I have been reading a fascinating book on how to approach entrepreneurship. The title is 'Little bets' and the author Peter Sims. The main thesis is that breakthrough ideas most often originate from small discoveries, i.e. innovation can be guided through methodical experiments.
In one of my favourite bits, the author cites reasearch according to which effort-based encouragement is a lot more effective than talent-based encouragement. The former drives measured risk taking and the right mental attitude towards challenges. The latter, on the contrary, ego preservation.
If effort is what counts, the actual new task is not that important, no matter how daunting. However, if the focus lies on talent and excelling, every new challenge can easily be perceived as a threat. Lowering the adoption of new risks (living in the confort zone) is thus a much more natural course of action.
Focusing on personality types, Sims builds a ranking with Michael Jordan sitting at one end and John McEnroe at the other. Jordan was a risk taker, thriving for continuous improvement throughout his career (his all career shooting average was significantly better than during his first four years, is one example provided). McEnroe, on the other hand, was an undoubted talent, one the greatest, but he easily lost his balance when faced with difficulty. His tendency to blame others is read by Sims as a good example of the wrong way to go about things.
The good news is that apparently having the correct relationship with risk taking is a skill that can be gradually learnt. So don't lose hope on becoming an effort-focused and continuously-improving innovation champion, even if you don't see a Michael Jordan --or a mere Javier Villarroya... :)-- when you look at the mirror.