When I come across people and businesses who aren’t active on Twitter and Facebook, the primary reason seems to be uncertainty. When you’re not sure about a new medium, whether you’ll be good or successful at it, jumping on board can be an extremely scary prospect. I’m more than guilty of this myself – I had a lot of fear about starting this site because I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. I was scared of “failure,” of being judged, of being held accountable.

I attended the “Fear and the Art of Creation” panel at SXSW. Presented by Chris Guillebeau and Jonathan Fields, the panel discussed the primal fear that usually underlies our inaction, and the ways that moving from ideation to action can produce success.

Needless to say, Jonathan and Chris brought up a lot of valid points.

Here’s some of the takeaways:

  • Uncertainty and risk are essential to creating anything. If you go into (anything) thinking you know everything, you’ll miss something; you’ll miss a new opportunity. Being open to uncertainty allows for the potential to make things better.
  • Be specific. Know what you’re afraid of: Rejection? Not unique? Criticism? Being defined by mediocre outcome? Leaving the comfort of what you’re already doing? Losing your good name? Regret?
  • We have stories that we tell ourselves about what could happen. They’re often negative; they’re often produced out of fear.
  • REFRAME! For example, when a patient is being offered surgery, studies show that if they’re presented with, “there’s a 20% chance of death,” the person will decline the procedure. However, when they’re offered “80% chance of survival,” they said yes.
  • Every process begins with a hunch or idea. ACT. Anxiety and fear are anticipatory emotions. ACTION makes things real.
  • We’re hard-wired to be judged for taking action in the face of uncertainty and being wrong. The best way to learn is to act, seek feedback (and not to avoid that).
  • The first steps are always more important than the later ones. There always has to be risk of uncertainty in order to learn.
  • Permission: many feel like they need “permission” (from themselves, from others) to do something. You don’t need it. Think about asking different questions. For example, when you leave a good, yet unfulfilling job, and someone asks, “how could you leave?” Instead, think, “how could I stay for the next 40 years (if it’s not bringing me happiness)?”
  • “There’s no something from nothing without uncertainty and fear.”