Fear of failure is unavoidable for those of us who take on risk because we deeply desire career success and fulfillment. Can I run a profitable business? Should I reach out for help and expand my network? What if I ask for a promotion? Do I quit my job without a new one lined up?
At some point amidst all our options and challenges, we meet head on with a barrier that paralyzes us. We swirl around the drain of stagnation, waiting, resisting. Why? Risk is scary and financial security is at stake, but, above all, we fear failure.
The gripping sense of failure in our careers runs deeper than the superficial layer of the job title, status, and benefits package we may never obtain. Failure erupts with the emotional force of a hurricane pouring down feelings of rejection, self-deprecation, and the loss of our value as individuals. In other words, it hits the heart where it counts.
What are some signs that you might have a fear of failure gremlin to wrestle with?
- Comfort zone – resist getting involved in new, challenging projects
- Perfectionism – only take on tasks you know you can complete successfully
- Self-sabotage – procrastination, anxiety, lack of follow through
- Low self-confidence – negative self talk that you’re not good enough; “I can’t” language
How to overcome fear of failure
This might sound odd, but the great thing about your fear of failure is that it’s yours. You created or at least maintain this fear and therefore you can re-create it. It’s like downloading a new app to replace the old bugged-out version. Here are some “re-programming” tips:
Recognize you have a choice to decide what failure means. Instead of drawing negative conclusions about your self-worth and abilities, decide your experience means you are courageous for even trying. So many people never try at all!
Your failures can become outcomes, valuable insights, you choose to learn from. It is about growth, forward movement, an active choice to correct and drive in a better direction. Think about the opportunities you will miss, the potential never realized, if you let your failures stop you.
Tap into motivational realities. For example, what if Steve Jobs had not returned to Apple 12 years after he was fired? What if Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Empire, listened to people who told him he wouldn’t amount to anything as a high school dropout?
Finally, look at the worst case scenario. In many cases, the worst case is not nearly as disastrous as your irrational fears let you believe. Map out the possible outcomes as well as contingency plans. There’s always an option, a door to be opened, a springboard into your dreams.
Don’t let fear of failure be your final F word. It’s only when you risk going too far that you realize how incredibly far you can go. You stand to gain much more than you can fathom.
Want help understanding and overcoming your fears? Talk to me about how you can get unstuck and move forward. Contact me.