How to overcome the fear of failure

I can’t remember exactly where I saw this quote but I scribbled it down on my note. It has been my motivation ever since it says and I quote

There are three types of people in this world. Firstly, there are people who make things happen. Then there are people who watch things happen. Lastly, there are people who ask, what happened? Which do you want to be?”

If you rarely fail, you are certainly not the type that makes things happen. Please forgive me when I say that you have no big goals and you always follow the least path of resistance. Fear can stop your forward progress in life and cause you to miss great opportunities to achieve the goals you really desire. Fear can make you settle for less.

The fear that cripples you is very normal and nobody has the right to judge you for it because they have not gone through the path of life you followed. Your fear could be caused by genuine reasons like having critical or unsupportive parents/relatives. It seems like they are waiting for you to make your next mistake so that they can say something about your poor life choices.

 Your fear could also arise from the fact that you gave something a try in the past and you did very poorly. It could even be caused by the fear of losing something dear to you that many people out there can’t afford to lose e.g. a huge sum of money, car, friends or worse your home.

But if you always focus on the negatives of situations like potential embarrassment or the things that could go wrong if you leave the safety of a job for entrepreneurship and the things that could go wrong if you assume a leadership role then you are almost certain to end up a mediocre or a failure in the worst-case scenario.

The point I am trying to make is that fear of failure is normal and sometimes justified but this same fear should drive you to take the plunge and become be a success. It shouldn’t keep you from acting and paralyze you. The fear of failing exams should drive you to study harder; the fear of not being able to support yourself financially in the future should drive you to work harder and take calculated risks.

I myself consider have those fears a lot, that’s why I decided to write this article and give out some tips that could restructure the way you think about failure.

Fear of failure affects your decision making

When it is time to climb up the ladder we begin to fear our own inadequacy this fear prompts retreat, some drop out of school some reject leadership roles and say I can’t. Some footballers refuse to take a shot for fear of missing it.

Don’t let fear shut you down before you even have a chance to start because even the most successful people fail to get more than 50% of the things they want. Think of Cristiano Ronaldo, the highest goal-scoring winger in the world. In the 2015-16 season, Ronaldo shot 227 times at goal in his 36 Liga games scoring 35. This gives him a success ratio of 15% yet Alexandre Lacazette had a conversion rate of 34.6% that same season but scored far fewer goals. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So to overcome your fear start with this.

Come back to reality

Truth is, you will fail, a lot. Learn to appreciate that. Nobody has ever become successful without failing along the way. The takeaway point here is that there is no perfect and foolproof strategy to success, there will always be obstacles along the way. There is a huge difference between taking a risk and being stupid. Map out your strategy that is aimed at minimizing failure, now take the risk. Each time you experience setbacks along the way. Learn from the situation and grow as a person from the experience and stop striving for unreasonable perfection.

Understand Your Fear

Take a step back and ask yourself: What is it exactly that you fear? Is it the imagination that I’ll lose everything if I fail? or the fear of rejection and embarrassment?  What is the worst that can happen?  The truth is that 80% of the time your perception of failure is more catastrophic that it would actually happen in real life. Regrets are worse than failure because of the feeling of regret that lasts much longer.

Take the first step, the second step then becomes the next logical move and soon you gather momentum. Approach that girl *winks* don’t overthink it. Nothing close to your worst-case scenario will happen.

Go out and do little things that scare you.

Are you afraid of heights? Then try bungee jumping. Just do the things that are slightly out of your comfort zone. This approach will train your mind in many ways. It would make you realize that fear is nothing but an assumption. It would give you the confidence to take bigger risks with time. When you succeed at small goals in one area, you start to see that you can apply the same skills and determination to accomplish large goals in other areas.

Find positive people who will encourage you.

Have a friend do it with you, Find someone who is caring and spirited and like you enough to want to see you succeed as well. They will provide sympathy when there are setbacks and affirmation when you succeed.

Alternatively, find someone who did it successfully and copy everything they did. Take Consultation from someone who has through everything you are going through and has succeeded, I mean seek mentorship and counseling.

Watch a great motivational movie/video

Movies are an integral part of our lives, They sometimes structure the way we think. Watch movies of failure or fear in order to get that temporary boost, that feeling of “I can do this”.  A movie like The Pursuit of Happyness shows how failure and resilience can breed success. There are many other equally motivational movies /videos out there that would motivate you and teach you to persevere. Even Warren Buffet had a couple of failed investments.

Stop talking about past failures

You failed. Great! But there is no need to keep talking about it and wallowing in self-pity. Don’t focus on failure. Stop asking “Why did this happen to me?“, or some other negatively framed question. Ask “What did I learn from this?”  Pick up the bits and pieces you learned. It’s done, no more looking back Move on.

Draft a Plan B

Bring down the probability of the occurrence of failure at something to next to zero by having a “Plan B” in place. Having a Plan B can help you feel more confident about moving forward. We mentioned earlier in this article there is a difference between taking a risk and being stupid. Taking a risk is drafting out an action plan while being stupid is diving all in.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek”

Joseph Campbell

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