What are you scared of? 4 Real Reasons People Fear Success

Seriously. What are you scared of?

It’s a simple question that shocks people when I ask it.

I am a very positive and upbeat person. I really enjoy helping people succeed – in business and in their personal lives.  And, I am so fortunate that people trust me with their stories and helping them figure out pathways forward.

Recently, I have found that some of my most confident and successful friends are facing challenges and are getting stuck in ruts.

It’s not because they do not know what to do, it’s because they are holding themselves back.  When I ask all of the typical questions – What do you want to accomplish? What are the assets and tools that you have at your disposal to get to that goal? What’s missing? Who do you have on your ‘bus’? Are they the right people? Who needs to be with you? How are you going to convince them to take a seat? – They’ve got the answers.

Yet, something is holding them back.

They are struggling.

That’s when I ask, “What are you scared of?” The question has the effect of putting electrical panels to a person’s chest and shocking their heart. So simple, yet, it makes the person turn their focus inward. It’s not about external tactics. It’s about them. Makes them ponder what’s really happening.  Getting in touch with the core of their struggle.

My first inclination is to assume that they fear “failure”. Right? Make sense?  Don’t we all fear failure on some level?

If I had bet on it, I would have lost some money.

My friends and colleagues are NOT scared of failure.

It’s the polar opposite.

They fear “success”.

Crazy, right? Success.

I am not a certified therapist of any type, but I get this.

I’ve been there. On the edge of leaping into something that I knew would be successful. More times than not, I overcome the ‘fear of success’ and go ahead and jump… Make it happen. Get shit done.

Yet, I get it. I have had my moments where I relented to the instinct to push pause. Held back. Didn’t push forward even though every bone and muscle wants to move. I still shake my head when I think of those moments. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.

Why the sudden inertia forced on myself? How could the thought of ‘success’ immobilize me or any other person?

The reasons may be shocking. Based on my own experiences and what I’ve been able to glean from discussions with friends and colleagues, there are a few things… 

1. Scared of exposure

Success typically means that more people know about you. Know about your skills and abilities. Exposure is a blessing and curse. Your network expands; now, you’ve got connections to do even more! New opportunities surface and, it usually means an increased work load.

2. Scared of being promoted

Having a quantifiable success under your belt typically means that you are going to move up in an organization. If you are not prepared for this type of move up, it creates anxiety until you get the new lay of the land and really rock it out.

3. Scared of abandoning the baby

In many cases, this fear comes from being separated from work that they started. It’s their baby. They feel an obligation to care for it. However, if they succeed, they may get expanded responsibilities and their baby will be handed to someone else. That someone else may not nurture and care for the baby the way that the originator would’ve.

4. Scared of the lack of future success

What if I don’t have another successful idea or project? What if this is where I top out? I have found that the fear of not having another success stops people in their tracks. Many people would rather slow burn something then be seen as a spark or flame that burns hot and fast, but doesn’t sustain.

 

Many of my friends know that none of these fears hold water with me. Yes, I’ve been there. I let these fears influence me. I pushed pause. However, when I think of those moments, I regret not taking the leap. Getting out of my own way.

Life is uncertain. Believe in yourself. Don’t let the fears keep you from realizing your potential and achieving the success that is at your fingertips.

What are you really scared of?

 

 

TEDx Talk – WANTED: Intrapreneurs for Digital Health (2nd post)

Writing this TEDx Talk was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. I was speaking to an internal audience at my former employer, Eli Lilly. And, even though I am no longer with the company, there is still a soft spot in my heart for it. It is where I spent 14 wonderful years of my career doing awesome stuff, meeting and working with phenomenal people, and learning and growing my own skills and abilities.

I wanted to make sure that my TEDx Talk inspired every single person to tap their intrapreneurial selves, mobilize, and leverage all of the digital health technologies that are available to truly transform their businesses.

This is how I did it…

WANTED: Intrapreneurs for Digital Health

Have you ever sensed that you were on the pathway of being fired? Well, about mid-way through my career at Lilly, I sensed it.

