May 21, 2008

What are you afraid of?

“I’m afraid of asking questions. I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of sharing my ideas. I’m afraid of what people might think. I’m afraid of what people might do. I’m afraid of the endless possibilities.”

May 15th was the deadline to contribute chapters for the Age of Conversation 2.0. As the date rapidly approached, we engaged in several discussions around the long table about the subject I was tasked with: A New Brand of Creative. The general idea we discussed here at Substance was, “why don’t people (agencies) get it? Why don’t they or why can’t they become a new brand of creative?” It came down to a few key points…

Change. This isn’t the way projects have been approached in the past.
Mistakes. Mistakes help in learning.
Sharing. It’s better to share information than to hoard information.
Listening. One method of communication is telling people something. It’s a different method to listen to what they have to say.

And as we discussed these points, one theme kept coming up: fear.

People in general say they like change. But this is when they can control change. When people aren’t in control of change (such as the changes in communication, technology, the world…), they fear this change. People are afraid of making mistakes, because they see mistakes as failures. People are afraid of sharing information because their competitors will do something with it. And people are afraid of what others might say or do by giving them a platform for feedback.

Even if you disagree, and I imagine people will, that’s fine. Disagreement generates discussion. In fact, the discussions that really get people talking are usually centered around change (changing ideas, changing minds, changing approaches), mistakes (sometimes we’re not right, but that won’t stop us from voicing our ideas and opinions), sharing (let’s put it out there and see what other people do with it), and listening (will try and be quiet now). And the biggest challenge is overcoming the fear that keeps us from changing, making mistakes, sharing and listening.

Oh, and love. Love plays a big part. We’ll let you know when the full book comes out; in the meantime, you can see what other people are writing about for Age of Conversation 2.0:

ps. Seems like fear and love are an ongoing theme here at Substance: /2008/02/14/i-choo-choo-choose-you/

and… I found the clip I’d been looking for!


  1. Donnie Darko agrees.

  2. This is a great discussion! I look forward to the book, do keep us posted. My favorite all time reminder of not letting fear of failure (or making mistakes, etc.) is the W&K wall, “Fail Harder.” I have to remind myself of that consistently.

    Stephen – I look forward to reading more of your posts and congrats on your Webvisionary Awards ! Kudos, man – Kudos!

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