Are you afraid to fail? I hope you answered no to that question because the only way you are going to be successful in life is to first fail. I am not talking just in your career, but in all aspects of your life – your career, relationships, hobbies, whatever, you need to fail. Too many people are afraid of failing. They choose to avoid failure at all costs. While they may appear to be successful on the outside, they will never know what true success is. They will never get to experience it because they were too afraid to fail.
Why We Fear Failing
Why do we fear failure? Is it because we don’t like to admit to ourselves that we are flawed? That even though we think highly of ourselves, we don’t want to admit we are not perfect? Or do we just not like rejection and loss and as a result we choose to not try some things because we know the odds are we will fail?
Have you even been so scared of something you chose not to even try it? Or have you ever been in a situation where you decided not to do something because it would show that your efforts up to this point were not leading to success? If so, you are showing signs of fear of failure.
Here are 4 basic signs to know if you are afraid of failing:
- Self-sabotage: Do you procrastinate on some projects or don’t follow through on your goals?
- Self-doubt: Do you doubt your own abilities all of the time and don’t try new things?
- Self-esteem: Do you talk yourself out of things by saying “I’m not good enough”?
- Self-awareness: Are you a perfectionist who only does things you know you will succeed at doing?
The Importance of Failing
If you think about any great accomplishment in the history of mankind, it happened because the person or persons that accomplished it were not afraid to fail. I love lifting weights. Lifting heavier weights each time I go to the gym motivates me. I know I am getting stronger. There are times when I finish a set and decide to add more weight for my final set. Sometimes I am able to lift that extra weight. Sometimes I am not.
In either case, before I begin the lift, I have accepted that I might fail and not be able to lift the weight. If I was afraid of failing, I would just continue lifting the same weight I know I can lift, never pushing myself. Sure, I would be staying healthy by working out, but I could be that much healthier and stronger if I just pushed myself. To me, the benefits outweigh the risks.
We Grow Through Failing
By failing, we grow. We learn from our mistakes, make the necessary changes and keep moving forward. Thomas Edison failed to create the light bulb 1,000 times before getting it to work. Allegedly he said,
I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.
If he decided that he was afraid to fail, he never would have even attempted to create the light bulb. Who knows how much longer it would have been until someone else came along, who wasn’t afraid to fail, and created the light bulb.
How To Overcome Your Fear of Failure
So how do you get over your fear of failure? The first step to getting over a fear of failure is to simply change your perspective. Stop looking at failure as a negative thing, but as a positive thing. See it for what it is – a learning experience. By changing the idea of failure, you can make mistakes, learn from them, and grow as a person. Here are 5 more tips to help you overcome your fear:
- Ask Yourself A Question: Ask yourself “what am I really afraid of?”. Is it the unknown? Maybe you fear the embarrassment? If you can answer this question, you will be on your way to overcoming your fear.
- Analyze Outcomes: Many times we fear the unknown. Instead of focusing on that aspect of the issue, look at all of the potential outcomes. Doing this will lead you to stop looking at the unknown and fearing it. Simply list out all possible outcomes and see that there are many positive outcomes.
- Look At The Worst Case Scenario: Many times we fear the worst case scenario. Interestingly, the worst case scenario rarely happens. As with the tip above, look at all of the possible outcomes and then see which ones are most likely to occur and which ones are least likely.
- Think More Positively: When you think positively, you naturally look at all of the possible good outcomes rather than the 1 or 2 bad potential outcomes. When you look at the good outcomes, you will less likely be consumed by fear.
- Set Up A Contingency Plan: Make sure you address the possibility of failing. In the event you do fail, what will you do? How will you react? If you can have a plan in place should you fail, you will be able to pick up where you left off and keep moving forward. This will ease your fear of failing by showing you that failing is not the end.
To get over your fear of failing, you are going to have to ask yourself is whether you want to become a better person and have the greatest life you can imagine worth the risk of failing. If that is what you want, then you are going to have to accept failing. Not once or twice, but repeatedly, throughout the rest of your life. Here is a great quote from Jim Carrey, who gave the commencement speech to Maharishi University in 2014. He makes a great point about failing and taking chances in life:
So many of us chose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying: I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it.
My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.
I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
[Photo Credit: Feral78]
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