Let’s just say that things weren’t copacetic with me and my boss. I really thought that I was on the verge of being escorted out.

And, the product that I was working on was decommissioned; this always happens in R&D, but it is still hard to cope with.

So, I felt that my choice was to leave Lilly or just find a job where I could lay low for awhile… and many of you know that I don’t lay low well.

A friend of mine suggested that I consider moving to a new division and she helped set up an interview.

It was a dreary rainy March afternoon. I was sitting by myself in the newly opened building 75.
My interviewer was late.

As soon as he arrived, he looks me straight in the eyes and said…
“I have done my diligence on you. I hear that you are a troublemaker and that you challenge authority. You are not always easy to work with, but you figure out how to get things done.”

Here, I am thinking… Is this an interview or am I getting fired? But then he turned it around…

“And, if you don’t continue to behave like this, then I don’t want you reporting to me.
Any questions? We good?”

And, that was it.

I honestly didn’t know what had just happened. I sat there stunned and wondering if he really meant it. Me?

Getting to do what I do and be accepted for it? That’s just crazy talk.

Even against some of my friend’s advice, I took the job.

He was true to his word…Intrapreneur

I worked with him for 5 glorious years. During that time, I came to own the fact that I am an ‘intrapreneur’.

No, that is not misspelled. Even though in Word, PowerPoint, and even in email a red squiggly line appears underneath it. It is Intrapreneur.

So, the big question is: Are you an Intrapreneur?

Are you an intrapreneur?If you answered, ‘yes’ to at least 3 of those questions… then this Talk is for you. If you answered, ‘no’, then I want you to come on a journey with me and try to find your inner-intrapreneur. Because I know that it is there…

Even though I do not have my Lilly badge anymore, I am one of Lilly’s and the pharma industries biggest fans. I have told people that I have bled the Lilly red – pantone 485. The promise of the types of innovations that you can bring to the market is so exciting!

And, I know, first hand, how hard it is to make change happen within these walls. To do things differently. I’ve had my head lopped off and my knees taken out many times. I have been told “no”, “never going to happen”, “not here at Lilly”.

I get it.

The pharma industry has a bit more responsibility than a start-up launching a photo application.

We work in a regulated environment. We have layers upon layers of SOPs and rules. We want to make sure that all risks are mitigated… People die or have bad side effects if our products are not used correctly or don’t work the way that we claim …

And, yet, we make people’s lives better through our innovations. We help survive horrible diseases and make people well. It’s pretty darn awesome.

What’s frustrating is when there are ripe opportunities to innovate, to streamline their business, and better connect or create better patient experiences, many times all I hear are the excuses why we should pass on those opportunities… hold back. Let others take the risk.

But, in this world, if you are not the one taking the risks, then the real risk is that you will not be in business in a few years. You will become obsolete. Non-competitive.

Now is the time to re-evaluate and realize the potential of all of the things that are happening in digital health.

So, what exactly is digital health?

Digital health is the intersection of health, wellness, and technology – it’s hardware devices + software + data in the sectors of health and pharmaceuticals …

Example…

Proteus. Proteus is an innovation where an RFID mechanism is embedded into a pill. Once the pill is consumed, the RFID is activated. Biometric data that is produced for the 30 minutes Proteusafter it is swallowed. How could this innovation influence the pharma sector – wouldn’t this allow for better tracking of patient adherence, both in clinical trials as well as in real life? Patients couldn’t cheat. We’d really know if they were taking their medicines… maybe our statisticians wouldn’t have so much ‘noise’ to work through… Plus, wouldn’t the biometric data help increase the understanding about how the drug is metabolized and processed by the body? Combine this data with genomic information, and would this help us to understand why some people are responders while others are not?

I could shower you with stats for digital health

Digital Health Stats

The thing is – it’s not about the idea of digital health. An idea is just an idea. Execution is the key to realizing the true value of an innovation.

And, it is going to take really smart business intrapreneurs to figure out how digital health opportunities can be realized in the pharma sector.

Why intrapreneurs? Because intrapreneurs know the business problem that needs to be solved and are willing to challenge the status quo to test new/different ways to solve the problem.

