Sep 10

Overcome your fear

In every project team there is something that rears its nasty head and starts biting people. It is something knows as fear. It has many faces. There is fear of failure, fair of change or fear of management and the fear of the unknown. There is fear for under-achievement and over-achievement. The fear of loosing control or getting control and believe it or not there is even the fear of success.

It is often said that in order to move on you have to face your fears. So in order to do so let us have a closer look at some of these fears and how to deal with them.

Fears of failure
Nobody likes to make mistakes. It is something that is thought to us from kindergarten. You need to win and mistakes are bad. Draw within the lines and be better then the rest. But in order to learn and grow we need to make mistakes. If you are afraid of making errors you will never take real risks and in doing so you never overcome them and evolve. you need errors in order to grow so embrace them when they occur and learn from them.

Fears of change
There is a nice saying. You don’t drown by jumping in the water. You drown if you stay there. Change is something you need. Nobody wants to do the same thing over and over again. You need to turnaround sometimes and try new things. In agile you often stop, inspect, adapt and move on. If things are stuck give it a good poke and change what does not work.

Fears of management
Nice one this one. The fear of the manager or the customer who wants everything yesterday. Often this fear is unnecessary. You can overcome this one simply by looking and listening what is needed and how to deliver it as efficient and valuable as possible. If models like scrum and kanban are implemented correctly, all the safeguards should be there to protect you and your team and to deliver on business value. If the value is clear, nobody should bother you or the team.

Fears of under-achievement
I think everyone is afraid to not live up to expectations. You can deal with this in two ways. You can try to do and give your best and let everybody see it. Yes, the fear of failure might pop up its ugly head. But you can also hide it. and act as if you do understand and work hard. Fortunately it is very hard to keep things like this hidden in a transparent en open environment like you get with agile. So the only way to deal with this fear is simply let it show. Let people know that you don’t know and need more assistance or knowledge. Share the pain and ask for help.

Fear of over-achievement
If you are successful you might need to stay successful. You need to keep up with the pace that you have set for yourself. But is that so bad? Is it bad to give yourself or your team a challenge everyday? If you have removed the fear of failing or under-achievement then this is something that should be a lot of fun. Go there, grow and learn but do it as a team. Nobody likes a one man show-off.

Fears of loosing control
Yes. A lot of people who start to work with an agile model fear that they loose control. Managers don’t manage anymore and individuals have to go with the team spirit and dynamics. It is often said that agile removes every single point of control. But is that bad? The control is spread and is run by a more then one. Control has to do with overview and transparency. The control you have with agile is more than you ever had before. But you must realize something. Control is not the same as managing stuff.

Fears of success
If you where able to eliminate al the fear above then this one shouldn’t be a big one. To much success can damage you, but when the team shares it you have nothing to worry about. You want to be successful but in order to do so you must overcome fear and make it part of your everyday work.

Once you have overcome all your fears there is nothing left to do than tackle all the challenges when they cross your path day by day. In agile there is a way to measure happiness, with the happiness metric why not also put a fear factor on your scrum wall. The trick is to remove fear. But before you can do this, you have to make it visible. Write it down and as a team find out what you need to do to get it dealt with. Try to remove a fear within every sprint. Fear is a mind killer. When you have the agile manifesto as a mindset, you should be able to overcome your fears.

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat that causes animals to move quickly away from the location of the perceived threat, and sometimes hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it but in extreme cases of fear a freeze or paralysis response is possible.

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