Fear of Failure in Business and in Life
Here is how “Fear of failure” sounds in practice:
“ Am sure I can go out there and live me dreams, I can pursue that business, go pursue my dream career, go try to work on my relationships… I can even try to do some therapy on myself… maybe go drop some weight…
BUT “what if I put in all that time and energy and I fail; is that not going to be a huge waste?”
That’s how the fear of failure sounds.
Here is a thing about the fear of failure; it’s a very universal fear. All of us have it. I tend to assume that no matter how well developed you are personally, no matter how much work you did on yourself, you will always are going to have at least a pinch of the fear of failure if not a lot of it. I have it all the time. It’s natural if you are pursuing something big. When you are doing something that is out of your comfort zone and you are not sure if you are going to do it properly or not, you don’t know what’s going to happen in that situation.
Let’s say for example you have never started a business before and you go out there and start one, where you have no idea of what the in world you are doing. The fear of failure will inevitably happen. Not only will it happen but it’s going to happen a lot.
The thing is that you will have to start to recondition yourself and stop seeing failure as a bad thing. The assumption with most people is that failure is bad and somehow it’s going to set you back. And really the alternative to that whole model which is the most empowering thing about failure is to think about failure instead as a feedback mechanism that is enabling your success. Every time that you are failing means that is you learning new lessons, you are gaining valuable life referenced experiences, you have seen what doesn’t work therefore you can readjust, change or make corrections and then do the things that do work. So failure should be seen as a feedback mechanism.
Note that trial and error is a tried and true way of learning. That’s how you get good at something – it’s by trial and error. You are not going to be perfect ever if you are going through some ambitious career or start business or even try to loose some weight: you are not going to be perfect at those things unless you see failure as a learning opportunity.
A lot of the greatest people in history will tell you and it will shock you with just how many times they failed. Some very successful people have failed literally thousands of times. Of course we have got the classic Thompson Edison quote where he said that he tried more than a thousand different filaments for his light bulb before finally he found that one in the 1000 that actually worked therefore he got success. And you know what? He says that the other thousands of his attempts don’t matter because he was looking for just that one attempt that will work. And now we’ve got light bulbs. So this is more than just a clique. This is something that you really have to turn your mind on to. It is very important that you have to think about because you are going to have a lot failure to be successful.
You are never guaranteed that you are going to succeed on your first attempt, in fact you should never really expect that. Nowadays, as am going into something, I expect to fail dozens; maybe hundreds of times. I don’t know how many times I have failed at every given task. It should have been hundreds of times by now but the only important thing is that I keep going, am consistent with it. So read biographies of successful people because it will start to reframe your mind. Because you will see you that the most successful people were actually some of the people with multiple bankruptcy, relationship problems, horrible business problems, money problems, consistent problems with their businesses, they have failed, failed and failed again and again. They have had so much failures that to every normal person should have given up but that person continues and finally they just break through. They just got success through brute force. That’s what you’ve got to take on as a mindset.
Don’t forget that life gives you multiple attempts, so whatever you are going into right now, there is a tendency to think that “this is the most important thing right now for me: cause it is what am doing today…it’s more important than anything I have done in the past… I have to succeed at this… if I don’t succeed at this then my whole world is going to end”. If you look back into your own life you will see that actually the world and life doesn’t end even if you fail: it’s okay, you can recover from that stuff, you get a second ,third, fourth attempt at getting it right… the really dangerous thing is to sit back and be so afraid of failure that you don’t even try anything, that’s much more dangerous than failing again and again.
You are going to learn lessons as you are failing and you’ve got to start thinking about this in a short term versus long term basis. If you are looking at the picture in the short term, then sure that if over the next year your business fails, or if you are having failure and problems in your relationship and career or with your health that’s a bad thing. But in the long term if you zoom out and you take a look at a five or ten year period you will see that every attempt you are making and failing (whether in your career, your relationships, your fitness, etc.) is improving you. it’s making you stronger, its making you wiser, you are seeing what the challenges are , you are seeing what the pit falls are so that you don’t do those in the future. I failed multiple times at quitting smoking, I used to be a nicotine addict my whole life until finally, I really learnt the lesson from all those failures and I applied it to my hundredth attempt and by that I was able to quit and keep going for close to 10 years. The same works with business, addiction, relationship and virtually every area of life. So become a long term thinker not a short term thinker. Zoom out with your perspective, be looking at 5 or 10 or 20 years down the road rather than 1 month or 1 year down the road which most people tend to do. It’s very hard to fail in a long term if you’ve got a very strong vision and you are living up to your values. By this I mean that you know what your values are and you are very clear about them and you are just constantly hammering away at that vision.
That’s why I encourage you to live a passionate life. That’s because I know that the best way to minimize your chances of failure. When you are committed to something, when you know it is important to you and you are pounding your way at it, something is going to give in and eventually success is going to come from that. One way or the other you have to have that faith and confidence in yourself that it’s going to break through for you regardless of how many times you fail.
So do not let the fear of failure bully you around. Always opted for more action versus inaction. I hope this helps.
Photo Credit: http://www.movingmindsets.com.au/failure-key-success-sarah-godfrey/