Fear of Failure – and How to Overcome It

A AW

PART I

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

 

People are more afraid of failure than anything else. Given the tools to confront it can turn your fear of failure into a determination to achieve success.

It’s easy once you know how. If you can understand the following, it will be a lot easier to make this change work for you.

One of the biggest roadblocks to success is actually just the fear of failure, because that’s ten times worse than actual failure because it condemns you to a life of unrealized and wasted potential.

The first thing to do is to identify the things that are holding you back, the hurdles if you like. Once you’ve done this, then you should visualize them and in your creative imagination, kick them down one by one. Every one.

Imagine every obstacle coming down with a crash. Jump over the wreckage as if they were hurdles on a running track. Jump right over them. All of them.

This visualistation will start you on the road to success.

You will find it a lot easier to concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time. Take a look at what’s not working in your life, and choose one big or one small goal to work on every day. You may not achieve everything all at once, but by giving yourself somewhere to start, you’ll ay least be on your way!

Confront your fear! Fear is not a monster or a dangerous wild animal. Your fear only exists in your imagination – it’s not going to turn around and physically harm you!

Whether it’s taking up a hobby to meet new people or banish the fear of speaking in public, you can break up your fears into small steps.

With each step you take you will begin to face, embrace, and eventually, erase the fear of failing, leading you towards your longer-term goal.

Write down your fear, and then flush it down the loo or take it outside and burn it.

We all tend to be too abstract about our fears, and are too often unaware of what exactly is ultimately holding us back.

When you write down your fear – the very thing that scares you the most – it becomes more tangible and easier to deal with.

By burning your fear (and watching it burn) or flushing it down the loo, you are taking ownership of the fear and destroying its hold on you.

Always be accountable to yourself first before holding yourself accountable to others. It’s about time you started thinking about Number One for a change!

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Lots of people have to do that!

Always remember, you are not alone! There are thousands of people pursuing similar goals and who have similar doubts and fears.

Positive feedback from friends and family can encourage you along the road to success.

The Beatles were rejected the first time they auditioned for a record deal!

If it’s worth achieving, then it will require effort on a daily basis, so persistence is all-important.

Despite many of us failing the first time around, knocking on the same door will be important to long-term success.

Look at how others have achieved similar goals.

Learning about how other people got through their own personal failures can inspire you to tackle your own head on.

Telling yourself that it’s too late to achieve a goal, or giving in to the fear of failure, is like abandoning yourself on a desert island after steering yourself there on purpose.

Don’t let the fear overpower you. It’s never too late to face your fears and inch closer to your goals. It just takes time.

When you do fail (and we all do) it’s only human.

It has, and always will be okay to fail and be afraid of what might come next. Welcome it with open arms, instead of letting it overcome your life. You’ve just learned another way of how not to do it.

It’s also okay to change your mind and pursue something else.

Get yourself together and get ready to start again. Who knows? You might even find something you love more.

Never listen to people who are negative about your ideas. The world is full of jealousy and envy. Psychologists agree that being a bit of a nerd or a dreamer (Silicon Valley is full of them) can make you more creative and better at selling your ideas to others.

Steve Jobs was known for creating one of the most successful companies in the world (and for swearing at his employees.) However, it was his assertiveness and his unflinching belief in himself that helped him become a success.

People like Steve Jobs became successful because the pushed their ideas. Yes, they are pushy and sometimes rude, but they get their ideas heard! It is especially important to understand that other people will be pushy too.

People who think they’re more creative are not actually more creative. Some people have an inflated sense of self-esteem but all that means is that they have total confidence their ideas are better than anyone else’s. Yes, they are irritating, but to hell with them. You have a voice too… Use it!

Don’t be afraid of speaking out to get your ideas heard!

People who are self-centred, even narcissistic, conniving, back-stabbing psychopaths also harbour their own doubts and fears. The only advantage they have is that they can talk louder and are more combative. They want to get what they want, no matter who they have to step on to get it!

They’re so focussed on getting what they want, they can turn on the charm like a tap. Well, guess what… they’re just acting – and you can too! It’s true that those with headstrong personalities are more successful -it’s because they know what they want and are good at devising strategies to get it.

But that doesn’t mean that they are unpleasant people – generally speaking, they’re not – they’re just determined. Being pushy or rude does not mean you’re more creative, it just means that you have a better chance of getting your ideas heard.

However, it’s important to know that that nice people, those who are perhaps not as headstrong or self-centred, are more receptive to new ideas and new ways of thinking and particularly to positive feedback.

Most important of all, doing something you love is always the best choice.

By immersing yourself in your passions you’ll open up your mind to more opportunities for success. 

 

PART II

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

  

Certain people in certain popular books claim you can achieve success by focusing on achieving the end goal. Bad news I’m afraid – people who follow this advice fail far more often than those who optimistically focus on the individual and separate steps of how to get there.

Admittedly, the consequences of failure can be severe, but in the real world you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and start all over again! It took Thomas Edison 1,000 tries to develop a light bulb that actually worked. When someone asked him how it felt to fail a thousand times, he said, “I didn’t fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with a thousand steps.”

It’s this attitude that separates the successes from the failures. J. K. Rowling’s manuscript for Harry Potter was only accepted after twelve publishers rejected it, and even then she was only paid a nominal advance. Oprah Winfrey lost her job as a Baltimore news anchor for becoming too emotionally involved in her stories, a quality that was later to become her trademark. Henry Ford lost his financial backers twice before he was able to produce a workable prototype of an automobile. The list is almost endless.

Setbacks aren’t failures, so whatever happens, don’t get discouraged. The actions you take in the face of failure are critical to your ability to recover from it and have huge implications for how others view you and your mistakes.

There are several things you can do when you fail that will enable you to succeed in the future and allow others to see you positively in spite of your failure. Here is a step by step breakdown:

Always break bad news yourself.

If you’ve made a mistake, it is inevitable that people will find out about it. If someone else points out your failure, then one failure turns into two because trying to hush things up just makes people wonder why you didn’t say something, and believe me – they’re going to attribute this to incompetence or shame.

Offer explanations, but don’t make excuses.

Taking ownership of your mistakes will actually enhance your image – it shows confidence, accountability, and integrity. Be sure however to stick to the facts. “I lost the contract because I missed the deadline” is a reason. “I lost the contract because the dog ate my homework” is an excuse.

Have a plan for fixing things.

What you do next is critical. Don’t wait for things to come right on their own (they won’t) offer your own solutions. It’s even better if you can list the specific steps you’ve already taken to get things back on track.

Have a plan for prevention.

You should also have a plan to avoid making the same mistake again. That’s the best way to reassure everyone you’re well and truly back on track.

Get back to it ASAP!

Don’t let failure make you timid – that’s a very negative mind-set – it’s not only counter productive, it’s exhausting. By all means, take enough time to learn the lesson, but as soon as you’ve done it, get right back out there and get going. Don’t dither about – this only prolongs negative thinking and increases the chances of losing your nerve.

Your attitude is just as important as the actions you take.

Using failure to your advantage requires resilience and strength, both hallmarks of emotional intelligence. If you fail, there are three things to bear in mind:

Keep Your Perspective – the most important part of handling failure. Things are never as bad as they seem. Engaging in some logical thought will help.

Stay Optimistic – a vital emotion if you intend bounce back. One British study of more than 500 serial entrepreneurs found that they were much more likely to expect success than entrepreneurs who gave up after their first failure. See each failure as a building block to ultimate success. Remember Edison!

Practice Persistence – Persistence is optimism in action. When others quit and go home, persistent people shake off those failures and keep going. Persistent people always succeed because their optimism never dies. This makes them adept at recovering from failure.

Bringing It All Together.

Failure is a product of your perspective. What one person considers a crushing blow, another will see as a minor setback. The beauty of this philosophy is you can change how you see failure and use it to your advantage.

Finally, the most important piece of advice of all:

Never put off until tomorrow something you can (and should) do today! 

Copyright Andrew Newton 2016. All rights reserved.