The fear of failure is a powerful force that will hinder you from chasing your dreams. It will handicap your potential. It will convince you to play it safe. It will tell you to stay where you are because if you move forward with your dream then you might fail. The fear of failure comes in different disguises to hinder your success.
The fear of failure’s voice
The fear of failure is the critical voice in your head saying things like: “You’ll never succeed, so why try? People will laugh at you.” Or “Just give up because you failed the last two times.” Fear will convince you to listen to those voices and give up before you even start.
I know the voice of the fear of failure well. I listened to those for several years before I decided to write my first book, ‘Vision Impact’. I talked about, dreamed about and even told others that I wanted to write a book. But, it always remained on hold because I feared that no one would like it or read it.
The fear of failure became a constant drain. Every time I would start to write those internal fear voices would attack. They would remind me over and over again that my book would be a big failure. Instead of combating those fear voices with positivity I gave into their negativity. It got so bad that I stopped any writing activity for close to a year. I had let the fear of failure win.
The real failure was the valuable time I wasted believing a lie. I had to stop playing over and over in mind that I was going to fail. I decided I had nothing to lose and sat down and began writing the book. It was a struggle at first because the fear failure attacked aggressively.
I knew I could not give up, I had to fight through. I was not going to let the fear of failure win. It took extraordinary effort and great support from my wife and friends for me to complete the book. There were several times I nearly quit, but I pressed through.
When I finally completed the book it was a great relief. I felt a since of accomplishment. I was proud. I gained victory over a nemesis in my life, the fear of failure. That was four years ago and since then I have written four other books and helped co-author a book with twenty-two other authors across the country. I still battle with the fear of failure, but I know if I fight through victory is possible.
Accept that failure will happen
To deal with the fear of failure, you must realize that failure happens. Failure is a part of life. The most gifted and talented people fail. No matter what it looks like from the outside no one ever achieves everything he or she sets out to do.
We tend to think that failure is a bad thing, but that’s simply not true. Failure is a matter of perspective. If you look at your failure as a learning opportunity then you position yourself one step closer to success. In our failures, we can learn valuable lessons.
Michael Jordan, whom many believe is the greatest basketball player of all time, shed light about the importance of failure.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Do not give up or throw in the towel because you failed, use your failure as motivation to push forward. These six steps can help you face your failures instead of running from them.
Six steps to help you face the fear of failure
1. Identify past failures. Make a list of your past failures and what caused them. This is difficult, but it helps you confront your past failures in a real way. You cannot change what happened in the past, but you can learn and grow from it.
If you do not honestly identify your past failures and their causes, the chances of moving forward will be limited. You will stumble through life and fumble opportunities for success if you keep repeating the same mistakes. When you take the time to seriously identify your failures and their causes, you position yourself for success.
2. Understand that failure happens. Thomas Edison, one of the world’s greatest inventors, understood that failure happens. He said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Even the best leaders in the world have endured instances of failure. Failure is a part of life. When failure happens, deal with it and move on.
3. Learn from past failures. The best thing about a past failure is that it gives you an opportunity to learn and grow from your mistakes and prevent the same mistakes from happening again.
Ask yourself these questions:
What did you learn from the experience that will help you in the future? How can you use the experience to improve yourself or your situation? Then use what you learned from the experience to do things differently so you get different results the next time.
4. Count the cost. What will you gain if you pursue your dreams? What will you lose if you keep waiting? Who will miss out if you continue procrastinating?
There is a cost for following and not following your dreams. You don’t know what is possible until you move forward. You could be missing a million dollar business, a new loving relationship, or an opportunity to live a victorious life. Are you willing to pay the price?
5. Set goals. A goal helps you define where you desire to go in life. Without a goal, you have no direction to your destination. Start by setting one to two goals. These goals should challenge you, without overwhelming you so that you give up.
Taking small steps to achieve one or two goals sets you up for ‘timely wins’ that will boost your confidence. They will motivate you to keep moving forward and prevent you from over-extending yourself by focusing on too many goals.
6. Do it afraid. The fear of failure will immobilize you. To overcome this fear, you must act. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Don’t wait to do it tomorrow. Don’t wait for the fear to totally go away.
You must act now because if you do not, you allow the fear of failure to win. I know it is scary, but do it anyway. I know there is the possibility of failure, but move forward in spite of the doubts. It is time to be courageous and just do it. If it doesn’t work out the way you anticipated, then do something different. The key is to do something now.
Although we all encounter failures in life, implementing these six steps can position you to achieve your dreams.
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Abraham Lincoln
How can you overcome the fear of failure and achieve your dreams dream? Leave a comment
Originally published at medium.com