Monday, February 11, 2013

Lessons from TEDxAustin 2013 on fear and failure

Update 2/18: I added links to videos on YouTube

Last weekend I attended TEDxAustin 2013. It was held on Saturday, February 9 at the Circuit of the Americas facility, the home of Austin's new Formula 1 race track. This was my third event to attend and it lived up to my expectations from past experiences. If you haven't been to a TED related event, the best way to see what it is all about is to watch some of the videos from previous events here.


The event delivered tons of new ideas for me to think about: music, presentations, art, speakers, food, technology, event production, culture, networking, and much more. It is all very overwhelming, and it is hard to choose a favorite talk or individual topic to share. Instead, I am reflecting on the theme for the event - Fearless.

My biggest takeaways for the day:
  • Don't fear failure. Embrace it. It is required for progress.
  • Aspire for greatness and don't let fear get in the way of your dreams.
  • Rather than letting fear cripple you, face it head on.

Why Fearless?

I can't think of a better theme for a TEDx event. Nothing grips us and prevents us from realizing our dreams more than fear. Here are some ways that speakers at the event inspired me to overcome fear in different ways.
  • Faith Dickey shared her experience as a world record slakliner. She has no lizard brain. See the photos and videos on her website. She is fearless! (Watch here)
  • Jia Jiang told the story of his experience facing his fear of rejection. Rather than letting his fear control him, he faced it head on and learned to embrace rejection. (Watch here)
  • Darden Smith sang and told a story about doing what you love, without the fear of where the world might take you or who you might turn out to be. (Watch here)
  • Robyn Metcalfe described how curiosity drove her to ignore fear. She raced across four deserts with RacingThePlanet: Gobi, Sahara, Atacama, and Antarctica - http://www.4deserts.com/ (Watch here)
  • Byron Reese described how people often come up with excuses why they gave up on their childhood dreams of greatness due to fear of failure. Byron has held on to the childhood vision of himself as a great person, and he is still striving to change the the world. (Watch here)
I have been thinking about fear quite a bit lately. Here's a link to some of my most recent thoughts - LeaderThoughtship: Fear.

My conclusion for now is that fear is one of the strongest and most impactful emotions that separates us from greatness. It is rooted in our lizard brains as a survival mechanism, but when we overcome our fear we can achieve great things. We can all survive a long life of safety and mediocrity, but to truely live up to our potential for greatness we must overcome our fears.