There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. – Paulo Coelho

It’s the secret ingredient. It’s what, when all the other fundamentals are in place, will make the difference between success and failure, between being good and being great. If you currently have it, keep it that way, if you don’t, do what it takes to get it. By Charl Thom, MD, FoxP2

Faith47 – The Freedom Charter
Faith47 – The Freedom Charter

I’m talking about the liberation of your employees, your clients and your business, from fear. This is probably the single most important message I took away from my recent visit to the 58th Cannes Festival of Creativity. It also confirms what I have long believed to be the single biggest factor in creating great work in an advertising agency (or any other business for that matter).

Whether I was listening to Jeffrey Katzenberg, Founder or Dreamworks Animation Studios, or Dr Edward de Bono, the man credited with the invention of lateral thinking, I kept hearing and seeing the same thing in different ways. Liberation from fear makes you free and builds your business.

1)    The freedom to think big. There is an immense amount of poor thinking in the world. Just look around you. Point made. Work with a team and clients that are hungry to think big and in an environment that fosters big thinking. Be brave enough to part ways with the ones that don’t.

2)    The freedom to act. The relationship with your team and your clients need to be one where big thinking is encouraged and acted upon, not just spoken about. It would be too easy to only talk about it. Great creative work in an agency is going to require experimentation and taking risks and sometimes you will fail. In order for big thinking to truly become a part of the culture, there needs to be permission to fail, or the creative process will shift to a process of creating safety. An agency needs to be the environment where all this is made possible and South African agencies have what it takes to mix it up with the best in the world, if they are brave enough to embrace freedom from fear as part their culture.

3)    The freedom of financial stability. It’s all fine and well to take risks but one uncalculated risk can sink a business. Critical to creating an environment free of fear is to ensure that from day one a business operates in a manner that creates financial stability. Taking risks means sometimes you will fail and a business needs the financial stability to sustain it through that. Don’t be surprised though, if once you have achieved the financial stability to take risks free from fear, the rate of failure in a business declines.

Why is liberating a business from fear so difficult to achieve? Because more often than not you don’t destroy big thinking, or give in to fear, by making one big compromise. You do it by making a near endless series of seemingly minor compromises.

Live and breathe freedom from fear in every single decision and detail of your business no matter how small.

And next time you’re faced with a scary decision, think of what Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google considers to be the best advice ever given to him: “Try say Yes.”

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969

Reprinted from the blog of Charl Thom.


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