It’s not easy being an intrapreneur. But, I will gladly claim that business evolution and change happens only because of intrapreneurs. They are the secret sauce to effective organizations that evolve and change.

How do I know this? Well, I was so curious about this topic that I did my own research and documented my findings in an eBook: The Business Intrapreneur: Unsung Heroes of Corporate America.

Are you an intrapreneur?Now, I am going to share with you the 4 things that you need to do to be a successful intrapreneur. The first 3 are no brainers… :

1) Do their day job. Do it so well and without issue that when your approach your management with your digital health ideas, they don’t even flinch. You have a proven track record and they know that you will be able to handle your day job in addition to the other tasks/responsibilities. All of the people that I interviewed were high performers and had substantial internal personal equity within their organizations; they cashed in this equity to be able to innovate.

2) Invests in their ideas. Don’t just show up and say that you want to do something. Do your homework – has this idea been done before? Did it work? If so, do you want to repeat it? If not, how did it fail? Could you improve on it and make it happen? It may surprise some folks, but I always consulted with legal and regulatory advisors prior to embarking on a ‘thrill seeking’ project. I would do my homework. I would review all of the CFRs, ICHs, etc… and make sure that I understood the true boundaries that I needed to adhere too. Then, I’d outline what risks I thought I’d be taking and how I would be mitigating them. It made for more robust discussions and advice + creation of advocates for whatever I was trying to get off the ground

3) Connects with their tribes. Who are the people that ‘get’ what you want to do? Do you know people beyond your direct function? Beyond Lilly? How can they help provide input, support, or resources for the project that you are working towards?

It is the fourth item that is really intriguing:

4) Finds cover… This was an ‘a-ha’ for my research. All of the intrapreneurs that I found talked about ‘cover’ as being an essential element to their ability to operate as an intrapreneur, to innovate, and take risks… the same is true for my experiences at Lilly…

That interview that I told you about… well, He trusted me and my skills to push the boundaries. Take risks. He created a protective space for me to operate. He extended out his own reputation… for me! He’d pull me in when I may have been entering dangerous territories or pick me up and dust me off when I flat out failed.

“Cover” DOES matter.

So, Leaders, don’t just talk the talk about innovation.

Believe in your intrapreneurs, give them cover, unleash them to move this company forward.

The world around us is changing at warp speed. We cannot remain content with our current mindsets and the technologies that we are using. We need to innovation and move to the next business model… This will require strong intrapreneurs…

wantedIntrapreneursfordigitalhealthWANTED: Intrapreneurs for Digital Health

I know that many of you qualify…

So, when are you going to ‘inquire from within’ and fill this position?

TEDx Talk – The Opportunity and Journey

It is a bold statement, but I believe that TED Talks are transforming the way that we learn. They are bite size live presentations made at a TED or TEDx events. In less than 15 minutes, the speaker delivers their unique perspectives, challenges to conventional wisdom, and/or rock our worlds with science and technology innovations. These presentations are video taped and then released to the world to consume, share, and discuss. There’s a TED website, channel, apps… They have really found a way to ensure that this information gets out.

A few months ago, I received a short email from a friend at Eli Lilly, my former employer. It was titled, “greetings, have an opportunity for you”.Tedx Lilly

They invited me to be a speaker for the private and corporate-wide TEDx event that they were organizing. They wanted me to focus on “digital healthcare evolution.” My life is helping organizations seize the opportunities in digital health/technology, data, healthcare, pharmaceuticals in the midst of regulations and budget constraints… it was a no-brainer. Of course, I accepted the invitation to speak.

As I look back over the past few months leading up to the presentation, I am now very aware of what it takes to create a TED Talk. And, it ain’t easy. It’s a lot of work with some serious self-reflection. A lot. Quite honestly, when I accepted the invite, I was naïve and had no clue what I had just signed up to do.

