True confession, I just wanted to write something that included the use of FOMO to prove to my millennial kids that dad is in fact hip. So, my job is done. While we are here, however, there are some points that can be made. In the social context, FOMO is a pervasive worry that others are enjoying experiences that you are not. In business, FOMO is actually appropriate and valuable. Organizations and their leaders should possess a healthy degree of worry that their competitors, or worse yet, their customers are enjoying experiences that they are not. What I would be more fearful of are leaders who lack FOMO. We can call that FOLO-FOMO-fear of the lack of fear of missing out. Man, am I cool or what? #FOLO-FOMO
Organizations and their leaders should possess a healthy degree of worry that their competitors, or worse yet, their customers are enjoying experiences that they are not.
Leaders who suffer from a lack FOMO are comfortable, and that is a dangerous place to be. I know for me personally, I am always challenging myself to innovate, to create new processes or solutions that I can bring to my clients. I don't want to miss out on the latest thinking or shifts in the way business is being done. That fear keeps me hungry for information. It keeps the fire of curiosity burning, and without a doubt, it allows me to create new and beneficial things. But, I am wired as a worrier, and although that wiring causes a fair amount of angst, it does prevent me from ever entering the treacherous waters of the comfort zone.
For those leaders who aren't wired for worry, an absence of FOMO is a real risk. Many have track records of success, proven ways that have worked in the past, and a confidence in their product or service. I am sure that was the case for Sears. I can't imagine they suffered much from FOMO over what was taking place in the sleepy little town of Bentonville, Arkansas. I bet the leaders of the USPS weren't consumed with FOMO about what was being done by an entrepreneur in Memphis who had the crazy idea about delivering packages overnight. You get the point.
One of the key functions of any leader is to mitigate organizational risk. Yet, few leaders focus on the risk of FOMO not being present within themselves or the culture of the company. Complacency is a silent killer. You are unlikely to notice its existence until Walmart or FedEx have passed you by, and by then it is far too late.
Complacency is a silent killer
So how do you protect yourself and your company from the absence of FOMO? You feed it! Make sure to hold regular reviews of what is happening in the marketplace. Learn what your competitors are doing and who is new to the scene. Make sure to stay current on the changes in needs, wants and likes of your customers. Make it everybody's job to have FOMO.
On a beautiful day when you have your windows open and the noise comes pouring in, you know a sense of sudden silence when you close the windows. Well, the noise is still there, you have just put up a barrier. The same is true with complacency. The world with all of its cacophony is still taking place, you have just closed yourself off to it. What's worse is instead of that barrier insulating you from the noise and the supposed dangers that lurk within, it's actually keeping you from hearing and seeing opportunities that surround you. As the leader of your organization have FOLO-FOMO. Make sure your team has a true fear of missing out.
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Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group. He works to grow businesses and business leaders. He helps organizations tell their stories and build relationships with their customers. He helps leaders better connect and communicate with those whom they lead, and serves as a thinking partner to executives and their teams.
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