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We are big basketball fans in our family, as both of my sons played competitively for many years.  One thing I’ve always admired about both boys is that they are very team oriented and will often pass the ball even when they are within what appears to be close proximity to the net.  While that stance and mindset has been really helpful in that neither of them subscribes to the “self as hero” mentality that can create a dependency upon one player to carry the whole team, it became clear recently that this supportiveness has limitations.

The coach took my son aside and told him that he has to start to score some points now. While he is getting better at defending and assisting, it’s time for him to “up his game” and he was counting on him for 10 points per game for the rest of this season. When the coach mentioned this to me, I shared that I sense he is somewhat afraid to take the shot in case he misses.

Cue the lightbulbs flashing…

Fear of failing can often stop ME from taking the shot!  And even when it doesn’t stop me, it sure can make me miserable. The resistance I felt recently when making a big shift at work has been immense. What if it doesn’t work? What if the clients all go away? What if there isn’t enough work to keep us all busy? What if I can’t meet all of my financial obligations? An endless list of dramatic failure possibilities. The more I succumb to these fears, the easier it is to consider dropping the whole thing.

My son’s coach is wonderful. He told him that he wouldn’t be upset if he missed the shot, as long as he started to take the shots. Today I’m taking a page from his playbook: Up my game, take the shot; take the shot, up my game. Be willing to tolerate the fear of failing for the sake of something extraordinarily important to me. Colleagues and clients remind me that the effect this shift stands to create is that many more people would benefit from the powerful work we are doing. THAT feels worth risking failing for!

Oh by the way, shortly after this conversation with his coach, my son scored about 11 points in a game. Did he make every shot he took? No. But the confidence is growing exponentially with every attempt. I’m excited to see where he takes this.

What about you?  What would be worth risking failing for in your life, in your work?  Are you willing to take the shot?

Up your game! And we’ll keep upping ours!

About the Author: 

Shahmeen Sadiq is a Leadership Consultant and Professional Certified Coach who has been turning managers into effective leaders since 2005. She is the founder of Anjali Leadership, a boutique consulting firm headquartered in Toronto, and This Human Being, through which she mentors and develops leadership coaches and other human development professionals. She has been certifying, teaching and mentoring coaches in the use of The Leadership CircleTM instruments since 2008 and regularly serves as Executive Coach within the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. An award-winning coach and respected leader in her professional communities, she is known for bringing immense heart, spirit and acceptance of the tender experience of being human into every aspect of her work.

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