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You: From Another Perspective

You: From Another Perspective
    What They Really Think of You

    Do you ever wonder how you’re perceived by others? What kind of person they think you are? How they see you as a boss, employee, neighbour, friend, son, daughter, parent, leader, sporting team member, teacher, business partner, trainer or maybe even potential life partner? Do you think about the type of impression you’ve made on people over time (be that a brief or long time)? If they had to describe you to someone else, what might they say? Do they see you as selfish? Generous? Nasty? Kind? Arrogant? Humble? Sincere? Shallow? Funny? Intense? Generous? Greedy? Inspiring? Boring? Intimidating? Warm? Strong? Weak? Genuine? Fake? Talented? Creative?

    Do you ever wonder if the way ‘you see you’ (so to speak) is how others see you? Does it really matter? The answer to that question is yes and no. Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether it matters could depend on a couple of things:

    1. The situation. If you’re not sure what the guy who delivers your morning paper thinks of you, it probably doesn’t matter too much. Unless, of course, that guy is your brother.

    2. The potential consequences of not knowing. If (for example) you’re a coach and your athletes are not motivated, empowered or inspired by your coaching or communication style (and you happen to be unaware of the fact); that’s a problem. If you think your charges like and respect you but they don’t, well, it matters. It’s in your interest to know how your team really sees things (you) – not for your ego – but in order for you to be able to do your job effectively.

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    Your Reality and Their Reality

    If you’re trying to create a certain outcome at work (for example) and, in your mind (that is, your self-created reality), you see yourself as being a strong, powerful leader while those in your charge see you as being a self-important, power-tripping, egomaniac then, yes, it matters. You have a perception problem, an awareness problem and a communication issue. That is, your staff are not ‘getting’ what you believe you’re giving them. All too often, bosses see themselves as being strong, focused and assertive while (a percentage of) the people around them see them as intimidating, insensitive and unaware.

    Learning the Hard Way

    There have been numerous times over the last twenty-five years when what I believed I was ‘giving’ a person or group (motivation, direction, feedback), wasn’t what they felt they were ‘getting’ (intimidation, criticism). I’ve learned the hard way that even good intentions can create bad outcomes when I’m not in tune with my audience (team, group, client, etc.). I need to see the process (challenge, situation, problem) through their eyes and, more importantly, I need to see me through their eyes. Sounds weird I know, but trust me on it.

    In any meaningful relationship – be that personal or professional – it is important that we have a level of insight into, and, understanding of, how people perceive us. Not so that we might stress, worry and become (more) insecure about what people think (we already do that too much) but, rather, so that we might develop more empowered, meaningful, productive and enjoyable relationships. Greater connection. Better understanding. More effective communication.

    We can only make real progress with people when we begin to understand their (version of) reality. We don’t need to embrace it or agree with it, just understand it. And them.

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    Tuning In Our Awareness

    So, should we get all weird, anxious and paranoid about what people think of us? Of course not; that’s a negative, not a positive. And totally not what this lesson is about. But, what we should do is endeavour to become more aware and ‘in tune’ when it comes to the issue of how we’re perceived by the people in our world. The greater our awareness (of how others see us), the more effective we become (on a range of levels), the more connection we create (which means better understanding) and the less relationship and communication problems we’ll experience.

    Feedback for Me

    As a speaker, writer and some-time radio presenter, it’s part of my ‘job’ to have people tell me what they think of me. How they see me. What they think of my ideas, messages and ‘performances’. Sometimes that feedback comes via a phone call (or an SMS) from an abusive (or happy) radio listener – who feels compelled to tell me I’m an ignorant dickhead (or a genius). Sometimes it arrives in the form of a comment or email from a visitor to this site. Readers are constantly giving feedback on what I write (the subject matter), how I write (my writing style) and what they think of me (as a person). Some of the feedback makes me feel great, some… not so much. But all of it gives me insight into – and understanding of – how people perceive me.

    As a professional speaker, I usually receive a written ‘report’ from the organisation I have spoken for. This feedback is honest, direct, objective, anonymous (usually) and sometimes brutal. Sometimes glowing. What this kind of impartial, calculated feedback gives me is a clear picture of how I am perceived and received by my audiences – crucial (if not always comfortable) information for a speaker.

    Taking Discomfort to a New Level

    A few years ago, I took part in an event called a Speakers Showcase. One of the agencies I speak for (I am represented by a few) decided to hold the showcase at a local Casino. As I was new (on their books) they decided that I would be one of the eight speakers wheeled out to deliver a twenty minute ‘sample’ presentation for the would-be ‘buyers’ (for want of a better term) from various companies and organisations around Melbourne, Australia. The audience consisted of four hundred (or so) people whose sole job it was to evaluate me as a potential speaker for their conferences and professional development programs. They weren’t there to be educated, inspired or motivated by me. No, they were there to judge my performance.

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    But Wait, There’s More…

    I walked into the auditorium to do my thing and just when I thought I couldn’t be any less comfortable, I spied – what appeared to be – a table full of large(ish) remote controls. The ‘remote controls’ were handed to audience members and they turned out to be part of an electronic scoring system that allowed the ‘buyers’ to score me (across a range of criteria) as I spoke on stage. Let me tell you that it’s mildly(!) terrifying, distracting and disconcerting to watch people punching a ‘score’ into an electronic gizmo while you’re speaking to them.

    “You wanna know what people think of you Craig? Here’s four hundred opinions!”

    So the Big Question is:

    How do we become more aware of how people see us – not to be confused with obsessing (worrying) about what people think – in order to produce better results in our world? The answer is: consciously, intentionally and un-emotionally (that’s the tough bit). All the information is there, we just need to look for it and interpret it for what it is.

    What They’re Saying When They’re Not Speaking

    People are constantly telling us what they think and how they feel via their actions, behaviours, choices, reactions and body-language. The problem is we don’t pay attention. We don’t read the signs. We don’t ‘listen’ to the non-verbal stuff (which is the majority of communication). People’s physiology (facial expressions, eye contact, posture, hand movements, respiration and even perspiration levels) will usually tell us more than their words.

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    I’ve given the example before of the girl who buys her new car and chooses the special duco colour and wheels because she believes they will make her car unique. An hour later she leaves the dealership and within ten minutes she sees five cars exactly like hers! Why? Are there instantly more cars like hers on the road? Nope. The cars were always there but her awareness (of them) has changed. All of a sudden a switch has flicked and she’s now seeing what she didn’t before.

    So too it is with ‘reading’ people. When we go into familiar situations and environments with a totally different perspective, it’s amazing what we discover. You want to know what people really think? Pay attention.

    Warning: Don’t let your low self-esteem or propensity to find offence get in the way of the value in this message. Knowing how others see you or what they think of you should not come from a place of fear, insecurity or seeking approval but, rather, from a desire to create better connection, understanding and results in your world.

    And remember, I love you, even with your flaws.

    As always, love to hear your thoughts – even you long-time-lurking-non-commenting types!

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    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 November 5, 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. 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 also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

    What Is Fear of Failure?

    If you are afraid of failure, it will cause 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 a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing 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 a 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

    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 messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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    Miss out on 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 turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that 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 obstacle.

    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 they 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 yourself, 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.

    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 most creative solution.

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

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    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 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?

    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. Reframe 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 Positive

    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.

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

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

    It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. 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.

    How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

      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.

      For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. 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.

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      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.

      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.”

      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.

      For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

      Final Thoughts

      To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing 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 long-term goals.

      More Tips for Conquering Fear

      Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

      Reference

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