Overcoming A Fear of Failure
Overcoming a Fear of Failure
5 Tips to Banish Self Doubt
| Doubt Kills more dreams that failure does.
If you asked me two or three years ago to provide my greatest fear in one word, before you completed your sentence I would have nearly shouted “FAILURE”. To be truthful, I viewed my fear of failure as something to be proud of. I thought the hallmark of a passionate and dedicated indivdual was someone who would do everything in their power to prevent failure. GOOD LORD JESUS was I incorrect. So SO incorrect. Knowing what I know now, just typing that sentence makes me want to violently shake my 19 year old self. It wasn’t until I was in a moment of reflection after graduating college that I realized how wrong my thinking really was. It stems from passion, a desire for success that failure to many is the largest deterrent of action. It wasn’t until I looked back at some choices I made in college, that I realized that my fear of failure was much deeper than my fear of spiders or dead fish (this is a story for another time, haha). And it became evident that it was certainly nothing to be proud of. To this day I wonder if my actions (or lack thereof) that stemmed from my fear of failure kept me from achieving more. I had to ask myself: “what have I missed out on because of this fear?” “Where would I be if I had taken the risk?” And I made a promise to myself to work to overcome this so I never had to wonder again.
Today, I mostly operate with a more risk-friendly “ask for forgiveness, not for permission” policy, but as I mentioned above, it was not always that way. So I wanted to share some ways that I moved through my fear of failure in hopes that you too can unleash the freedom that is moving through the world without hesitation.
1. Truly Define Failure
Goals are meant to be fluid. As you move toward whatever your goal may be, changing your milestones to reflect a learning experience rather than a failure will help to eliminate your fear. Rather than setting a hard and fast goal for yourself, make the goal inevitable attainable. For example: rather than setting a goal of 10k Instagram followers by the end of the year or $50,000 in revenue for the quarter, set your goals as learning how to grow your following or tactics for a successful product launch. This way, no matter how many followers you obtain or revenue you generate, you didn’t truly “fail”.
2. Failure is Integral
A phrase that has stuck with me through my albeit short career so far, is that there is no failure, only feedback. And if there is one thing that is necessary to personal and professional learning and growth, it’s feedback. Constructive criticism is an excellent teacher but so is the flaming wreckage of a boat filled with your hard work. It is the most important and greatest educator. The more you fail, the more risk you take, the more chances and the greater the odds to succeed.
One of the hardest lessons I have learned specifically in my professional career, is that I am not above failure. It WILL happen. Often times a roadblock or hiccup is confused with failure. And that frequently comes from a self-entitled and unlrealistic delusion that we cannot possibly fail. We do our best to coast on positive thinking and a “speak it into existence” mentality. This only does yourself a grave injustice. Problems will arise and barriers will be encountered, but if you have the expectation of an inevitable barricade, it will appear far less catastrophic. Courses will change and the journey to the final destination may double back on itself 20 times before arrival. And just as with driving an unfamiliar highway, you have to be able to look far enough ahead to anticipate an upcoming curve. This is no different. Be light on your feet and crawl through the dirty trenches with confidence.
4. It’s Only Temporary
When setbacks arise, it can feel so permanent. But it isn’t. The amount of time you spend in the valley is completely up to you. How you react to this setback is directly proportional to how long you will stay there. Accept, learn and place one foot in front of the other. Failure (and learning from it) molds you, shapes you into a stronger version of yourself.
5. Remember, It’s Not Personal
This was (and actually still is) the absolutely toughest pieces for me. This is one I still work through every single day. When we encounter failure there is a tendency to emblazon that on our personal permanent record. We treat the experience or obstacle as a defining stitch of our individual fabric. And that is not at all the case. Instead, separate the facts from your personal perception. Not landing that contract or missing your growth numbers absolutely does not mean that all the naysayers were right and your passion/project/money spent/time given was useless. Not even a little. Hear me sis...it has NOTHING to do with you being good enough. Nothing.
Overcoming the fear of failure is still a work in progress for me. I have mostly mastered this concept, but there are still many days that I dodge, duck or outright avoid a task because of my hang up with making a mistake. It is a long road and I’m a work in progress, but the freedom I have knowing that the only limitation I have is myself is like no other. Conquer your fears and make your magic!
Tell me: What are your fears and how did you/will you overcome them?
Love Loudly. Live Loudly.