Nanovation has less to do with super intelligence, great genes, or creative illumination than it does with being fearless. Everyone is afraid of something. We are afraid of people who look, think, and act different from us. We’re afraid to suck—at anything. We’re afraid of ideas that are foreign, strange and weird. We’re afraid to tell it like it is because we are afraid to be challenged. Mostly, we’re afraid of making a mistake or being wrong, being rejected or being alone, losing control or looking foolish, and we are afraid of the embarrassment that usually comes with these things.

Consider two young children in art class playing with clay for the first time. One won’t pick up the clay for fear of being laughed at and ridiculed. The other is joyfully shaping and molding away, careless about what the world thinks of his lopsided candy dish. Both kids are creative, but fear inhibits the first child’s imagination and stunts his creativity.

Face the Fear and Keep Going
This is an important character virtue since fear is an integral part of Nanovation. Radical innovation almost always involves doing something untried, unproven and unknown. When you pursue a creative idea that takes you way beyond what anyone thinks you are capable of, fear temps you to make agreements with the doubt that antagonizes you. But if you push through fear and doubt, you often arrive at something that has truly never been done before.

If it isn’t scary is it really creative?

Nanovation is about discovery.
You can’t discover if you’re not willing to risk.

Ratan Tata has risked often and often times he has risked big. Undoubtedly this has forced him to deal with fear. But with each big risk it was always about serving people, advancing the company, or building the nation. In other words, his passion for the bigger “yes” clearly stood on the other side of the chasm (leap of faith) calling him to step through his fears. But it didn’t happen all at once. One bold move led to another and then another. And, with each new risk the pipeline of self-confidence expanded.

Exploration is about adventure and adventures are often dangerous. The Nano project was an adventure wrought with danger: public ridicule, escalating materials costs, flooded land, and political unrest. Nanovators aren’t more courageous than everyone else; they’ve simply found more reasons to step through their fears and into the adventure. Their ambition to make a dent in the universe intensifies their desires to control the fears that stand in the way.

Resilience also comes from not attaching yourself to the success or failure of a project too closely. Nanovators are certainly passionate about the projects they pursue, but they don’t let the success or failure of those projects define them as human beings. In other words, they aren’t weighed down by guilt and shame when they don’t succeed. Instead, Nanovators draw meaning from failure by applying the lessons it teaches to grow and get better.

Success and failure are not end points. Success is something you earn over and over again, and failure is an opportunity to begin again.

Man has never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.

Bern Williams