Friday, February 4, 2011

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

I'm standing in a bleached out studio with a hospital gurney in the corner, dressed in a Guantanamo style orange boiler suit. Right in front of me is Charlie Brooker barking interrogation at me whilst 2 cameras capture it all for posterity. How did I get here? What on earth am I doing? Questions that spark through my fear filled synapses as I hope this is all some kind of Kafkaesque nightmare and any minute I will awake from uneasy dream. But I don't, it's real, it's happening and I know why I am here. I'm here because I wanted to be afraid, to be challenged - to have that sweet and sour nervosa feeling in my stomach and step out of my comfort zone.

I wanted to shake myself up in a bid not to be complacent, to not settle into comfortable shoes. One of my mentors told me that if you don't feel a bit afraid in what you do everyday, you're doing something wrong. I'm a control freak and I had no control, it made me feel alive.

Why am I telling you this? Because it's important to embrace the fear of doing something different, it's how we evolve and change, it's integral to innovation. Fear often arises out of change and we're having to change a lot recently, so I would expect and understand as we go through those changes for people to fear doing things differently or fearing some of the unknown consequences of our actions, this is an essential part of change. The key is recognising it and embracing it. Using it to keep pushing and challenging the conventional norm.

It is an essential component to learning as adults, when we are children we are not afraid to try and fail. This is the essence of how we learn so much in a short period, trial, error, modify and it is only as we age we are taught to fear getting it wrong which inhibits our ability to evolve, change or innovate.

I say all of this because I know we're all having to throw ourselves into the deep-end of new things and start swimming quite rapidly, it's scary at times and there are elements that are unknown for all, we have to learn together how we overcome those obstacles and help each other out when we each individually feel the unease of trying out new practices.

All the recent education debates have centred on intelligence and "brightness" IQ alone is not going to be enough, this is where Michael Gove is wrong in his traditional view of education. We need to look at EI (Emotional Intelligence) and AQ (adversity quotient which indicates how agile and acceptable you are to change). I see this as a core component to our long term development as an agile society. I think about the application of this in my own workplace and for those we create learning media for.

This is not a one off event though, I see change as a constant and important element in an agile workplace and will want to see us explore this through the many ways we work and communicate. The key is that everybody is involved in that process, that everybody contributes and that everybody embraces the fear together. We're on a mountain climbing expedition and we have to climb up and over some overhangs and help others across ravines, but the view at the top as a shared experience is something to behold.

Back in that studio I was suddenly asked "what scares you the most?" and in the pressure cooker of the moment I had no time to reflect, analyse or debate my answer, I had to be honest with unhindered clarity - "Michael Gove, he looks like Pob"

The interview should be appearing at some point in Charlie Brooker's new series "How TV Ruined My Life"

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