Have you ever been so afraid of failing at something, you decided not to try it at all? Or has a fear of failure meant, unconsciously, you undermined your own efforts to avoid the possibility of a larger failure?
You are not alone. All of us have experienced this at one time or another. The fear of failing can be immobilizing, it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore resist moving forward. When we allow fear to stop our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
There are several signs you can reflect on in your own life. Things like:
- A reluctance to try new things or get involved in challenging projects;
- “Self-sabotage” good examples would be procrastination, high anxiety, or failure to follow through with set goals;
- Low self-esteem or self-confidence commonly using negative statements like “I’ll never be good enough to get that promotion”;
- Perfectionism, which is a willingness to try only those things that you know you’ll finish perfectly and successfully;
- And measuring you and your abilities against others.
Failure is all a matter of perspective. It’s almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. In fact, some of the most successful people have had their own failures. Steve Jobs lost a company before returning to Apple. JK Rowling was essentially homeless when she wrote the Harry Potter Series. Colonel Sanders (KFC) didn’t start his company until he was 64 after realizing that his $105 retirement cheque wasn’t going to last long.
Can you imagine what a different world we would have, if these people hadn’t pushed through their fears. The wonderful thing about failure is it’s entirely up to each of us to decide how to look at it. We can choose to see failure as “the end of the world” or as proof of just how inadequate we are, or we can look at failure as an incredible learning experience. Failing at something does not mean the end unless we choose to make it such. Many times it represents opportunity, because in the moment we fail we also have the ability to become open to learning and being something different. Every time we fail we can choose to look for the lesson we’re meant to learn.
I’ll leave you with this, basketball great Michael Jordan, was cut from his high school basketball team. He then went on to play in the NBA and win championships. He admits that throughout his career he missed 9000 shots, lost 300 games and missed 26 game winning shots. At any point he could have let it beat him, but instead he used this to push him forward. This is one great example of how to choose to succeed using what some consider as failure. It is in you, go out and find success!