HomeVOLUME 6June 2021The heartful innovator – part 6

In the previous articles, RAVI VENKATESAN outlined 4 key aspects of the “inner state” that we want to fine tune to become Heartful Innovators. He explored the role of the intellect, ego, mind, and awareness, and their transformation in enabling innovation.

In this article, he focuses on the single biggest barrier to innovation – fear and it’s associates, uncertainty and doubt. Collectively known as FUD, these factors have prevented or killed more innovations than anything else.

Disruptive Innovation through Inner Transformation

Almost always, innovation requires taking risk to achieve rewards. We are all “wired” differently and have different attitudes towards risk. There are two statements that have held true through the years:

1. “Where some see risk, others see opportunity.”

I’ve studied carefully the attributes of some of the most successful business leaders, and consistently I’ve seen them spot opportunities where others around them were seeing risk. A great example of this is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Prior leadership at Microsoft viewed the open-source software movement, exemplified by the operating system Linux, as the biggest risk to their business. Satya, on the other hand, viewed it as an opportunity to develop Microsoft’s Cloud business. Fast forward a few years and Satya ended up growing Microsoft’s cloud business to be a market leader, only behind Amazon. The cloud business also ended up being over a third of Microsoft’s revenues.

We know that taking risks is essential for reward.
We also see the best innovative leaders demonstrate
the ability to take risks where others may advise against it,
or the “wisdom of crowds” may be against it.

2. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

This statement is actually from Alexander Pope’s 18th century poem, An Essay on Criticism. One of the areas I find successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs achieve great success is by betting on projects and initiatives that don’t pass muster based on rigorous analysis. They require a certain leap of faith. They require using intuition more than analysis and facts.

While most people are risk averse beyond appropriate, there is also the opposite case of people who are “risk perverse.” Taking liberties with the English language, I define people who take uninformed and unreasonable risks that put their personal, family and business interests at risk as “risk perverse.” Gamblers are a great example. The classic case of a gambler who believes they need just one more bet to win back all their losses is well known.

We know that taking risks is essential for reward. We also see the best innovative leaders demonstrate the ability to take risks where others may advise against it, or the “wisdom of crowds” may be against it. We also know that there is a dark side to risk, and we have to be careful not to gamble. How do we strike that balance and how can the principles we have learned in the previous articles help us with this?


The best way to understand if you are not doing something because it is excessive risk or because of FUD is as follows:

1. Ensure that you are calm and centered. A disturbed mind will create a complex network of negative hypothetical scenarios that will never occur. One of the great ways to ensure you are centered is the Heartfulness practice of Cleaning. 

2. Form a positive hypothesis about what could happen. For example, let’s say you are in a really good job but now a new opportunity has come up. The new job could really take your career to the next level, but you are concerned about losing your current good job and landing up in a job that you don’t like. Start with a hypothesis that this new job will take your career further and you will really enjoy it. Talk to multiple people you trust and get opinions, and then apply your intuition. This type of approach will lead you to identify and counter FUD.

3. Make yourself a witness to your own mind’s working. This is a trick to raise the level of consciousness from which you operate. Of course, regular practice of meditation will help you do this more easily versus just attempting it when you need it. Doing this will provide you a clear view of whether you are letting yourself be a victim of FUD or getting ready to take the right level of risk to be innovative.

Over the next few weeks try to observe yourself as you encounter decision points. Are you taking the right risks or are you being paralyzed by FUD? I wish you success in applying the principles of being a Heartful Innovator, to identify and move past FUD, to take the right risks and create great outcomes.


Ravi Venkatesan

Ravi lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Cantaloupe. He is also a regular public speaker and public speaking coach. He has been a Heartfulness meditator for over 20 years and is passionate about applying meditation lessons to improve workplace relationships and productivity.


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