The fear of failure is a silent epidemic. What starts off as the fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, often leads to the grander “fear of failure” that paralyzes many from taking the steps and necessary risks towards achieving great success and fulfillment. Many of us already know the countless insights on the topic, yet may still become blocked or anxious in “moments of truth” when getting it right is really important:
A client solution. A key work decision. A new business project. An important conversation. An advice we give to a loved one. A belief that guides our way of being.
This next series of articles is dedicated to closely examining these fears, this form of emotional and personal sabotage, and identifying proven ways to get past them.
Let’s first look at what it means “to be wrong”.
In essence, it is not getting the results you expected based on a specific set of decisions and actions. Without analyzing the many kinds of mistakes that can be made, one thing usually stands: you are not the only one controlling the outcome.
There are so many elements that determine a result – it is rarely one action that makes or breaks everything. To believe that we should be able to control 100% of the factors involved is not only unreasonable but sabotaging.
Sometimes you do your very best, study and prepare all the details, but in the end it just doesn’t work out. We have all been there. Sometimes you make a mistake because you didn’t do the necessary work and as a result, now you know what needs to be done. Other times, you become so “certain” of your way of looking at things and you act in line with those beliefs, only to find later that there was more at hand.
Regardless of the situation, one thing is key: you cannot become successful without making mistakes.
You cannot learn without being wrong.
You cannot innovate without being wrong.
You cannot get GREAT without being wrong.
It is as true as death and taxes.
You just have to look to those who have attained true greatness to see that behind them is an even longer list of failures.
But more importantly, sometimes the very mistake presents the road to an even greater solution. Other times the mistake is the solution to a whole different problem.
Being wrong – when managed well – can motivate us to much deeper exploration, understanding and learning, than getting it right. But a great fear of failure can block you from continually looking for the right solution. And if you internalize the mistake too much, it can haunt you for a long time, preventing further progress.
But here is another thing: almost everyone has fears. Even great fears.
The key is not to be fearless – this is almost inhuman – it is to accept and face the fear, and ACT ANYWAY.
So how do YOU define failure?
In the next posts I will share with you my definition.
We will also look closely at each one of the following key concerns that drive this fear and explore strategies for how to move past them:
- “How will I fix the mistake?”
- “Will I be able to recover from the mistake?”
- “People will reject and ridicule me for making the mistake.”
For some great additional resources on the topic:
And keep flying!