I am a perfectionist. I work hard. My goal is to always deliver more than people expect. It is just who I am. But, working on this talk was like having an operating system always running in the background; I was thinking about my talk during client meetings, meals, before I went to bed, when I woke up, etc. I aspired to make the talk relevant, educational, entertaining, and inspiring.

I had an outline. I knew what I wanted to share. It felt good. I compiled some statistics and trends that are influencing the opportunities and impact of digital health.

Everything seemed to be in place…

Yet, about a month before the TEDx event, it hit me… They are giving me a huge opportunity to address the entire company. I realized that I wanted to say so much more. And, it didn’t involve a talk solely on digital health.

What I really wanted to talk about was how it is going to take every single employee to realize the opportunities that are before them, take “risks”, and truly transform the way that pharmaceutical products are developed and commercialized.  They needed to stop making excuses, tap their intrapreneurial skills and capabilities, and ‘do.’

During a prep call with one of the event organizers, I made the request to alter the focus of my talk. I could hear the hesitation in his voice, but he said that he would need to check and would get back with me. Fortunately, the next day he confirmed that I could slightly adjust the focus of my talk.

This is when the rubber hit the road. My new goal was to mobilize an intrapreneurial army from within Lilly towards digital health.

I only had a few weeks to get the message just right.

I titled the talk: WANTED: Intrapreneurs for Digital Health.

What did I include in my talk? Unfortunately, since this TEDx was a private event to only Lilly, my video won’t be available publicly on the TED channel. However, my promise is that my next post will share my TEDx materials with a summary of what I talked about.

The Innovation Conundrum

Corporate America is searching for the single answer that will solve all of its woes with regards to innovation. Yet, there is an obvious internal blind spot when it comes to innovation.

Innovation and innovative assets already exist within these companies, but they are underutilized or untapped for their potential.  The asset is their own employees that are true intrapreneurs.

So, what is an intrapreneur? These are unique employees that have some of the following characteristics. They:

  1. Believe in the mission and cause of the company
  2. Make sense of complex things to develop strategic, yet very concrete ideas that will transform the way that the company is doing its business.
  3. Develop and nurture a robust network – both within the company and outside the company spanning to the direct competitors and other industries and sectors.
  4. Get things done.

There’s no doubt about it, based on these traits, intrapreneurs are management’s dream of the ideal employee. Yet, intrapreneurs are rarely leveraged to help transform the company.

Instead, intrapreneurs are usually recognized as the ‘problem children’ by management (and HR).

Why?

Typically intrapreneurs are the employees are difficult to manage because they have a bigger perspective about the business, which generates ideas, and suggestions about how to do things differently. They push their direct line management to initiate new projects and work that may be in direct conflict with the status quo. They are considered ‘cage rattlers’ and ‘boat rockers’ because sometimes they lack patience and tack. They like to be involved in ‘new’ things; if their direct line management denies their ideas and requests, they will still pursue them through other internal channels. Even though they are being recognized as delivering on the projects for other teams and functions, there are times when intrapreneurs struggle to do their ‘boring’ job responsibilities.

So, instead of intrapreneurs being recognized for their abilities, they are usually ‘coached’ to be like everyone else and do their written job description. If they continue to show their intrapreneur characteristics, the result is demotions, firings, or the decision to leave for another company where their intrapreneurial traits are encouraged and recognized in a positive manner (in many cases, it is to a direct competitor) .

It’s a serious conundrum. Intrapreneurs are the employees that are out on a ledge and are not accepting of the status quo. They are willing to take risks and initiate projects that they believe will create a more promising future for the company. But, because most organizations struggle with innovation and change, the intrapreneurs create internal friction. So, companies and organizations that want to be innovative NEED these employees to do what they do. The challenge is to identify these intrapreneurs, channel their energy, drive for tangible results, and recognize them for the contributions that they make.

As many people know, I wholeheartedly believe that intrapreneurs are the key to true transformation of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. As such, I am an advocated for intrapreneurs and have invested time researching and learning about this particular employee population.

