Fearing Failure in Business
During a recent mastermind, some of us were discussing why people don’t want to succeed and I suggested that it was probably due to the fact that they might be fearing failure and did not know how to overcome their self-imposed barriers. This got me thinking…
Fearing Failure is a Choice!
Have the courage to fail big and stick around.
Make them wonder why you’re still laughing!
~ From the film Elizabethtown
There is a lot of wisdom in that statement. It isn’t so much that you want to prove to others that you’re strong in the face of adversity but rather, to me, it portrays an individual who understands that fearing failure is only a result of caring about the opinions of onlookers. In the vast configuration of things that really matter, what those people might think have nothing to do with your actual experience.
Children are inherently good at moving past failures because, in their youthful pursuit of life experiences, they have no idea what failure means. Like everything, children are taught that fearing failure is “normal” by some well-intentioned adult who explains the mechanics of failure and success.
Strictly speaking and in my opinion, you can only fail if you are comparing yourself to external standards that may or may not apply. Yes, this sounds a bit like double speak but please bear with me while I explain.
When we measure our success against another person’s accomplishments and find ourselves falling short of that mark, we are doing ourselves a disservice. What worked for them in their environment may have no bearing on what will work for you. Have you ever noticed the small print in advertisements and sales copy that informs us that results are not typical?
I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t surround yourself with people whom you admire and pursue the level of success apparent in their lifestyle. That is the premise of working with a mentor, after all. They have traveled the road that you wish to undertake and, if they are charging fees for mentoring, they have *hopefully* learned something about the route that they can teach you. But, if you cannot immediately mirror that level of success, please don’t let it slow you down or stop you!
In my mind’s eye, any effort to do something that one has never done before cannot ever be considered a failure. Fearing failure has potential to stifle your creativity as you imagine ways to proceed with your plans. If things do not turn out as expected, that is not a failure either. Remember, goals are only intended to measure progress. If you have to regroup or reset your goals, that is NOT a failure.
Who says you have to have it all together by a certain age? In my early 50s, I threw away the success model my parents prescribed and started all over again because I discovered that what was true for them was not bearing out to be true for me. You can read how to avoid fearing failure here.
Fail Forward, Fast
I can’t help finding analogies in the behavior of children when I think of this topic. Children pick themselves up from a fall and keep moving after their goal. If something hurts, they eventually learn to avoid it. The same is true for our businesses. Inexperience might cause a painful lesson or two along the way to your own definition of success but fearing failure can stop you from trying something new. It’s all about your attitude.
This is a link to a story about an 11-year old who understood the iterative process of succeeding. It is a pretty awesome video example.
In the video below, Brian Tracy gives some great advice for overcoming the fears that may be holding you back in your progress.