In his book Tribes, Seth Godin refers to the “Peter Principle.” This Principle, proposed by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, says that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Godin proposes a paraphrase, namely that “in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.” He encourages leaders to be aware of this fear, and tells us exactly what we’re afraid of: not failure, but criticism.
When you put yourself out there (by making a product, or writing a blog) you definitely open yourself up to criticism. When I was in high school, I remember being terrified by it. There were certain classes that I dreaded because I knew the teacher would call on me and I would have to go to the board to work a problem or answer a question. I might make a mistake. And people might laugh, and then I’d look stupid. It’s a scary feeling.
A few years ago I came across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m an anxious person by nature, so I find lots of things scary almost every day! Just putting myself out there by talking on my Facebook page or Tweeting or posting here can be scary. Intentionally seeking those things may seem crazy, but it occurs to me that facing scary things every day makes it easier. It becomes a little less scary. Maybe if you do it every day, you never reach that place where you’re “paralyzed with fear?” I wonder what I might accomplish if I never did reach that level?
What do you think? Have you ever felt afraid to fail at something? Are you more afraid of criticism? How do you get past it? Please share your thoughts!