If you want to learn more about the intrapreneur research, findings, and detailed profiles, then check out the e-book, The Business Intrapreneur: Unsung Heroes of Corporate America (http://www.ebookit.com/books/0000001789/The-Business-Intrapreneur-Profiles-of-Unsung-Heroes-of-Corporate-America.html?LLblogpost ), add a comment to this blog post, or send me an email: keilenberg@lodestonelogic.com.

Disruptive Sparks of Innovation

Today, the en vogue and sexy term in pharma, healthcare, and technology is “disrupt”. Being “disruptive” will definitely help us move from the status quo of inefficient processes, expensive systems, under utilization of analytics to improve the quality of care and ultimately deliver patient outcomes.

But, the reality is that being disruptive means that there is something (eg a project or initiative) pushing against a pre-existing system and causing friction. And, friction causes heat. Heat causes fires. Fires, when uncontrolled, burn down houses and institutions. Just think of the video coverage of wild fires and it is easy to comprehend why most organizations enable and reward their employees to say ‘no’ to disruption, rather than ‘yes’.

To avoid wild fires organizations do a very good job creating sub-zero conditions that inhibit any kind of molecular reactions that may trigger a spark.  If you have ever tried to get support from your leadership or an organization to do something that is not the status quo, then you’ve probably felt the chill of a sub-zero environment: paperwork, committees, paperwork, 1:1 meetings, return on investment  (ROI) thresholds, review boards, etc… all are organizational tactics built to protect the organization and inhibit the creation of a spark.

Do not lose hope. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but when you know that you have one that will really make a difference, do something about it. And, this is what you need to do to create a warm pocket within your organization that will not only allow for a controlled spark of innovation, but also support a small flame to show people the possibilities of your ‘big idea’.

1. Earn the right to create the spark

Perform above expectations. No one is going to support someone who is unable to successful execute on their existing job and responsibilities. You have to figure out how to deliver 150% in your current role. Organizations and leaders are more likely to support zany and out-of-the-box ideas when it comes from an employee that has a solid performance track record.

2. Find an executive sponsor

You need someone to create a protective shield, also known as “cover”, for you and your idea. The sponsor needs to have sufficient power and credibility within your organization to be granted the freedom to support and advocate for ‘special projects.’ Just realize that, by supporting you, this person is extending their professional brand to you. If you succeed, they succeed. If you fail, then their reputation may be tarnished or negatively effected. Respect what this relationship means to you both.

3. Build an extended team of resources that include domain experts that advocate for the idea

Check the ego at the door. Know your limitations and seek out and befriend the people that will be able to help you tackle the toughest bits and pieces of the project. Your idea will only be executed if you get support from peers that are the domain experts. In most cases, you will not be able to secure them as full time resources, but you need to be able to call on them and tap their expertise. Make sure that you have access to true experts in public policy, privacy, legal (eg intellectual property), and regulatory. If you project goes wonky on any one of these items, your small flame could quickly turn into a wild fire and your ‘big idea’ turns into a career limiting opportunity.

4. Be honest and transparent

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. There will be days where you will not want to type another email or speak to another person. When you are working on projects and initiatives that ‘no one has ever done before’, you need to make sure that you are staying connected with the real world – your sponsor and your extended network of resources. Plus, it is in your idea’s best interest for you to invest in building the bridges to the organization and continue to generate support and advocacy. Adhere to your company’s communications policies, but get the word out internally and externally … the more that you share, the more likely your project will attract others that are interested in helping you make it succeed.

5. Take care of yourself

You’ve worked for months on the ‘big idea’ and you’ve hit umpteen walls and hurdles. The pressure is almost unbearable. You are burnt out and want to call it quits… but you are so close…. So, TAKE A BREAK. You need to get away from the mayhem. Go off the grid. Shut down the electronics. Or, at least don’t check work email. Do something that you love to do. Even if it is just for a half day, you need time to clear the brain. This mini-mental vacation will help you recharge your batteries, focus, and get back on task.

Navigating organization dynamics is always a challenge, especially when you want to change the status quo. However, following these five steps will not only help you to initiate a spark and small flame, in time you will generate a larger and more sustainable fire that is welcomed and encouraged by the organization.

You can do it!