Fear of Failure

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What would you do if you knew you would not fail? I’m sure you’ve heard that infamous question by Robert H. Schuller. But have you ever really thought about it and answered it? I have and also asked many clients that question. What I always discover when I ask others and myself that question is that fear of failure is a huge deterrent from trying new things and taking leaps of faith (which I wrote about in last week’s blog post ).

Failure is such a strong word. I failed. You failed. It was a failure. I’m a failure. Sounds awful! Not only it is a strong word but also conveys such powerful feelings. Wikepedia says that it is “the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success”. Maybe that fact that it is viewed as the opposite of success is what makes it hold so much power over us. If I don’t succeed, then I am a failure. But is that really true? Just because you do not meet a desired or intended objective, have you really failed? Or have you perhaps been detoured to take a better more meaningful path? Of course, as with most things in life, it’s all in the way you look at it but the purpose of this blog post is to get you thinking about the things that your fear of failure keeps you from doing.

People fear making career changes because they are afraid they will fail; they fear starting the new business because, what if it fails? They fear making life changes (leaving bad relationships, starting a new workout plan, training for a marathon, going back to school) because, what happens if I fail? Well…what happens? That’s the real question to answer. So what if you don’t meet your intended goal? What does that mean? Does it make you less of the person you are? No, it doesn’t and chances are you won’t die or starve if you don’t meet the intended goal. That’s why I love the question ‘what would you do if you knew you could not fail?’ I know what you’d do. You’d start the training plan or new workout regimen. You’d leave the bad relationship or go back to school or start the business. You’d do all these things in a heartbeat. How do I know this? Because I’ve asked the question hundreds of times and always get the same answers.

Yet, the fear (which, is really False Evidence Appearing Real) will stop you and keep you stuck. It always does; unless you decide to do one of two things: you can face the fear, move through it and towards what you’re being pulled to do. Or, you can reframe what failure really means by asking yourself my favorite follow-on question to “but what if I fail?” And that question is: “So what if I do…?”

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