Overcoming Fear of Failure
Overcoming fear of failure
is crucial for success. For many
successful men and women who have accomplished great things in life,
failure was merely a stepping stone to achieving greatness.
Men like Henry Ford, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison
understood that failing to make the attempt is the 'real' failure and
that doing nothing, begets nothing - least of all success.
Likewise, women like Emily Dickinson and Marie Curie did not succeed
initially and had a more difficult time striving towards their
Why then would someone have a fear of failure?
Not knowing what it really takes to succeed.
reason is that many of us are so focused on success and the appearances
of it, that we forget what it really entails. We rarely think about
failure as being a part of life and how many success stories have
emerged from sheer failure. No one talks about how many times Abraham
Lincoln failed at getting elected to office before he ended up becoming
president (8); how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard before
becoming a sensation in the computer world, or how Michael Jordan
failed to make his high school basketball team before becoming one of
the greatest basketball players ever. In these times of fast media and
instant news we often see the glamorous side of success rather than the
obstacles and hard work it takes to get there.
Having unrealistic expectations.
We often expect to
succeed on our first attempt at a venture and if we don't, we think
we've failed. How realistic is that? Just because we failed a test, got
passed over for a promotion, or didn't get a 'yes' asking that cute
girl/guy for their phone number, does it mean we will never succeed at
it? Not at all! Yet fear of rejection, or perceived failure, stops many
from trying again.
The same applies in competitive sports. Athletes must learn
to accept loss before they discover what it takes to win. In any sport,
expecting to win from the onset is totally unrealistic. Failure is part
of the process of learning how to win. Likewise, in the entertainment
and music businesses. Most 'overnight' successes take years in the
making before they achieve high levels of success.
In his book Outliers Malcolm
Gladwell repeatedly talks about the "10,000-Hour Rule", in which he
states that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of
practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. As an
example, he brings up that The Beatles performed live in Hamburg,
Germany alone over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than
10,000 hours of playing time. He also points out that Bill Gates met
the 10,000-Hour Rule when at the age of 13, he spent some 10,000 hours
or more, learning programming on a high school computer that he managed
Needless to say, 10,000 hours of practicing anything would
include many occurrences of failure, some frustration and falling short
Perfectionism. Some of us are afraid of failure
because we believe we must be perfect. If we make an attempt and then
fail at it, we risk looking foolish and therefore feel somehow
believe everything must be done at a high level with no room for
mistakes. If they can't get something done perfectly, they'd prefer not
do it at all. Unfortunately, this type of thinking deprives the
perfectionist of real learning and the benefits and value gained from
How to Overcome Fear of Failure
Only by overcoming fear of failure can we
achieve success in life. Here are some tips on how to eliminate fear
and focus on success:
- Understand and expect that at times you
Realize that you are human and humans make mistakes. Before any of us
learned how to walk, we crawled. We got up, fell down, got up again and
continued the process until we could walk expertly.
- Don't take failure personally.
Instead, view it
as a stepping stone. Make certain you learn from it and then apply what
you've learned to future situations. Refuse to consider failing a
character flaw or weakness. Doing so will only prevent you from
achieving future success.
- No one succeeds all of the time,
probably not even most of
the time. In baseball, star players fail 70% of the time.
Babe Ruth's batting average was .342 which means he struck out 66% of
the time. Wayne Gretzky's career shooting percentage in hockey was
17.57% meaning he missed 82.43 % of the time. Wayne is also famous for
saying "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." So it is in life.
You won't fail at anything if you don't make the attempt. You also
- Remember that 'failure' has produced
Consider how many people in history had failed before they became
successful and indeed because they failed. Albert Einstein's teacher
told him to quit school because; "Einstein, you will never amount to
anything!" Ludwig Von Beethoven's music teacher said of him "as a
composer, he is hopeless". Henry Ford's first two automobile companies
- Appreciate the benefits of failure.
Emerson said: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make
the better." In other words, your chances of getting things right on
the first try are slim to none. The more you try, or
better you'll get at it.
- Believe in yourself. Rather
than giving up when
things don't work out, take it as an opportunity to build perseverance
and resolve. Believe that you've got what it takes to work through the
obstacles and difficult times. Remind yourself how many failures became
successful because they wouldn't give up. The wonderful poem Don't
Quit by Edgar Albert Guest is an
inspiring illustration of that mindset.
The Benefits of Overcoming Failure
You build valuable
experience and knowledge
You build strength of character and focus
You find more ways of
being creative and sharpen your
problem solving skills
It gives you an
opportunity to redefine your
or set upon a new path, if necessary
You build flexibility
and open mindedness
Failure is the foundation of success,
and the means by which it is achieved." Lao Tzu
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