Is our fear of failure is limiting us?
Winston Churchill said failure is not fatal. So why do we act like it is? Most of us aren’t surgeons – one mistake doesn’t have catastrophic consequences. We have made failure into such a scary monster that in order to avoid it we would rather stop trying.
Mistakes have become our number one enemy, failure our worst nightmare. We dread anything that is not a whopping success, and mistakenly believe that our first try has to be the cream of the crop. An overwhelming fear of failing looms over everything we do, the fear of not succeeding cripples us. We may think that this line of thinking motivates us, or it pushes us to stay in the ring and not give up, but more times than not, it debilitates us instead.
Now more than ever, we hear one success story after another. We see the booming business, the groundbreaking app, the trendy cafe. We compete with the end result. People are quick to show off their wins but they don’t boast about their failures. It’s why when we encounter failure, even once, we think we’re not good enough. Failure becomes evidence of our unworthiness. Even if we did everything we possibly could, we still blame ourselves for what went wrong. It makes us not want to try again, to give up, to stick only to what we’re familiar with.
No one is inherently entitled to success. It has to be earned. Everyone you look up to has failed more times than you can imagine. The smartest people make colossal mistakes. The top athletes stumble. Even the most successful entrepreneurs fail numerous times before striking gold.
Failing at something, however big or small, does not make you a failure.
Something did not work out – it’s as simple as that. While it’s important to face the facts and take responsibility for your part, it serves you no good to dwell on it for too long and stay stuck in a regret vortex. Failures and mistakes provide some of the most valuable life lessons but only if you allow yourself to learn from them. Examine and reflect – what didn’t go well and why?
Sara Blakely, who invented the revolutionary product Spanx, shared a lesson that her father taught her from a very young age. At the dinner table, he would ask her and her brother to share their most recent failures. He encouraged them by celebrating their efforts. She says: “Failure for me became not trying, versus the outcome.”
It’s only through perseverance, through trial and error, that success happens. Author Neil Perscha says: “We think the equation goes like this: ‘Less Failure = More Success.’ It actually goes like this: ‘More Failure = More Success.’” Failing takes courage. Choosing to step out of your comfort zone is worth celebrating. Every failure is a trophy you’ve earned for trying something new and for believing in yourself. So start collecting your failures, or near successes. They are what shapes your roadmap to success.
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