I imagine that the fear of failure has killed more dreams than all other fears combined. It is especially treacherous because it’s largely in your imagination. It can prevent you from even trying in the first place and that guarantees failure. When i hear people say that they cannot accomplish something, silently I think, “You sure can’t.” If you do not first get out of your head, you will never even try.
It’s interesting that very small children have no concept of failure. They could care less if they fail to do something. They just try again. There are no negative thoughts or emotions involved. They just keep on going. How else would they learn to walk or talk?
It doesn’t take long before children learn to fear the opinions of others. It’s usually around the time they start school. After that first day of school… Well, it was good while it lasted.
It is not entirely possible to recapture the mentality of a toddler, but we can try. The fear of failure doesn’t have to govern your life.
Consider these thoughts:
- Failure is temporary – unless you quit. Successful people are successful because they kept going. Sometimes they won, and sometimes they lost. Failure is just a temporary state that means nothing because it’s only temporary.
- Failure is common. You’ve failed at lots of things and managed to survive. Consider how many times you failed to walk or to talk well. Babies have constant failure. It is a part of the human condition. We realize that our approach did not work, we adjust, and we try again.
- Failure is educational. You can learn something from every single one of your failures. Failure makes you more knowledgeable and capable. The more you fail, the more you learn. I like to call it research.
- Others are far less concerned about your failure than you think. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do. A few people might notice your failure, but they quickly turn their attention back on themselves and their own life challenges.
So just feel free to fail as much as necessary. Fail enough and you’ll quickly see that no one relevant cares.
- Focus on how great it will be when you succeed. Instead of worrying about possible failure, consider possible success. Make yourself feel excited and positive about taking action. Expect greatness and push accordingly.
With high enough expectations, you’ll do just about anything without worrying about failure.
- Redirect your thoughts. Focus more on what you are doing and less on the outcome. Put your attention on what you’re doing. If a negative outcome isn’t going to cause any real harm, forget about the outcome. Stay focused on your actions or something positive. Thinking about failing will freeze you in your tracks. Bring yourself back to the present.
When I feel fear creeping in, I automatically know that I am too far in the future for my level of comfort, and I say, “ Let future Quan deal with that.”
- Failure to make a decision is in fact a decision. Taking action might be a little scary, but what will happen if you do nothing?
- What will you feel about failing to take action?
- What if you’re stuck in your current life for the next decade or more?
- Maybe taking a risk is far more attractive than remaining where you are.
We’ve all allowed the fear of failure to influence our decisions. We’ve allowed this fear to stop us from trying new things or taking risks.
Right now, I am thinking of a couple of fears that I need to push past. What are you going to do today that you’ve been afraid to try?