Fear and failure

Last weekend I did the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. I spoke at TED.


And I spoke about capitalism rather than saving the world (that doesn’t always go down well with a TED audience).


To cap it all, Chris Anderson was in the audience watching!


Just so you know how irrational I became the night before, I thought I heard someone breaking into my house at 3am. My first thought wasn’t about jumping out of bed or calling the police.


It was, “Here’s a great excuse to evade speaking at TED!” It was just some noise outside, nothing to worry about. Damn.


Throughout the whole week leading up to TED, two questions pounded around in my head.


The two questions


What am I so scared of? Why am I putting myself through this?


I think the answers represent an internal struggle that dictates most of my big decisions.


Why run a massive music festival for youth suicide when I was at university? Why set up my own music company rather than take much more money working for someone else?


After eight years, why did I throw in Scorpio – a successful, profitable company – to launch a start-up, and why did I spend my house deposit on the domain name!


Two things drive me to be successful, fulfilled and miserable all at once. They propel me to take massive risks and then spend the rest of the time sweating to make things work.


These are my internal drivers. I’m not writing about them because I think they should be aspired to – it’s just something I’ve noticed about myself and the way I’m wired, and I wanted to write it down.


I’m sure we all have aspects of these drivers at play; it’s interesting to consider what yours are, how they effect the decisions you make and the general happiness created by the outcomes.


The fear of failure


I was terrified that I would mess up my TED talk, or that the audience would boo me off stage. Every day, I’m terrified that my company won’t work out. Fearing failure is natural and for me it’s vital. It makes me work hard to make sure that I don’t fail!



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