You’ve probably heard this little question before: “what would you do if you could not fail?”
It has its merits as a prompt. It’s a big picture question. Which is helpful for generating big picture answers. It reminds us of just how large a role failure plays in our dreams. It pulls back the curtain on our fear of failure and offers a glimpse into the world beyond it. The world where we have the courage to live to our full potential.
But the question is also a little saccharine. Because it skates over the surface of the underlying issue – how to navigate the fear of failure itself. Plus: unrealistic. (So the critical thinkers and sceptics among us hear that question and, with a roll of the eyes, are like cute question.) And they’re right. Because….
Guess what? Failure is actually inevitable. We’re all going to fail some of the time. And truthfully, failure gets a bad rap. We’d never evolve, learn, or hone our craft if it weren’t for the failures in our life.
And for the record, failure, generally speaking, is not that bad, guys. In fact, the fear of failure is usually worse than the actual failure. So instead of using not failing as a framework for dreaming, maybe we just need to adjust our tolerance for failure… and turn down the volume on our fear of it. And what does the fear of failure sound like? Self-doubt.
Self-doubt is the voice of fear. It’s the culprit that keeps us small. The voice that says we shouldn’t or can’t do the things that move us toward our full potential. Self-doubt is the mouthpiece, representing the band of thugs that keep us stuck and quiet: the fear of failure, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of not being likeable.
Self-doubt saps your energy (and drowns out your dreams). Think about how much energy you waste in dialogue with self-doubt. For most of us, it’s a phenomenal amount. And now imagine if you redirected that energy into dialoguing with your dreams…or better yet, Just Doing The Things (instead of worrying about whether you should and what might happen if you do.)
The truth is, you already have the courage and conviction you need to live your dreams and expand to your full potential. It’s there, within you all the time. It just gets drowned out by the persistent negative self-talk, second-guessing and self-doubt. So dial that shit down and turn UP the volume on your positivity and power.
So where to from here? Hit mute on self-doubt for a day.
1. When self-doubt trash-talk pops up, X it out. Dial it down. Hit unsubscribe. Unfollow. Delete, delete, delete.
2. Replace the thought with something useful and positive. If you’re not sure what to replace it with, a reliable option is the opposite of whatever the self-doubt is saying.
3. Take note of what happens. How you move through the world. What steps you take. What moves you make. What decisions you own. What direction you move in. How much more energy you have to devote to your dreams. How you feel. How you engage with others. What you require from them (hint: less. When you’re not drowning in self-doubt you need less outside validation). Notice who you are sans the self-doubt.
If you notice a difference (and you will), choose to make it a habit. With time, self-belief and positivity will be your new default. And self-doubt will be out of a job, the poor sucker.
So start now. Try it. You’re the DJ. Make a choice to hit mute on self-doubt. Choose a different track. Tune into the potential within you and let it sing out to you. It’s the song of your becoming. And it’s really fucking beautiful.