“There is little faith involved in setting out on a journey where the destination is certain and every step in between has been mapped in detail. Bravery, trust, is about leaving camp in the dark, when we do not know the route ahead and cannot be certain we will ever return.” ― Bear Grylls, A Survival Guide for Life
If you have ever watched an episode of Bear Grylls’s Man vs. Wild you might agree that in extreme situations, failure is simply not an option. In most of our regular lives, though, we usually have a choice whether to attempt something challenging, or simply to opt out.
Some of us struggle with fears of failure to such an extent that, far more often than not, we choose the easy way out and almost never try something that we might fail at. This can lead to stagnation, boredom and negative thinking habits. It can rob us of the opportunities we desire.
In this way, we can become our own worst enemies. Instead of acting, we might chew over thoughts about what others will think of us if we fail, we might procrastinate and self-sabotage, and ruin our chances before we even start.
Fear can make us weak. How do we overcome the fear and become strong again?
It isn’t a simple matter of reading about positive thinking, or repeating a mantra. One research study showed that positive thinking techniques can actually have the opposite effect, and intensify the fear of failure.
Here are a couple of useful strategies, or
Ways to Overcome Fear of Failure
Admit your faults and weaknesses. Brené Brown rightfully indicates that the secret to healing is vulnerability. To put it another way: “Embrace your mistakes”. Think of them as opportunities to grow instead of black marks on your spotless record.
Start small and build up. Make a list of things you would usually not attempt, and then arrange them from the least challenging to the scariest. Attempt the first one, which should be well within reach, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve ticked it off. Move on, and work your way down the list until you conquer the fear. Whether or not you actually succeed at any or all of them is less important than simply trying. You will begin to break the established pattern of habit.
Consider your Mental and Physical diet. The food we eat, and the kinds of things we read, listen to and watch all have an effect on our moods and states of mind. Pay attention to this. Remember – Garbage in => Garbage out.
Learn to move on. You have failed, you’re not a failure. Get better at accepting the fact that you’re not perfect, and move on from the deadlock. One or two actions or results don’t define your entire life. Remember, life is not happening to you it’s happening for you!
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Have a contingency plan. In addition to thinking about what might go wrong, use your mind-space practically to come up with a backup strategy in case things do actually go wrong, but leave the possibility open that things might just go right instead.
Challenge the word ‘No’. Every time we say ‘yes’ we open doors, and every time we say ‘no’ we close them. Make a point of saying ‘yes’ to something you might normally say ‘no’ to, and trust yourself to know when to really just say ‘no’. (Think of Jim Carey in Yes Man)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Fear of Failure is a vicious cycle, and sometimes the best way to snap out of it is to get an outsider’s help. Find someone you trust, or use a great peak performance and mental game coach to help you through your negative pattern, and turn it into a positive one.
Over the years I’ve helped many people overcome their fears and bolster their feelings of self-worth. I hope you find the above ideas meaningful, and actually try to put them to use. Have a look at some of the great resources on this site, and feel free to contact me if you need a little encouragement.
“I failed my way to success.” — Thomas Edison