Education & Career Trends: 3 Fears that are Silent Killers of Innovation

4 min read

Edition: March 2, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Fears and anxieties can derail our innovation dreams. (Image Credit: GETTY)

There are two kinds of leaders in today’s world: those who disrupt and those who get disrupted. Obviously, most of us want to be the former. We want to make the world better. And we want to write the rules.

We want to see our dreams realised, and not let our fears prevent us from achieving what we believe deep in our hearts we’re capable of. But aspiring innovators face obstacles, some of which are easy to see and predict and plan for, and others that are much more pernicious and debilitating.

These barriers are silent killers, because they operate much the same way as high blood pressure, which shows no overt symptoms before a massive heart attack strikes.

Silent killers are powerful human fears and anxieties that derail our dreams of becoming future innovators and respected leaders.

Here are 3 fears that act as silent killers of innovation:

1. Fear of looking like an idiot.

  • Sometimes when we step into an innovative new role or a position of leadership, we question our own qualifications.
  • We become overwhelmed with anxiety and what some psychologists call the imposter syndrome
  • This can be immobilising because we are afraid to act and to speak up.
  • We are guilt-stricken and full of shame because we feel we are out of our league, or somehow don’t deserve to be where we are.
  • Courage is in speaking up and taking action, even when we’re not yet experts or certain how others will respond. 

2. Fear of failure.

  • Sometimes this fear can be so paralysing that it freezes us into a permanent state of inaction.
  • By definition, innovators and disrupters craft something that is totally new.
  • But there’s no guarantee others will accept the creation; it may be rejected altogether, or it may just never find success. 
  • The hard truth is if we’re not failing, every once in a while, it means we’re not pushing boundaries.
  • Innovators routinely get out of their comfort zones.
  • They know failure is part of the innovation process. Innovators are far more afraid of getting stuck in routines and never trying new things.
  • To them, stagnation is a conscious decision. Escaping their zone of familiarity opens them up to a new world of amazing possibilities.

3. Fear of responsibility.

To be aware of responsibility is to be aware of creating one’s own self, destiny, and life predicament.

Victor Frankl, in 1977
  • If we are able to achieve a high level of self-consciousness, we must also be aware of our own pain and suffering that comes with added responsibility.
  • The weight of the world is on the innovator who willingly assumes new responsibility.
  • Often innovators and entrepreneurs start brand-new companies with employees who believe deeply in the mission. The founder is responsible for every employee.
  • To cope with the added stress and anxiety that is part and parcel of responsibility, innovators need to create their own support system from scratch and find ways to self-soothe. 
  • To help you cope with the stress of being a full-time student and a hard-working entrepreneur you can create your own personal network of coaches, advisors, and friends who helped her discuss and analyse personal challenges and anxieties.

Getting these fears out in the open, and recognising that we’re not alone will be a great start.


Have you checked out the yesterday’s blog yet?

Education & Career Trends: 3 Ways To Become More Assertive


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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