THE FEAR OF FAILURE is one of the most common and paralyzing fears people face. It comes from the pressure to be perfect, to execute your dream flawlessly. It makes you worry what people will think of you, what they’ll say about you, if they’ll laugh at you. It’s a toxic fear, one that needs to be overcome, because it prevents you from taking chances. What if Bill Gates had let his fears convince him to stay at Harvard rather than starting his own business?
If you look at the world we live in, it’s only natural that we fear failure. Even though great innovation comes from trial and error, we are penalized for our mistakes throughout school and in the working world. When was the last time you heard of someone getting a big raise after making a colossal mistake? That person is lucky to keep his job. As a society, we’re not particularly forgiving when other people mess up (ahem, Britney). So really, it’s only natural to fear failure; it’s the way we’ve been raised. The thing we need to realize is that messing up is ok. At the very worst, you can learn from your blunder and be better because of it. But more importantly, we need to goof up every now and then because sometimes mistakes work. Look at chocolate chip cookies, Coca Cola and Post-It Notes – they were all created by accident! As Thomas Edison said, “I failed my way to success.”
The irony of this fear is that you will fail, numerous times, as you chase your dreams. As I sit here writing this, I’ve got a folder crammed full of rejection letters for stories and article ideas. But instead of letting it deter me from my dreams, I look at it as feedback that I can use to make my writing stronger. No matter who you are or what you strive for, failure will find you. Rather than trying to evade it, change how you feel about it. Instead of viewing failure as some sort of ominous force that will be the end of you, accept that you will encounter it and face it with positivity, asking yourself “what can I learn from this experience to make myself better next time?”
Michael Jordan on failure:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Are you a dream chaser facing a particular fear? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please e-mail me at: erika (at sign) erikaliodice (dot) com