The courage to innovate

Being an innovator takes courage, confidence and conviction. You are a guerrilla fighter waging war against the status quo, vested interests and corporate bureaucracy that have sophisticated defenses against intruders that seek to threaten their cash flow, culture and business models. You are fighting for the hearts and minds of patient customers ,payers, providers and non-users alike and will need to overcome your fears, willing to sacrifice and do the hard work. But, would you push someone who is afraid of flying into an airplane?

Here are some tips on how to overcome your fear of failure. You can also try these tips to overcome your other fears. What will you do today that scares you?

Here is how to overcome your fear of making mistakes.

Attachment theory might help explain your fears and help you find a safe place to confront them.

Entrepreneurship, the pursuit of opportunity with uncontrolled, scarce resources has its goal the creation of user defined value through the deployment of innovation. Entrepreneurs confront the unknown with not just a mindset, and entrepreneurial habits but with courage based in their hearts. The very act of entrepreneurship involves embracing uncertainty. often living in darkness. After all , the English word for courage is connected to the heart, coming from the Latin word cor, which means heart.

Courage. Encourage. Two words, same origin. Heart. You gotta have heart. Miles and miles and miles of it. There’s no bravery or boldness without heart. There’s no spirit or support without heart. There’s no sacrifice or soul without heart. Nothing great ever gets done without heart. You gotta have heart.

And at the heart of leadership is caring. Without caring, leadership has no purpose. And without showing others that you care and what you care about, other people won’t care about what you say or what you know. As a relationship, leadership requires a connection between leaders and their constituents over matters, in the simplest sense, of the heart. It is personal and it is interpersonal.

But, to get stuff done, you need to have the power to do it. Feldman writes that according to French and Raven (1959), and later Raven (1974), there are six bases of social power:

  1. Reward Power
  2. Coercive Power
  3. Referent Power
  4. Legitimate Power
  5. Expert Power
  6. Informational Power

Author and psycotherapist Estelle Frankel offers some perspective on confronting and accepting the unknown in her book, The Wisdom of Not Knowing. There are many similarities between the spiritual lexicon and the entrepreneurial one, for example, walking through the valley of death, going to the dark side, embracing the journey instead of the destination and having faith in how failure in one thing will open the doors to success in another.

Frankel further notes that the basis of creativity is often suspending your concepts of reality and entering the unknown as if in a dream or mindful state. For example, did you know that the brain scans of jazz musicians during improvisational work resemble those found during deep states of REM sleep?

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted that, “In the end, two emotions drive the decisions we make: love and fear. Everything else is a manifestation of one or the other, Murthy said. Love manifests itself as generosity, kindness and compassion. Fear shows itself in jealousy, anger and rage. “When fear drives our decisions, more often than not it tends to lead us to darker places. It tends to have negative impacts on our health and it tends to drive us apart, separate us and isolate us,” he said. “When love is driving our decisions, and informing our interactions with each other, it tends to be nourishing, it tends to be good not only for our health but it also builds that connection, that cohesion in society that we ultimately need.”. Drive out fear. Do something every day that scares you.

Here are some lessons from the cowardly lion.

Confronting the uncertainties of customers, products and markets is child’s play compared to having the courage to confront your inner demons or the ultimate uncertainty, death. And yet, do it you must if you are to have enough courage to live your life as an entrepreneur. Remember Steve Jobs at the Stanford graduation.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs and Co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship