We are born with only two fears: a fear of loud noises, and a fear of falling. Yet as we go through life and experience more, many of those experiences become entrenched as fears. We start to fear failure, we fear pain, rejection, poverty, loss, ridicule, change and even success. But the interesting thing is that if we want to grow as individuals and transform our lives then we need to learn to embrace fear. Because if we don’t, we won’t be willing to try anything new or do things differently. And one of the first steps to achieving that is overcoming the fear of failure
While many people believe that failure is the opposite of success, it’s not true. Very few successes were achieved without a great deal of failure along the way. All you have to do is reference the lives of incredibly successful people in history to realise that truth.
Failure redefined as stepping stones to success
Michael Jordan is recognised as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, yet he is the first to admit his failures. He knows the stats. 26 times he was given the ball to take a match-winning shot and missed. He lost more than 300 games and missed more than 9000 shots in his career. But he never let any of that stop him, despite living under public scrutiny and criticism. He might be very aware of his failures but that’s certainly not what defines his legacy. He is remembered for his game winning plays. He achieved this legacy because he never let failure or a fear of failure stop him. Instead he used failures as stepping stones to success. Every failure for him was a learning experience.
Another famous person who used failure as a learning experience is Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. It’s said that it took him more than 10 000 attempts before he succeeded. History records him commenting that none of those attempts were failures, he’d simply learnt 9999 ways that didn’t work.
What these stories illustrate is that failure is only as real as you make it out to be. It is defined by your beliefs, and as we all know, beliefs can be changed. One of the reasons that we fear failure and change is because it requires us to step out of our comfort zone.
Failure or feedback
When you start to move beyond a fear of failure you can start to realise your potential. That’s when failure is no longer failure, instead it becomes feedback. Knowledge and lessons that can be built on to achieve a more constructive outcome. Taken another way, feedback is confirmation that you’re on the right path. And if not, gives you an opportunity to change direction and start afresh. These are positives. It’s those moments of clarity and insight that give you wisdom. You’ve gained experience and knowledge in the process, and that is very far from failing.
Stay safe or live life?
One of the reason that we fear change is that instinctively our minds want to keep us safe. Safe is what we know, safe is where we are. Out there things are different. It’s not safe, we don’t know how to do everything and there is so much beyond our capabilities. But that is not a bad thing. If we just take the first step and set aside that fear of change, we discover a world of possibilities. A world of knowledge and experiences that leave us richer and better equipped to face the challenges that may come our way.
Instead of stepping back and staying in your comfort zone when you feel the fear, why not use it as a gentle reminder that there is so much more out there to experience. You won’t get the benefit unless you move past the fear and look for the opportunity. Make fear your friend, a catalyst to a transformed life, and see where it can take you. Fail once, fail a thousand times and learn from it. It’s the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.
Don’t let fear hold you back.
If fear stops you from taking bold action, if it gets in the way of you making positive change in your life leaving you feel stagnant, frustrated, worn out - come and talk to me. Together we'll pinpoint what's causing this and help you make a plan for moving forward.