August 28, 2019

The Fear of F#cking Up

There I said it, I used the F word; publicly and professionally! Those who know me very well know that I find it a terribly appropriate word in our language that provides a good amount of colour. It is perhaps the most flexible word of our time, able to be used as a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb, an interjection and a conjunction! People of all ages relate to it. Sure it can be offensive to some, but it provides the collective with such a valued anchor to direct and relatable meaning.

Having dedicated myself to human behaviour observation in the pursuit of personal growth over the last few years- with clients, staff, colleagues and friends as my test observation bunnies shall we say - one thing has become fundamentally clear: we are having a crisis of procrastination caused by abject fear of not getting something right the first time. Or, as I like to call it, the Fear of F#cking Up or FOFU!

When did we become so worried by this? Is it a by-product of social media influencing the undercurrent of developing societal Narcissism? Is it because we feel our whole lives are on record and that there's no longer room for mistakes and learning? Is it due to an expectation we place on ourselves that we should just know, like everything?  That we no longer even try; just hang our heads and say I'm scared to give that a go? It's pretty damn close enough to being un-Australian! Our infamous reputation of being people who have a go, or more succinctly give it a red hot go, no matter the circumstances, is at complete juxtaposition to where many of us are finding ourselves frozen in distress, and powerless to proceed due to FOFU!  To quote Simon Sinek, "The future is only scary if we try to avoid it", and he has a point! Is FOFU an avoidance mechanism? Do I believe this is just an Aussie issue? Hell no! I'm sure this wave of FOFU has swept the globe and created bouts of procrastination grander than the Gangnam Style epidemic of 2012.

Our mental commentary has been trained in such a way that it now tells us that we are not good enough; that we cannot achieve something and we should just NOT try.

How did we get here, and more importantly how do we get past it?

Let's start by having a look at the interpretation of what F#ck Up means. Well, to put it bluntly it means to be a failure. To be an extreme disappointment and someone who makes foolish mistakes and doesn't learn from their experiences. To act carelessly, foolishly and/or incorrectly. Ergo, F#cking Up is the doing of these actions and the resultant outcomes.  Wowee that's some pretty loaded language isn't it! Kind of why I shortened it to FOFU lol it's a much nicer piece of pie to swallow right?! If nothing else, it's at least less aggressive. Yet that does not remove the sentiment that to f#ck up or be a f#ck up, is not a good thing. There are no messages in these statements which show a positive end outcome; a learned from said experiences and be a better person response. Just the finality you've achieved actually nothing, and ultimately made things worse.

The social calamity however is the interned tragedy that we as people are now too scared to try all the things we should, for fear of FOFU; and that then leaves us paralysed to growth ;we become the deer in the headlights, unable to move forward or backwards or at least to the side and say, whoops not a good time to cross the road! Lesson learnt, I'll try this crossing next time in daylight hours!  So if we cannot adapt, adjust and grow, decipher dangerous decisions from intelligent ones, where does that leave us? I hate to say it but um, really f#cked up?!? Uh huh, yup, that's exactly where we are.

Possibly the worst part of FOFU, is a) the lack of awareness that it exists and b) that you may be an offender of it! Once your eyes have been opened to FOFU, it's terribly difficult to un-see instances of it occurring everywhere.

Preventing FOFU

So now that I've opened your eyes to it, here are some ways you can prevent FOFU in your own life:

  • Learn to recognise those FOFU moments- think deer in the headlights
  • Ask yourself questions: is this a good decision for me? Yes/No and why?
  • What have I got to lose for not giving this a go?
  • Will I learn new skills?
  • What are the most negative outcomes possible here?
  • What are the positive outcomes and where could these potentially lead me?
  • How can I avoid this situation in the future?
  • Even though this is a challenge for me, how can I grow?
  • Regularly seek constructive feedback from peers and managers as to where you may need to upskill and how you could approach that.
  • Develop a strong sense of self- know yourself, recognise your triggers, challenge yourself and be aware when you might be having FOFU and thus holding yourself back.
  • Keep a FOFU chart and every time you overcome a FOFU give yourself a reward.
  • Find yourself a FOFU accountability partner to help each other overcome your FOFU's.

Let's take FOFU and flip it on it's head and make it something that does not prevent you from having the most amazing life experiences and becoming the best version of self that you can be.

If you find yourself having FOFU moments when it comes to your business, we can help with our Helix Approach!


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