Nobody likes to feel like a failure. Yet, failure is a part of life. It hurts, it stings, we feel ashamed and inadequate, we are afraid of it (and so we don’t try)… but overcoming fear of failure is the single best hurdle you can clear on your way to a truly fabulous life.
There is no reason to fear failure! A failure is “a lack of success.” That’s all. Your reaction to the lack of success is what determines just how fearful of failure you will be.
Don’t believe it? Read on!
Most people associate negative feelings with failure and when they perceive they have failed, they simply give up, often just shy of success. To many, failure equates with personal defeat. It’s ironic, then, that the old saying “try, try again” is such a part of our daily vocabulary! How can this be? How can we urge others to soldier on and persevere, when we ourselves throw in the towel?
What does failure mean to you? You might be surprised that failure is a subjective concept. A dismal failure to one person is just “another day at the office” for another. What causes depression and paralyzed inaction in one person lights a fire under another and spurs him to greater effort. One person may see failure as the final nail in the coffin; and another sees it as just another scenic detour. How you see failure will determine your ultimate success – it’s either going to knock you down, or you’ll use it as a tool.
Your reaction (quit, or try another way) is a decision. So is your decision to call something a failure or a lesson. If your goal is important to you, your decision will hopefully be to persevere and try another approach. But if the goal isn’t that important, you may find all sorts of ways to rationalize why you quit.
Here’s another concept: highly successful people have been known to gain everything and lose everything, succeed and fail, succeed and fail, again and again. So how can they be called “successful” if they have failed so many times? They are successful because they don’t allow themselves to be stopped. They do not see failure as defeat (especially not a personal defeat), and they never see a failure or setback as being permanent! They see the lessons in each “failure” as a lesson. Every time they fail, they analyze why, and that experience becomes a lesson. Learning turns every failure into something of immense value.
There’s a Zen saying that goes, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
After a while, you get so used to falling and getting up, that falling doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. The first time is scary; the first BIG failure is big-time scary. But if you pick yourself up, say, “wow, that was interesting” and take the lesson from the experience, realize that approach ‘A’ didn’t work but there are always alternative solutions, and apply what you’ve learned… You will succeed.
You will enjoy this great little anonymous quote circulating the Internet that speaks to the power of recognizing the lessons in failures: “If Plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool!”
How to Turn Your Fear of Failure Into Your Ally
Fear of failure is paralyzing for most people. Even now that you know failure is really ‘good’, it’s still hard to suffer even the momentary indignity of falling on your face.
Fear of failure represents fear of the unknown (“now what?”) and fear of being seen as “less than” others. That’s when the “what if” scenarios start popping up in the mind.
A little self-talk, guided by the Silva Method exercises, will help!
- Are you afraid of what “might” happen? Well, what if it doesn’t? Imagine the best-case scenario: visualize yourself taking Plan B into action and succeeding!
- Write down your fears, and all of the solutions you can think of immediately within a few minutes. Brainstorm. Write all ideas down, plausible or not. Just fire up the creativity in you! After all, you are writing down possible solutions to a possible scenario (a scenario that lives in your imagination). You’ll feel better right away knowing that you’re at least thinking of a solution – and then let it go, relax, and try the Silva Glass of Water exercise to allow a solution to come to you. http://www.silvamethodlife.com/all-you-need-is-a-glass-of-water/
- Remind yourself of all the times you DID succeed, especially those times that you had to persevere and try a couple of times. Revisit the fears you had in the beginning. One of them was fear of failure, wasn’t it? So what tipped the scales? What made you keep going? What’s the difference between your fear or failure then, and your fear of failure now?
- You are more likely to not fear failure if you are really passionate about and truly believe in your goal. If you live and breathe your goal, you KNOW you will achieve it, even if you take a couple of scenic detours along the way.
- Take action. Action makes you forget about those silly imagined failure scenarios. You’re too busy doing something to clutter your mind with that kind of nonsense!
Stay focused on what you want, and enjoy the journey – failures and all – and think about the fact that the more failures and setbacks you overcome, the sweeter the reward. Staying focused on what you want does not mean staring at the image of success – it means being focused on the many tiny steps you need to take to get there. Don’t focus on the prize, or the price (your time and effort)… focus on making the most of your time and effort, the forward steps and the backward steps, and have fun with it all! Think of your goal as your motivator. It’s the carrot. You may end up happier with the process of getting the carrot than with the achievement itself!