I don’t know about you, but I spent many years living and working in an environment where failing at anything was to be avoided – at all costs. Not surprising when you think about most education systems and work environments, where failing brings about feelings of shame, disappointment, and mediocre performance reviews.
It’s not surprising then that our brains are so hardwired to avoid failure – even to the point where we avoid doing anything that indicates a level of risk might be involved
This is what keeps most of us in the same jobs, the same cities, and the same relationships. The fear of failure is holding us back and keeping us stuck in a life that just feels – well – safe.
For those who allow their fear of failure to keep them right where they’re at, frozen in time, and miserable – what kind of life is that?
As an entrepreneur this has been one of the most challenging hurdles for me to get over. I have spent a lot of time talking to other entrepreneurs about it and researching it – to death.
Here’s what I’ve learned from these entrepreneurs – they look at failure as something to be respected, something that is inevitable, and more importantly something to learn from.
We all have a fear of failure – even the most successful entrepreneurs feel it.
So, what’s the difference?
The key difference is this – ACTION – plain and simple.
They know what they’re doing and, even more importantly, why they’re doing it – so they just get on with it.
What if they fail?
- They pause
- They lick their wounds
- They figure out what went wrong
- They learn
- They pivot
- They keep moving – creating, building, growing
If you’re waiting for your fear of failure to go away, you’re going to have a long wait.
When you want to make a change in your life, such as start a new business, you might feel excited about it at first – but then you might start to feel anxious and create thoughts in your mind that give form to a reality that doesn’t exist – usually one that involves the change being an unmitigated disaster.
This is when you have a choice. You can choose to believe these thoughts, stop where you’re at, and continue living your life believing that this is how it was meant to be – sad isn’t it?
How about an alternative reality?
Instead, I propose you first accept that the fear of failure is like all fears – in your mind – just your thoughts. These thoughts may feel as real as if they are actually happening – but the key thing here is they’re NOT actually happening.
How about a reality that involves ignoring those feelings and thoughts and just getting on with it – have a go!
What if it doesn’t turn out as you expected it would?
What if it turns out even better?
Failure is not about falling – it’s about learning.
Learning what not to do, learning what to do instead, and learning that it didn’t hurt half as much as you ‘thought’ or ‘feared’ it would.
In the words of Winston Churchill:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”