Motivation and Support Part 1 — Having a Go


There is a much more significant and more insidious cause for failure, and that’s our self-defeating thoughts bought on by fear of not meeting expectations. You can see it in people’s eyes when you give them a task that they do not feel confident about. They have learned that failure, not meeting what’s expected, can have negative consequences or in extreme cases, be punished.

The consequences can be humiliation, no further work allocation of the type just tried, no promotion or not being given a second chance to take on something new or significant. Only negative, resounding thoughts about their lack of ability and possibly their job being at risk resounds in their head.

Fear of failure is probably one of the main reasons why we prefer to numb ourselves through inaction rather than move forward. Sometimes we are so afraid of letting ourselves down or letting others down or disappointing them that the opinions of others dominate us to the point of paralysis. Other times it is a deep-seated feeling of unworthiness that makes us question our abilities.

Succeeding or failing is not the issue; what is the issue is ‘having a go’. The following technique, when used with people you are getting to know or to whom you are giving a difficult task that they have no experience or knowledge of works well. It is the ‘hand’ technique.

Hand Technique

It works like this; explain the task, what you think the outcome may look like and then deliberately place your hand about 10 centimeters’ above your desk and say “what’s important here is having a go. I don’t care if you only achieve this much (then raise your hand a bit higher) or you achieve this much, what I care about is your agreeing to have a go at this task please, I am not interested in what you achieve.”

The hand technique is very good at removing the anxiety about their ability to do the task and what your expectation of the outcome might be.

Finish up by saying “please come back at any time if you need help.” Tell them it’s your job to help. This technique is remarkably successful, especially as people get to know you and what you expect of them.

Just having a go, giving it a try is what it’s all about.

Originally published at on August 14, 2020.



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Russell Futcher

Russell Futcher


IT Change Management, High-Performance Management and Teams Specialist, Leadership Development, Team Building, Author