I truly believe one of the biggest things that has held me back from achieving goals, or at least achieving them as quickly as I could have, has been fear or failure. This is human nature to want to succeed and not look stupid or be embarrassed by a less than desirable outcome of something.
But I have to wonder, how many times has fear of failure stopped me from doing something great or finding a new passion or hobby to enjoy? I recently read Hello Fears by Michelle Poler, which I do recommend as a positive self growth opportunity. She documents her 100 days of facing down different fears from dancing in Times Square to speaking at a TedX conference. In her story, she breaks down different emotions and feelings she had to go through to conquer each of her fears.
Fear of failure is also know by the name atychiphobia. This may be an unwillingness to try anything new unless it is guaranteed to be a success. Sometimes this is tied to another psychological phenomenon known as imposter syndrome. It makes it challenging to feel as though you deserve something or that you will be good enough at whatever it is that you need or want to do.
Why are people afraid to fail?
Some people grow up in households where they are not supposed to show imperfections or they are held to super high standards. Everything is expected to be perfect and anything less than that is unacceptable. This could be something an adult has shown them or some internal pressure placed on theirselves.
Other reasons people are afraid to fail include potential shame or embarrassment that may come from not reaching a goal. They may place a lot of emphasis on what others think or have fear of failure accompanied by anxiety.
Perhaps you’ve been knocked down many times in the professional world when you’ve tried to express you ideas. This could be a block to further wanting to share ideas or come up with new innovative ways to do things.
How many successful people have failed?
Lots of successful people failed many, many times on their path to success. It is not always a linear process, but many times filled with ups and downs that teach lessons. One of the most famous examples is the inventor fo the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, who failed 1,000 before making the lightbulb function and work.
Have you ever heard of Harry Potter? Chances are you have because between the books and the movies, JK Rowling has made over $15 billion. It’s an international sensation, but was rejected 12 times at first.
Oprah Winfrey had a television gig that did not go so well where she faced challenges and was ultimately fired from that position. She didn’t give up and went on to have her own talk show and is a billionaire.
I could go on and on. Think of a famous person who you admire and respect. Do some research about their background. Chances are if they started a business, wrote a book, or starred in a movie, somewhere along the way they faced rejection and failure. The key is they did not let that stop them from pursuing their dreams.
Moral of the story? Failure is a step to growth so even if we might fail, we have to try. If we never try, then we’ll never know if we could have run that marathon, finished that degree, or started that new business. It will always be a “what if?”. How many what if’s do you have and what can you change moving forward?