forth. Probably ain’t gonna happen though. Maybe I could start ‘skirting’ around the house and build myself up to a public debut over time.
      Or not.

      Anyway, enough about my cross-dressing debut (it must be the tropical heat) I best go and do what I came here to do. I’m up in fifteen minutes.

      “Hey Joseph, can I borrow that skirt of yours for an hour or so?”
      “Joseph… where are you going?”
      “Jo?”

      More by this author

      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on May 12, 2020

      Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

      Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

      Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

      Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. At times, I forgot that who I was wasn’t what I did. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can too.

      Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll look at what a fear of failure is, where it comes from, and how to overcome it so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

      What Is Fear of Failure?

      Fear causes you to avoid potentially harmful situations. Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

      What causes fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failure exists:

      • Patterns from childhood – Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules.This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.
      • Perfectionism – Perfectionism is often at the root of fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.
      • Over-personalization – The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]
      • False self-confidence – People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

      How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back from Suceeding

      Unhealthy Organization Culture

      Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

      Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable cock-ups and messes onto someone else. The rapid turnover as people rise high, then fall abruptly from grace. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

      Miss out Valuable Opportunities

      If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago. They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

      Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

      Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

      High Achievers Become Losers

      Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes makes it into a handicap. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major handicap.

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      Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

      Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

      The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect your butt, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

      If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

      The problems with ethical standards in major US corporations has, I believe, more to do with fear of failure among long-term high achievers than any criminal intent. Many of those guys at Enron and Arthur Andersen were supreme high-fliers, basking in the flattery of the media. Failure was an impossible prospect, worth doing just about anything to avoid.

      Loss of Creativity

      Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

      Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant. When you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the best and most creative solution.

      The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Get used to it. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity too.

      Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

      We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work and in life.

      How to Overcome the Fear of Failure (Step-By-Step)

      1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

      Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

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      Write down where you think the fear comes from and try to understand it as an outsider.

      If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

      Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

      2. Re-Frame Beliefs About Your Goal

      Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

      If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

      At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

      3. Learn to Think Positively

      In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

      Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

      Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

      Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

      If Disney and Jobs believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

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      It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

      4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

      Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

      Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

      5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

      There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

      It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.[9]

      For example, when you start a new business, there’s bound to be a learning curve. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

      6. Have a Backup Plan

      It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

      “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

      Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

      Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

      There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

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      7. Learn from Whatever Happens

      Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

      “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

      Ask yourself:

      • What did I learn?
      • How can I grow from this?
      • Did anything positive come from this situation?

      Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

      Final Thoughts

      Together we’ve learned what fear of failure is, and how it can have a crippling effect on our ability to achieve. This fear often stems from childhood, perfectionism, ego and over-personalization, and a lack of confidence.

      Luckily for us, there are plenty of ways to tackle this fear. We can start by figuring out where it comes from and re-framing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

      Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

      Failures can be blessings in disguise.

      Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and goals. Don’t allow fear to stand in your way.

      More Tips for Conquering Fear

      Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

      Reference

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