“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” — Johnny Cash
Consider the following questions.
What does failure mean to you?
When did you last experience failure?
What lessons (if any) did you learn from the failure?
Failure may have different implications to people. It can cripple some while for others it is the opportunity to start afresh with a renewed approach.
Where does the notion of entitlement to success stem from? History is notorious for those who failed miserably, yet pursued their goal with staunch determination.
You are no doubt familiar with Thomas Edison’s story that lead to the invention of the electric light bulb. The following quote echoes his overwhelming desire to succeed: “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
Often, the process of reaching your goal may be more rewarding than the goal itself. The process is imbued with purpose, passion and excitement and sometimes, more gratifying than victory.
The goal, whilst alluring, takes a backseat as you are consumed pursuing your goal. You become at one with your endeavour and absorbed in the present moment rather than continually looking to the future.
The following points are ways to reframe your fear of failure.
I should state that fear is a trained response. Every time we entertain fear, we reinforce its power.
Therefore to break the cycle, be vigilant in guarding your thoughts. Defend the entrance to your mind like a fortress.
“Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.” — Denis Waitley
1. Get To The Heart Of The Fear
When did you first realise your fear? Fear has an origin, and it is worth getting to the heart of it. Personally, my fear can be traced back to a fear of water while I was young. I was petrified of swimming in deep water at the local swimming pool. I recall the intense emotions that engulfed me when I tried to swim in deeper waters at the swimming pool.
Years later fear dominated my life in various ways. In time, I traced the root cause of the fear back to my childhood, whilst simultaneously examining the context surrounding it. While fear is still apparent in my life to a lesser degree, it does not have a vice-like grip like it once did. I learned to turn down the volume on the fear by confronting it.
2. Reframe Failure
Like letting go of our attachments to our childhood toys, it is vital we let go of fear by transforming it into courage, faith and trust. We learn more through our failures than our successes. Given your WHY? is large enough, you will find inspiration and motivation to pursue your goal with enthusiasm. It was Tony Robbins who said: “There is no such thing as failure — only undesirable outcomes.” Reframe failure to see it as a stepping stone instead of a negative consequence of action taken.
3. Fail Fast
Fail fast suggests the bigger the goal, the greater the chance of failure. Failure in this context is inevitable due to the size of your goal. Bigger goals need additional steps, many of which lay out of sight. In several cases, these steps are revealed once the journey is embarked upon.
Therefore it’s advisable when pursuing a large goal, that mistakes are limited to early in the piece. You want to gain valuable insights before persevering forward. Failing fast invites you to harness vital lessons from the experience and transform them into success further down the path.
4. Failure Does Not Equal To Self-Worth
This is where many people get it wrong. They associate failure of the goal to one’s self-esteem. Failure is pointing you toward an aspect of your goal which requires attention, to ensure success. Viewed from this perspective, failure becomes a signpost pointing you in the right direction, instead of a negative event.
Perhaps there needs to be more steps undertaken to reach your final goal. Recall Thomas Edison’s one thousand attempts to create the electric light bulb? He no doubt realised his invention was worth pursuing, and the failures were drawing him closer toward success.
5. Failure Is Not Permanent
It is edging you closer toward your desired outcome. It may become permanent if you don’t learn from the mistakes. Failure is a transitory process. It continues to make itself known until you have mastered the lessons.
I urge you to read an inspiring book about overcoming failure called Delivering Happiness in which Tony Hsieh founder of online footwear retailer Zappos overcame repeated failures to build one of the largest online footwear companies in the world. The company was eventually sold to Amazon for close to $1 billion dollars!
6. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway
Susan Jeffers book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is an important reminder that we walk through life carrying our fears with us. They have the potential to overwhelm us if we allow them to conquer us. History is marked with those consumed by fear yet persisted in the face of it. The death of fear is imminent when we take bold action.
It was Dr Orison Swett Marden, American author and founder of Success magazine who said: “Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”
7. Stay Grounded In The Present
Fear is a future phenomenon. We fear the unknown since we have an expectation of how life should unfold. When life does not develop according to plan, we suffer. Your body is always in the present moment, so it makes sense your mind occupy the same space.
Don’t be consumed by future worries or concerns. Don’t waste valuable resources imagining a future which never arrives as you expect. When you love what you do fear of failure becomes an illusion, since you are no longer attached to certain outcomes. The future always arrives at the right time when you practice infinite patience. All your needs are met, so there is never a need to rush the process.
Originally published at medium.com